WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is demanding answers from the Transportation Security Administration after a teenager successfully breached security and climbed into the wheel well of a flight to Maui undetected by San Jose International Airport security.
Boxer sent a letter to TSA administrator John Pistole asking why a layered perimeter defense was not part of San Jose International Airport’s Airport Security Plan. She pressed Pistole in April at a Senate Commerce Committe hearing on how the TSA could rate the airport’s security as “compliant” based on a roughly three month review by TSA inspectors. The review took place three weeks before the 15-year-old boy breached security at the airport.
“While we know that there is not one perfect solution when it comes to keeping our airports safe, it’s also clear that a layered defense is critical to preventing such breaches from happening again,” Boxer wrote in the letter. “What truly concerned me in this situation was that the Airport Security Plan for San Jose Airport did not require a layered defense in keeping the perimeter fence area safe from unlawful access.”
Pistole agreed with Boxer that a layered defense is necessary to help prevent future security breaches from happening, but cited that the cost to make this happen at some airports as a problem.
During the April hearing, Boxer told Pistole she wants the layered defense to happen as soon as possible.
“Well, let’s do it,” Boxer explained. “I don’t want to take any more time, I just want to say this: You cleared them and that’s troubling to me. Why didn’t you know that they didn’t have the dogs? Is something wrong here? I’m very worried about this, because it isn’t enough to fill out a piece of paper and say ‘check.’ This is really serious business. Really serious business. What if it was someone else with an explosive that got on that plane?”
Boxer wrote in the Tuesday letter to Pistole that security improvements can be made cost efficiently and she highlighted how Palm Springs International Airport is a great example of how improvements can be made.
“Last July, Palm Springs International Airport completed a project to secure their perimeter fencing through the installation of a radar system called the Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS), which can detect perimeter breaches and provide instant alerts,” Boxer wrote in the letter. “The airport also replaced over 10,000 feet of old fence line and added more wireless closed-circuit television (CCTV) security cameras in restricted-access areas. In total, the upgrades cost less than $3 million, with the new PIDS accounting for less than one-third of the cost.”
Boxer has requested a response from Pistole.