Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
The Transportation Security Administration is investigating a California-based pilot for revealing a gap that allows airport and airline maintenance workers to access secured areas – which pilots and passengers reach only after nude full-body scans or invasive physical pat-downs – simply by swiping a card.
The pilot, 50, lives near Sacramento. He has been a test pilot in the Army Reserve, has flown missions for the United Nations and has been deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit.
It was his right-to-carry status that changed suddenly when he posted a series of six video clips he recorded on a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, the report said.
The videos, posted Nov. 28, revealed what the pilot described as the irony of flight crews passing through TSA screening while ground crew members who service the aircraft have full access to the secured areas just by swiping an ID card.
“As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It’s only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here,” he narrated.
Another image was of a “medieval-looking rescue ax” available on a jet’s flight deck.
The station reported the pilot’s comment was, “Looks a little more formidable than a box cutter, doesn’t it?”
The report said the pilot was told by the TSA a week after the videos first appeared that the TSA had launched an “administrative review” into his status as a “federal flight deck officer.”
The TSA warning letter said the videos “may have violated regulations” over disclosing information to the public.
Among the information disclosed was video of a door and a card reader, which the pilot described as the “security for ground crews.”
The pilot’s attorney said that the officers were sent to the pilot’s home to confiscate his government-issued handgun and deliver a message.
“The message was you’ve angered us by telling the truth and showing America there are major security problems despite the fact we spent millions of dollars allegedly to improve security,” the attorney said.
The pilot said his airline asked him to remove the videos, and he apparently is facing civil penalties from the TSA, the KXTV report by George Warren said.
On the station’s forum page, the sentiment fell on the side of the pilot:
“The only thing sensitive here is the TSA not liking people pointing out what a waste of money their entire organization is,” said one participant.
“He is showing that THE SECURITY MEASURES ARE USELESS,” wrote another.
“As for this pilot, he and his attorney should brush up on and make themselves familiar with the Federal Whistleblower Protections Act. Six U.S. Marshals to confiscate one man’s single firearm and revoke his CCW Permit? That’s like calling the entire New Orleans P.D. to surround and ticket a pickup truck for parking in a Handicapped Spot at Piggly-Wiggly,” said a third.
Controversy over the invasive searches has erupted into headlines and protests during the last few weeks as the agency has rolled out new requirements. The new equipment produces essentially nude images for TSA agents to screen. Passengers who choose not to go through the scanner must submit to a full-body pat-down that includes agents touching private areas of the body.
Several lawsuits have been filed over the procedures, and some states have announced plans to prosecute TSA agents who violate state pornography or sexual assault laws. Also, doctors have warned of a long list of contagious diseases agents could pass from one passenger to another in the process. And there have been warnings the scanning machines could cause cancer.