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How Will Airport Security Have To Change

Aired September 12, 2001 - 05:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VINCE CELLINI, CNN ANCHOR: Four planes hijacked and brought down in one day. It has many questioning the safety of the sky.

Philip Baum is the editor of "Aviation Security International," a former security chief of TWA, and he joins us from London this morning. Good morning, Mr. Baum.

PHILIP BAUM, FMR. SECURITY CHIEF, TWA: Good morning to you.

CELLINI: Sir, this is the question that many Americans are asking right now. How could this happen? How could 4 commercial airliners be hijacked in the morning? It's just beyond belief. How did it happen?

BAUM: Absolutely, it is an absolute tragedy. The real nightmare scenario for the aviation security industry, and of course for the American people in the world as a whole. The only thing that could have been worse would have been if it had been a chemical or biological attack on one of these cities.

It would appear that the real planning has been on the intelligence side in preventing these incidents. In the past intelligence has worked. You only have to go back to 1995 when American intelligence basically thwarted in what was known as the Bojinka (ph) plot, the blowing up of 12 American airliners on one single day. That day, American intelligence worked. September the 11th, 2001, unfortunately it all fell apart.

The pictures that we've all been witnessing are those of really a war scene. You could have been seeing those pictures of the Balkans or of the Middle East, and yet this was downtown Manhattan, downtown Washington. And it just sort of reminds me of...

CELLINI: Excuse me, Mr. Baum. You talked about the overall picture in intelligence, but what about the basics of airport security? And that is these people commandeering a plane.

Would we be shocked at how easily that could be done, and how easily it might have been done yesterday?

BAUM: I would love to say that I was shocked. The truth is, I wasn't. I was shocked by the outcome and the fact that probably at least 12 people could have decided to go to their deaths in such a tragic manner, bringing and killing so many other innocent people in the process.

Yes, airport security procedures are going to have to be reveiwed, especially domestically in the United States. I don't think it's a surprise that they targeted American Airlines and United Airlines, basically the two giants of the aviation industr. It used to be Pan Am and TWA. It's no surprise that they targeted flights that were going to the west coast, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, so that on impact those planes would have been carrying far more fuel than any other aircraft in teh sky. So the impact would have been that much greater.

But certainly, domestic aviation security is going to have to be reviewed. But that said, it's not such an easy thing to do. In Europe, we have a situation where passengers -- only the passengers can go to the gates. In the United States, as many of your viewers will be well aware, anybody meeting or greeting passengers can go through the security check points and up to the gates, meaning that there's an increased stress on these screeners.

CELLINI: Mr. Baum, maybe as a security expert, you can tell us exactly what pilots and flight attendants are instructed to do in case of an emergency, in case of a hijacking. What are there immediate instructions procedurally?

BAUM: Well, the procedures, unlike mechanical failures, are basically to evaluate the type of hijacker. There are four different types of hijackers. There are criminals. There are terrorists. There are asylum seekers and there are the insane or the mentally disturbed. And this may be a combination of different types. But you have to react to a given -- to the type of hijacker you have.

Now if these -- as we're led to believe that these were a very violent people who simply got out of their seats and started slashing flight attendants, then there was only so much that one could do. And one would have expected them to have just gone back to their natural survival instincts and done whatever they could possibly do to survive.

CELLINI: You ...

BAUM: Though I do not believe is the case ...

CELLINI: Go ahead, sir. Excuse me. Go ahead.

BAUM: So, I certainly don't believe that it was the pilots themselves, even at knife point or gun point that would have intentionally flown their aircraft into the twin powers or into the Pentagon.

CELLINI: You mentioned this briefly, you touch on this. But what will this mean for the future, security-wise, for commercial airlines? What can you see maybe immediately and through the first few months after the situation?

BAUM: Well certainly, there's already been an increase to Threat Code Delta in the United States. So security's basically at its highest level of alert once the planes go back in the skies. But that's so there won't be things like curbside check in. They will be restricting access to the gate areas. But I think it's possibly taken an incident like this to prove that domestic security has to be treated the same way as international security on international flights.

In other words, there needs to be positive passenger bag match, that if you check a bag into a flight that you travel on that flight, that only passengers go to the gate areas and certainly that the identification checks that are carried out by the checking agents are going to be much more stringent.

That said, I don't think we need to focus solely on screening of passengers. This was a very well orchestrated attack. This involved insiders, either in the airlines or in the airports. Certainly there are reports coming through this morning from Boston that, you know, people with contacts in the UAE, with flight manuals were found in a car Boston. These people knew what they were doing. They probably had very good contacts and they didn't necessarily go through the passenger screening points.

CELLINI: All right. Philip Baum, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

VINCE CELLINI, CNN ANCHOR: Four planes hijacked and brought down in one day. It has many questioning the safety of the sky.>

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