Lawmakers: Employee screening at airport lacking

- TIA travelers are used to the once-over when they go through security, but employees at most airports are not held to similar standards when it comes to checkpoints. 

"People look at my bags, the zippers in my pants, my buttons," said Byron Ricks, who was traveling to Washington State on Tuesday.

It may seem shocking for airport employees, who have much more access to planes and baggage, aren't always required to get the same inspection.

"An employee has more opportunity to wreak havoc than a passenger does," said Al deOlazarra, who was traveling to Miami.

Sen. Bill Nelson is equally miffed.

"The best practices are obvious," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida). "You have to check the airport employees."

He quizzed TSA administrator Peter Neffenger last week on why only three of America's 300 airports regularly screen employees: Orlando, Miami and Atlanta. 

Nelson: "What about the rest of the 297 airports nationwide?"
Neffenger: "Senator, I had exactly the same question."

In 2015, ISIS operatives at an Egyptian airport killed 224 with a planted bomb. In 2014, officers in the U.S. busted a gun smuggling ring at the Atlanta airport.

Plus, a recent report showed 73 airport employees in the US were being looked at for ties to terror, though not necessarily ones who work in secure areas.

"Earlier this year, I ordered a detailed vulnerability assessment across the entire system for those other airports that you mentioned," said Neffenger. "The results of that assessment are coming in this month."

The TSA insists it has increased inspections since those incidents, but admits it needs airports to be aggressive on their own.

TIA says it has increased random screenings.

A bill to require screening is still moving through the U.S. Senate, which seems to have bipartisan support.

"You are faced with a great challenge of getting it right everytime when a terrorist just need some opportunity," said Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota).

The bill also includes a requirement to beef up background checks for those who work in secure areas, as well as providing security equipment to foreign airports with flights to the US.

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