Skip to comments.Airline says security officers approved faked ID for passenger
Posted on 02/22/2004 9:03:57 AM PST by Cultural Jihad
Airline says security officers approved faked ID for passenger
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
KAHULUI - A screaming, cursing passenger without identification got help from Kahului Airport security officers to board a Pacific Wings flight last Friday. Pacific Wings security coordinator (and chief pilot) Robert McKinney says his staff felt "pressured" by a Wackenhut officer who identified himself as a Maui police officer and by an official of the Transportation Security Administration to accept a "manufactured" police report and pass the woman through security.
McKinney says he knows his staff has the final say on who boards and who doesn't, but he says the airline's workers were "badgered by three uniformed people who insisted it was OK."
Pacific Wings became more alarmed when it turned out that the alleged police report used instead of proper ID was bogus.
And the company was even more alarmed when McKinney was told that Maui police issue "very many" of these questionable reports that help people board flights.
Maui Wackenhut Manager Bill Meyer said Wednesday he would investigate but that he would be "very, very shocked" if any of his 350 agents interfered with the boarding process.
TSA spokesman Niko Melendez said Wednesday that TSA does not check identification and had no role in the incident.
On Thursday, TSA opened an official investigation of all aspects of the event including the role of the police, and Pacific Wings was ordered not to make any further statements.
Before that, however, McKinney described how a raving passenger seeking a flight to Hilo was able to board the Pacific Wings aircraft with no more identification than "a police report on the spot using a scratch piece of paper."
McKinney was not present, but he and company President Greg Kahlstorf say they have four witnesses, including the two Pacific Wings pilots, who observed the drama but did not take part.
According to McKinney, the passenger had only an expired temporary Hawaii driver's license and a Costco card for ID.
According to Kahlstorf, Pacific Wings has a "zero tolerance policy" for boarding identification, in part because it is subject to fines up to $25,000 per passenger for security infractions.
The three accepted identifications are:
A government-issued picture ID, such as a driver's license.
Two current nonpicture but government-issued IDs.
An official airline employee ID.
According to McKinney's letter of complaint to TSA, when his reservation agent refused to accept the passenger's identification and told her she could not fly, the passenger "began to scream, yell and use profanity."
Senior Vice President Nora Asuncion called security, which arrived in the person of Wackenhut agents Henry Schnitzer and Paul Oda.
Meyer says Wackenhut does not have any regular duties for boarding in the commuter area under its contract with the state Airports Division. However, if there is trouble, his personnel have authority anywhere in the airport.
Instead of treating the passenger as a disorderly person, says McKinney, the Wackenhut guards offered to help her get ID.
They told the passenger and Asuncion that "it was common practice for passengers to board Hawaiian and Aloha flights with only a police report of a lost or stolen ID." That was news to Asuncion and, later, her bosses.
Schnitzer identified himself as a Maui police officer, McKinney says.
Meanwhile, TSA Manager Stanley Tadaki, who was nearby, was motioned over by the Wackenhut guards.
To Asuncion's surprise, he supported Schnitzer and Oda's view that a police report was all that was necessary.
Though TSA and Meyer say it wasn't an order, Asuncion thought it was.
As far as the Pacific Wings personnel could see, there were no procedures followed by Wackenhut to ascertain whether the passenger really was the person who had filed a lost or stolen ID report.
Which, apparently, she hadn't.
When McKinney called police headquarters Tuesday, he was told that the Maui police report ID number did not refer to the name of the passenger.
When he asked to whom it did apply, he was told that was secret.
When he asked if there were some other report on file with the passenger's name, he was told no.
In the course of this conversation with a police sergeant (whose name McKinney did not learn), he was told the police issue "very many" reports for the purpose of getting people onto planes.
It had never happened before to Pacific Wings, though, says Kahlstorf.
Police Chief Tom Phillips says active and retired Maui police officers work on their own time for Wackenhut, but that the police have nothing to do with checking passenger IDs.
He says the limit of the police participation would be to provide copies of reports made to police claiming ID was lost or stolen.
"We do not issue any kind of identification at the airport."
He adds that officers on "outside employment" are "not representing us when they're working for Wackenhut."
Kahlstorf says, "We had a police officer and a TSA official say, 'Let these people on the plane.'"
If the police have no official role at the airport, he asks, "How can they hand us a piece of paper and call it a police report? What are we supposed to do with it?"
He adds, "Forget this flight. Mistakes happen." But what if it's true that people routinely board jets with no more ID than a doubtful copy of an unverified police report? Or, in last week's case, a handwritten statement of an alleged police report that did not exist.
Aloha Airlines spokesman Stu Glauberman says his airline has procedures to deal with passengers who do not have proper identification, although for security reasons the airline will not discuss them. Hawaiian could not be reached for comment.
TSA's Melendez says he understands that Tadaki may have "advised" Pacific Wings on request that the police report was good enough. But he says Tadaki did not tell Pacific Wings it should board the passenger.
McKinney laughed at that interpretation of what happened.
The local TSA office did not return phone calls.
Kahlstorf says airlines have legal authority to accept other kinds of ID if they want, but none of them do, because they are liable for anything that passenger may do.
A call to the police for a lost ID report, he says, does not come close to what TSA requires airlines to do in checking on passengers, which includes matching passenger names against watch lists, trying similar spellings and other, confidential steps used to verify the identity of a passenger.
He also says that Pacific Wings spent a lot of money training its workers, and it ruins that effort if contract security agents or TSA officers give conflicting advice.
In addition, at a meeting in Honolulu a week ago, airlines were warned that TSA is running spoof passengers to check on airline security procedures. That is all the more reason, he says, for Pacific Wings to stick strictly to the rules.
McKinney's letter asks the federal security director at Kahului Airport to ensure that:
Both TSA agents and airport security officers "act consistent with the confines of the mandate." (The mandate is a TSA directive to airlines, which is secret.)
That representatives of Wackenhut and TSA "never interject themselves into a customer's dissatisfaction with any Pacific Wings internal policies."
That TSA "never be party to manufacture of a police report to circumvent Pacific Wings passenger ID media requirements."
That "TSA and airport security engender the trust of Pacific Wings employees so that they can again know that these officials are there to protect them against all threats."
McKinney says he talked with Meyer late Wednesday and was assured that if a breakdown did happen, "it won't happen again."
Meyer was still investigating but says that if the Pacific Wings report was accurate, "that needs to be dealt with."
My guess is the person is who they said they were.
It's not like you'd ever see a "fake" drivers license, or voter registration that was bogus.
C'mon we're witnessing the final results of years of liberals and Democrats with the aid of Republicans as well destroy our country. We can't even force someone to produce identification to vote in our elections... illegal aliens elected the Congresswoman from California who ran against Dornam.
The judges allow criminal "liberal" behavior (gay marriages, illegal aliens voting, illegal aliens allowed to attend public schools, felons mask their identity, child molesters to be free) but screw conservatives to the wall for precise enforcement of bureaucratic nonsense... (gun ranges shut down for causing "pollution, self defense law suits by criminals, jail time for the use of a firearm in assaults, hate crime laws for police trying to do their jobs.).....
This is a classic socialist nightmare... a bunch of bureaucrats in a circle pointing a finger at each other as planes get blown up and criminals go free.
Welcome to the "New World Order".
Oh, yeah. They didn't do it, and they'll never do it again.
Someone please remind me that all low-paid private security guards are entirely trustworthy, and should be obeyed over my own companies written security regulations. You know, the ones that are federal law.
Next time, maybe they'll be smart enough to get the TSA managers directives in writing.
If I understand your statement, it's that TSA requires the photo ID to be current. If the only ID I had was a US passport that expired yesterday, TSA would deny me boarding. I'm suggesting that they shouldn't be that rigid.
With respect to the person in Hawaii, it may be that the temporary driver's license had no picture.
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