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Security Breach At LAX Briefly Shuts Down Terminal Over Weekend

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Mon, Feb 1, 2010 at 12:39 PM

click to enlarge AMERICAN AIRLINES
  • American Airlines
A security breach at LAX shut down Terminal 4 for nearly an hour over the weekend as agents and airport police tried to locate a woman who got through a checkpoint without having been "wanded" for weapons.

The breach happened about 10 p.m. Saturday as the woman came through the American Airlines terminal. After U.S. Transportation Security Administration agents realized they had failed to run a metal-detecting wand over the woman and she was long gone they shut down the terminal and all flights in and out of it, according to Marshall McClain the President of the Los Angeles Airport Police Officers Association.

The breach didn't appear to be a result of the traveler's actions -- she was later found not to be a threat -- but rather of the TSA officers' own oversight. The terminal was shut down for nearly an hour before the woman was found at an American Airlines VIP lounge, McClain told the Weekly.

The head of the group that represents LAX police says the breach demonstrates the need for more body imaging scanners at the airport. And, McClain said, it shows that the TSA is in need of permanent leadership.

LAX assistant chief Erroll Southers pulled out recently after Obama nominated him to lead the TSA but Republicans opposed his candidacy citing revelations from 20 years ago. Despite its crucial role in counter-terrorism -- and the attempted bombing of a jetliner over Detroit Christmas day -- the agency has been without a leader for nearly a year.

The breach "speaks to the reason why we need to hurry up and get someone in charge of TSA," McClain said. "They've been without a leader for about a year now. If we get a leader in there we would all be better off. I don't know of any organization that runs well without someone in charge. LAX has been one of the top terrorist targets for quite sometime."

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