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Boxer questions TSA about Hawaiian Air stowaway

By Kevin Freking

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:51 p.m. HST, Apr 30, 2014

WASHINGTON >> A few weeks before a 15-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration conducted a review of San Jose's airport and found its perimeter to be in compliance with the agency's security requirements.

Now, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is questioning the thoroughness of the TSA's nearly three-month review given that the boy said he hopped a fence to get to the plane. Boxer made the case in a Senate hearing Wednesday that if a 15-year-old could get through security barriers, others could, too.

"What if it was someone else with an explosive?" Boxer asked

TSA Administrator John Pistole told Boxer that the agency's review indicates the airport has the proper security systems in place, but it's not a guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen.

Hoping to reunite with his mother, the boy breached the airport's perimeter on April 19 by allegedly scaling a 10-feet-tall fence reinforced with barbed wire. He hid in a Hawaiian Airlines plane's landing gear wheel well and remained there during the flight to Hawaii.

About three weeks earlier, the TSA completed what was described as a comprehensive inspection of the airport's perimeter systems and other security measures. About 82 hours was spent on the inspection over the course of three months, according to a non-classified summary from the TSA that Boxer's staff provided. The inspection included the airport's badge systems, a review of law enforcement support and the fence line. The report also noted that the airport has an ongoing project to enhance the fence line and improvements would continue as time and funds permit.

Pistole said during the hearing that the airport's fencing was in fine shape, and he noted that a previous secretary of the Department of Homeland Security once made the observation: "Show me a 15-foot fence, and I'll show you a 16-foot ladder."

"So there's no perfect solution," he said.

Pistole also said during the hearing that there were opportunities to make improvements to the airport's perimeter security, such as through patrol dogs or second fences in some places. He also mentioned the potential for a fine.

"We have the ability to fine the airport for allowing this to happen because it is an egregious violation of the airport's perimeter," Pistole said.

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palani wrote:
...Department of Homeland Security once made the observation: "Show me a 15-foot fence, and I'll show you a 16-foot ladder."

Perhaps, but this 15 year from the failed terrorist state of Somalia did not need a 16 foot ladder.

on April 30,2014 | 01:01PM
paniolo wrote:
That's right, @palani. Seems like a lot of the airport perimeters everywhere have only that 4-rows of barbed wire on the top. That's why people climbed over before. They should install those coiled razor wires like how prisons are surrounded. Put some on the ground on both the outside and inside, and at the top of the fence. The more they put, the harder for the criminals/terrorists to get through. Let them get all cut up trying to break the perimeter. I guess these so-called security experts aren't experts at all.
on April 30,2014 | 02:58PM
Bully wrote:
After all the millions that were spent to safeguard our airports after 911, we realize its still not secure.
on April 30,2014 | 01:04PM
kainalu wrote:
"Be afraid! Be very afraid! The terrorists are coming!" Or, you can be NOT afraid.
on April 30,2014 | 03:10PM
iwanaknow wrote:
In his defense, he only wanted to see his mom...............what's wrong with dat?
on April 30,2014 | 03:50PM
Pocho wrote:
Only now Boxer questions the departure airport where this kid scaled the fence? I've been questioning from day one! You create and spend all that money on the TSA and there's still holes in the system? LOSE MONEY
on April 30,2014 | 05:22PM
Anonymous wrote:
Next time he wants to get to Africa, he might not want to jump on a plane that says "Hawaiian" on it. It might...just might...go to Hawaii.
on May 1,2014 | 05:47PM
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