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Alarming Number Of Security Breaches At Airports

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O'Hare Security Line

A security line at O’Hare International Airport on Nov. 25, 2009. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite billions of dollars spent beefing up security since Sept. 11, 2001, a new report claims passengers may still be seriously vulnerable.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the security lines set up by the Transportation Security Administration are meant to keep passengers protected from any type of threats or violence at the airport and during a flight.

But according to a new report out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there have been more than 25,000 security breaches at U.S. airports in the past decade. That breaks down to about seven per day.

“It’s hard not to wonder when Congress is going to finally wake up and realize the situation at TSA is unacceptable,” said transportation expert Aaron Gellman of Northwestern University.

Gellman was reacting late last month to a surprising security breach.

Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, 24, who had a home address in Willowbrook, allegedly got on a flight from New York to Los Angeles last month with a University of Michigan student ID and a day-old boarding pass that belonged to somebody else last week.

Noibi was originally interviewed by authorities and then released. Then ten days later, he did it again, using a false boarding pass to get on a flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta.

FBI agents took him into custody.

The incident was especially troubling to officials because Transportation Security Administration agents are required to match boarding passes with passenger ID’s, like driver’s licenses — something that seems not to have occurred in this case.

“I think it’s a very black mark on the TSA’s reputation,” Gellman said at the time.

The newly-released Homeland Security report shows since November 2001, 6,000 security breaches were from the TSA improperly screening carry-on bags. Almost 3,000 incidents occurred when passengers got through security without proper screening, and about 1,300 breaches happened when someone got through airport perimeters that were not secure.

The documents also say more than 14,000 breaches involved people entering “limited access” areas by going through doors and passageways they had no business entering, or unauthorized people going from airport buildings to planes.

At O’Hare International Airport Wednesday morning, one passenger who flies frequently reacted to the findings in the new report.

“It doesn’t make me feel good, but no, I’m not surprised,” said traveler Chris Fay. “When you have that much travel happening very day, it’s just the law of averages. I think the big story is the emergencies, or the things that didn’t happen because we had this much security.”

TSA officials say the word breach is broadly defined and can mean accidental violations that aren’t a real threat or danger to the public.

Still, this study will be dissected and pored over Wednesday during a House subcommittee hearing.

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