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6,000 Security Badges at LAX Are Missing

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Angeles International Airport officials have failed to account for more than 6,000 security badges issued to airline and airport employees, a congressional watchdog agency has found.

A senior General Accounting Office official, in testimony prepared for a House transportation subcommittee hearing today, said Los Angeles airport officials said “approximately 16% of about 38,000 badges could not be accounted for.”

GAO Associate Director Kenneth Mead, who did not identify the Los Angeles airport by name for security reasons, also said three service companies at the airport “were not tracking the retrieval of badges from terminated employees. These companies said they could only guess at the number of lost badges.”

Congressional sources told United Press International that the airport in question was Los Angeles International Airport.

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It is believed that David Burke, a disgruntled former employee of USAir, used an extra badge to smuggle a gun onto a Pacific Southwest Airlines flight. All 43 people on board died after shooting broke out and the plane crashed.

According to the GAO investigation, to be presented today, lax or inadequate security measures exist at six of 16 “category X” airports--those considered most vulnerable to terrorist incidents. These include Washington National Airport, New York’s JFK, Chicago’s O’Hare, Atlanta’s Hartfield International and Miami International.

Dulles Investigation

In 1986, a separate investigation found that as many as 25% of 9,000 employee identification badges could not be accounted for at Dulles International Airport outside Washington.

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Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the transportation subcommittee, said the GAO investigation found “ineffective passenger screening and inadequate controls over personnel identification systems and over access to those parts of the airport where aircraft operate.”

The agency also found deficiencies in security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to airport operational areas.

Federal Aviation Administration security measures are designed to be redundant, combining employee identification systems, perimeter barriers and requirements that airport and airline employees “challenge” the presence of unauthorized people in security areas. Yet the GAO said its investigators gained easy access to restricted areas at numerous airports while wearing airline uniforms but without appropriate identification badges.


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