Monday, May 14, 2012

Airport Security Theater Takes Turn to the Absurd

For all the talk of improving security and eliminating all manner of holes in security around airplanes and airports, it seems that there was one huge gaping hole at one of the airports from which one of the 9/11 aircraft took off.

A security supervisor at Newark Liberty Airport was using the identification of a dead man for more than 17 years.
Bimbo Olumuyia Oyelwole, a 54-year-old Nigerian national who was in the country illegally, was arrested at his home in Elizabeth this morning and charged with identity theft, said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman. He was an employee of FJC Security Services, a company hired by the Port Authority to provide security at some areas of the airport.

The arrest is likely to raise questions about the thoroughness of the background checks airport security personnel are required to undergo.

Oyelwole had passed multiple background checks required by both the Port Authority and federal aviation officials, but it was unclear early Wednesday afternoon how his true identity was not detected. Oyelwole supervised 30 guards and had "air side access," meaning he was able to walk in and out of secure areas. Authorities have no indication that he took on the false identity for any other reason than to remain in the country.

Oyelwole, who entered the country illegally in 1989, had a birth certificate, social security card, and other documents indicating he was Jerry Thomas, a man murdered in Queens in 1992, Coleman said. The investigation was initiated after the Port Authority's Inspector General received an anonymous tip, Coleman said.

"The IG's office is looking into how he obtained the documents to maintain another person's identity," he said, adding that additional charges are pending. Oyelwole is expected to be arraigned in Superior Court in Essex County this afternoon.

Oyelwole worked for four different security companies during his time at Newark, including Lance Security, Gateway Security, and Haynes Security.
The failures here will surely come to light over the next few days and weeks, but suffice to say this mess will not end well for those involved at the Port Authority, TSA, and others responsible for security at the airport.

After all, if the agencies responsible for airport security couldn't vet their own personnel, how exactly can we expect them to do the job of securing the airports from other threats.

And on that point, it seems that the TSA hasn't exactly got a good record either. The TSA is not tracking patterns in security breaches and isn't keeping tabs on security breaches in a way that can reduce their prevalence over time.

1 comment:

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