According to an AP news story in today’s USA Today, the TSA has issued new security directives mandating more detailed background checks on employees of airport restaurants, newsstands and other shops behind security checkpoints and those same employees will also have to start passing through metal detectors on their way to work. The new directives also require commercial airports to “reduce the number of doors behind security checkpoints used by airport and airline employees, and to increase security for the remaining doors”.
According to the article, “[u]nder the new rules, private employees will pass through screening every day on their way to work. In addition, the TSA will require airports to reduce the number of security identification badges issued to vendor employees. Such badges allow access beyond the secure area to airport tarmacs and the airplanes themselves”. The article also quotes TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield Jr. as stating that new rules are designed to strengthen security and “identify and disrupt potential threats to civil aviation.” (You can read the full text of Mr. Hatfield’s statement, brief as it is, here)
I am reasonably sure that I am not alone in saying “It’s about time!”. The inadequate background checks on airport employees and the less restrictive access to secure airport areas by those same employees have been two of the more obvious security gaps all along. Well, at least the TSA seems to be on the right track, even if it is way overdue.