Security chief at feds’
model airport steps down

By Paul Sperry

WASHINGTON — The recently appointed federal security director at the government’s model airport is leaving, sources tell WorldNetDaily.

Baltimore-Washington International Airport is the proving ground for new security measures that will be adopted at all the nation’s airports by Nov. 19, when the Transportation Security Administration takes full control of passenger security.

BWI’s federal security director, Arnold “Arnie” C. Cole, is quietly stepping down, say TSA officials at headquarters and a TSA agent at the airport.

Cole did not return repeated calls for comment. His secretary said she did not know the date of his last day in office.

TSA sources say Cole was ousted, but TSA spokeswoman Chris Rhatigan denied that.

Federal security directors, who are field executives for TSA, earn between $105,000 and $150,000.

The BWI system, which includes new models for passenger screening and baggage scanning, got off to a rocky start.

But TSA insists the new system is not only boosting security, but reducing lines.

Not everyone agrees.

“BWI was set up to be the model, but little has changed,” said Steve Elson, a former FAA special agent who has clandestinely tested the airport’s new system for CBS News.

He says that although screeners properly resolved suspicious items concealed in three carry-ons, airport perimeter security remains lax.

“Someone can get a bomb into the system from curbside baggage check-in,” Elson said.

He also ripped the airport’s new bomb-scanning equipment and set-up.

“I pointed out to the CBS crew how the L-3 machine down between piers A and B, next to United (Airlines), could be used to introduce a bomb, rather than prevent a bomb from getting in the system,” he said.

By law, all baggage must be checked for explosives by Dec. 31.

Elson also claimed that BWI checkpoint screeners are “quitting or simply not showing up for work,” because TSA has been slow in processing their paychecks.

TSA admits that people who worked for much-criticized private screening firms such as Argenbright Security have been rehired.

In July, authorities had to shut down the busy Southwest Airlines pier at BWI for two hours after a man entered the pier by going around the security checkpoint, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Screeners trained at BWI have fanned out to other major airports across the country to train other screeners. Some 45,000 screeners will be working as federal employees at the 429 U.S. airports by Nov. 19. By law, all must be U.S. citizens fluent in English with no criminal records.

Elson griped that TSA focused too much on customer service in developing its national model for airport security. The government hired consultants from Walt Disney Co. to help make BWI’s security system more customer friendly.

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