Ch. 2 investigation exposes major security breach at Hartsfield-Jackson

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

ATLANTA,None - A Channel 2 Action News Investigation exposed a major security risk at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant spent eight weeks digging into it after a whistleblower came forward.

The whistleblower said he had to come forward because too many lives are on the line. What he showed us going on behind the scenes at Hartsfield-Jackson left us stunned.

Channel 2 notified the TSA nearly a month ago about a breach so big, security experts say passenger checkpoints could be a moot point.

At Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, passengers can't even get near a plane without getting sized up and shaken down.

But a whistleblower, who asked us to keep his identity a secret, claims things are much different behind the scenes.

The whistleblower said, "If I were some crazy lunatic, or Osama bin Laden sympathizer, I can come in and put anything on this plane."

That whistleblower works for Gate Gourmet, the world's largest airline catering company, where employees have direct access to airplanes.

"What's going on here should not be going on here ever," the whistleblower said.

Our whistleblower went undercover inside Gate Gourmet's Atlanta operation. The video he shot on the way in shows a company employee swiping his badge to let others pass through a security door. Seconds later, it shows workers doubling-up in a turnstile down the hall.

We showed the video to corporate security consultant Brent Brown.


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"The back door of this airport seems to be wide open, absolutely," Brown said. "This is a big, huge, gaping hole in aviation security right here."

It's a breach that gets bigger. Federal documents show under a law passed within weeks of 9/11, catering supplies must be sealed, "to ensure easy visual detection of tampering."

Yet, the video Channel 2 obtained shows rows of unsealed catering carts on the dock and in trucks waiting to be loaded onto flights.

"I can bring a gun in there if I want to, a bomb, anything," said the whistleblower. "That's how easy it is."

Our source also shot video that shows him putting unauthorized orange juice containers onto several carts as inspectors from Gate Safe, Gate Gourmet's sister company, stood nearby.

Pictures we pulled from Gate Safe's website shows what our source says should happen. Inspectors should go through carts with flashlights, then seal the carts with plastic zip ties.

"They're not doing that at all, period," our source said.

He said the carts that were sealed are the liquor carts to keep employees from stealing liquor.

The video even caught a Gate Safe worker saying, "All they care about is the liquor. It's just... They don't even care about the safety of the aircraft."

Channel 2 took the video to Gate Safe's headquarters in College Park and showed it to the company's security chief. The company denied Channel 2's request for an interview because of security reasons.


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A company representative did send an email that said the video "does not capture the full extent of the vigorous, systematic, and multi-layered catering access control procedures that are in place."

Aviation security expert John Nance doesn't buy it.

"All the nice pontificating statements from the head shed about how they are dedicated to safety doesn't cut it if anybody can get access to one cart one time," said Nance.

Nance said what he saw in that video is a big problem that needs to get fixed quickly before our enemies figure it out.

"There's no question that if this can happen at Atlanta, it can happen at any of the major airports in the country," said Nance.

As soon as Channel 2's Aaron Diamant confirmed the undercover video nearly a month ago, he called the TSA. He gave the TSA several chances to watch the video. He wanted to know if TSA officials were as worried as the experts and what the TSA planned to do to make sure the problem gets fixed. All the TSA sent to Channel 2 was a generic statement reiterating that it does regular inspections of airline security operations to make sure everyone is following the rules.


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