Breaches highlight secruity concerns at Newark Airport

February 18, 2011 9:24:27 AM PST
Security concerns at Newark Liberty Airport are taking center stage Friday after a number of security breaches in the last month. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez will be inspecting the airport himself.

After some significant security lapses, officials want to see the security measures with their own eyes to make sure the airport has made the necessary changes.

Menendez will touring the facility to see if things have improved or declined since a major security breach a year ago.

That's when a passenger breezed through an unmanned checkpoint, setting off a belated alert that shut down operations and stranded thousands of passengers for hours.

The regional director for the Transportation Security Administration took his own tour of Newark Liberty on Monday. His aides deny the tour had anything to do with a string of five security lapses in just 30 days.

According to one official at the TSA, the latest incidents go way beyond the airport's usual average of one security lapse every couple of months.

The lapses are apart from the airport's other major problem: TSA staffers are accused in the theft of $30,000 allegedly stolen from passengers as they were screened.

Monday was also the day that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the TSA's proposed budget for fiscal 2012, which raises spending 5.7 percent to $8.1 billion. Much of the $459 million increase would go to hiring another 3,270 employees, for a total TSA work force of 58,401. Most of those new jobs would be screeners.

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