Reporter Discovers Missing Badges, Cleaning Crews
Performing Bomb Checks
station WBBM-2 recently conducted an undercover investigation at
O'Hare International Airport, and uncovered some rather alarming
breaches in security. The news comes as some flight attendants have
turned whistle blower after a handwritten bomb threat was found on
a United Airlines flight out of ORD in October.
"I feel like the public needs to know how our planes are
managed, how we deal with bomb threats," says United Airlines
flight attendant Kathy Browne.
She said the flight crew was told the aircraft had been cleared
by bomb-sniffing dogs prior to takeoff. She said she found out
later that not only was that not the case, but it was the cleaning
crew that performed the security check.
"We simply wanted to have that plane properly searched," she
The undercover reporter said he obtained the confidential
security report written by the captain of that particular flight
that said the flight crew was "in turmoil" and how "shocked" he was
about how the threat was handled.
He wrote he was informed the plane had been cleared by
bomb-sniffing dogs and, "Upon further investigation we found this
to be untrue. The [flight attendants'] supervisor even stated we
were being deliberately duped."
He further states the cleaning crew performed a check under the
supervision of the Transportation Security Administration.
It was also discovered the 47 employee access badges are missing
and unaccounted for. The news report said their investigation had
discovered a total of 3,807 such badges missing. These badges are
used to gain entry to the airport. Airport employees enter through
a back gate where they are not searched -- all they have to do is
show an employee badge.
The most recent batch of missing badges belonged to employees of
Mesa Airlines which operates flights for United Express.
Mesa flight attendant Marcia Pinkston wasn't surprised about the
"I am surprised you didn't find more," she said "It's really
scary just thinking that anyone can go into secure areas of
Pinkston says Mesa Airlines terminated her employment because
she complained about such security issues. She wasn't asked to
return her access badge for several months after she was fired.
"Just anybody can go in
there," she said.
New York City's chief paramedic during the 1993 attack on the
World Trade Center, Paul Maniscalco, is now a terrorism expert at
George Washington University, according to the news report.
Mansicalco cites several recent incidents where
employees posed the biggest threat to aircraft, not a terrorist --
like the two employees caught smuggling drugs and guns at Orlando
International Airport in March of this year.
"You would think by 2007 we would have our arms around this
issue," he said. "When your investigation indicated that we had
cards missing, unaccountability for the cards…it was
CBS 2 says Mesa Airlines was fined $47,000 as a result of the
report. The carrier says it was just a proposal and declined to
"There is no security," Pinkston said. "As long as you work
there you can do whatever you want."