The man who is believed to have slipped into a secured area of Newark Liberty International Airport and to have caused a six-hour shutdown of a major terminal on Sunday has been arrested, Port Authority officials said on Friday night.
Mr. [Haisong] Jiang’s arrest [on a charge of defiant trespass] came a day after a video showing security footage of the incident was released by Mr. Lautenberg. It shows a man in a light-colored jacket standing near where arriving passengers exit a secured part of the airport. When a security guard leaves his post, the man embraces a woman and slips across the rope into the secured part of the terminal. The two then walk away together.
I don’t have much to say on the facts of the case. I haven’t seen the video, so I can’t decide whether or not the Mr. Jiang’s alleged actions were intentional. Instead, I want to comment on this:
The security guard has been on administrative leave since Tuesday, and he faces disciplinary action, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Derrick F. Thomas, a national vice president with union representing the guard, told The A.P. that the guard has “been rated a model employee.”
While in high school, I worked at a drug store. One day, the assistant manager in charge of the store during my shift left for approximately 30 minutes to run personal errands. She left a senior clerk in charge. If my memory is correct, that clerk was a high school student like me. Nothing occurred at the store during her absence. The next time I reported to work, I learned the manager had fired the assistant manager for her action.
secure restricted areas of an airport demands attention and scrutiny to each individual entering, as we’re told it does, what’s less severe here than what occurred at a drug store twenty years ago that makes administrative leave appropriate rather than immediate dismissal?
My initial conclusion is to accept the obvious distinction. The drug store was a private enterprise. The TSA is a government entity. The former requires accountability. The latter can’t. I’m inclined to be skeptical of this conclusion, since I don’t wish to be an ideologue. Then I read this (via KipEsquire):
A bystander waiting for an arriving passenger noticed the breach and told the guard. TSA officials then discovered that surveillance cameras at the security checkpoint had not recorded the breach and were forced to consult backup security cameras operated by Continental Airlines.
There could be any number of issues why such a lapse might occur, technical or otherwise. None of them are acceptable. This is security theater, not security. And we’re doubling down on our stupidity with every new, predictable incident.