Pictures show breach remains at airport

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

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ATLANTA - A Channel 2 investigation exposed what top lawmakers and air safety experts agree is a significant security breach at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant has been working with a whistleblower for more than six months to uncover ongoing details of this breach.

Diamant received new pictures within the last two weeks that showed the breach at the airport is still ongoing and showed them to U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens.

"It's intolerable, absolutely intolerable. The American people deserve better than this," Broun said.

The photographs were taken by a whistleblower who works for the airline catering company, Gate-Gourmet.

The photos show rows of unsealed catering carts waiting to be loaded onto planes at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

"I worry about that all the time. That was my main reason for coming here," the whistleblower said.

Broun told Diamant he thinks we should all be worried, because federal law states that catering supplies must be sealed to, "ensure easy, visual detection of tampering."

Six months ago, the same whistleblower brought Diamant undercover video shot inside Gate Gourmet's Atlanta operation that first exposed the access to unsealed carts after they have been inspected.

"I can bring a gun in there if I want to, a bomb, anything," said the whistleblower.

Air safety expert John Nance told Diamant this is a big security breach.

"Basically, you have completely compromised all elements of security," said Nance.

After seeing Diamant's stories that aired last November, top lawmakers in Washington thought so, too.

Last November, senators demanded answers from TSA Administrator John Pistole.

Pistole promised them and Diamant that the TSA would investigate. "I'll look at it and assess if we need to make changes," Pistole said.

The TSA's investigation found, "No violation of security regulations."

Former TSA administrator Kip Hawley told Diamant that it does not mean the unsealed carts are not a problem.

"If there's a security threat, that's outside the regulation, there's no excuse for it, but the regulation says it's OK," Hawley said.

Broun and fellow committee member Mike Rogers of Alabama ordered the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General to look into all of this.

"We intend to follow this through," Rogers said.

The Inspector General's report is classified, so Channel 2 Action News does not have access to it.

Broun has tried for months to set up a classified briefing from TSA with no luck.

"It is incomprehensible that TSA would continue to stonewall me, continue to stonewall my staff in trying to set up this meeting," Broun said.

Rogers just recently got his briefing and sent us a statement saying he still, "intends to hold a hearing on access controls in the near future."

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The TSA still stands firm claiming that despite the law's language, "the assertion that the law requires the sealing of individual catering carts is incorrect," and they have, "developed procedures to ensure the secure movement of catering supplies, carts and vehicles."

The specifics are secret and Hawley told Diamant that if lawmakers and experts are truly wrong about the risk, the TSA should tell them why.

"You'd love to have somebody who knows all the facts tell you straight up," Hawley said.

The TSA maintains when and where catering carts are sealed vary by location. Gate Gourmet told Diamant it is in full compliance with TSA rules and would welcome any opportunity to review policies and procedures with the TSA.


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