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Journal & Topics - Roskam Unhappy About Possible TSA Tip-Off

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Journal & Topics - Roskam Unhappy About Possible TSA Tip-Off

Todd Wessell

Contending that a top Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official "cooked the books" in 2006 to generate favorable security results at various American airports, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-6th) said this week that a letter will be sent to the head of transportation security at O'Hare Airport expressing his outrage.

About a week ago, a national news report surfaced alleging that one high-level TSA executive tipped-off airport officials around the country that security inspections were about to be conducted. Whether the alleged tip-off involved security inspections at O'Hare is uncertain. Roskam represents much of the O'Hare area. Whether or not it involved O'Hare, if proven that a tip-off occurred, it "is a disgrace to the TSA and completely unacceptable," said Roskam.

Roskam's comments were made just two weeks after he visited O'Hare to conduct an inspection of safety measures and new equipment. He was specifically trying to identify what measures have been taken by the TSA to improve safety since a classified federal report revealed that security at certain airports was woefully lacking. That report showed that random tests to check security at Las Angeles's top airport failed 75% of the time, in 60% of the cases at O'Hare and 20% at San Francisco where a private firm is responsible.

"We will request to see the 2007 report," said Roskam spokesman Matt Vriesema Monday. "If we come up with a marginal increase, action will be taken."

The letter that will be sent to O'Hare TSA federal security director Kathleen Petrowsky will say that Roskam's office intends to check testing numbers every three months. In addition, Roskam is demanding to know how in 2006 a TSA official tipped-off airports about upcoming inspections.

"Our assertion is that the only reason to do that was to improve the testing numbers which were poor in 2005 and 2006 which didn't do the traveling public any good. Weaknesses need to be found," said Vriesema. He added: "All of Chicagoland uses O'Hare. It's a major terror target. Seventy-five million people fly through O'Hare every year. And people within the organization are willing to cook the books." Roskam's office learned of the TSA security tip off from a report from the Associated Press news service.

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