2003-12-03 / View From the Middle

View From

The MiddleGuilty Airport Workers Should Be Tried For Treason
By Charles Rogers
View From The Middle By Charles Rogers Guilty Airport Workers Should Be Tried For Treason

The Middle
Guilty Airport Workers Should Be Tried For Treason

Some members of the media were calling it a "stunning breach of security," while some put the story on an inner page and dismissed it as only a little more than a big case of drug smuggling; a big story, to be sure, but not tremendous, as it should have been.

We’re talking about the story last week where 25 people — 19 from our own Kennedy Airport — were arrested on charges of smuggling more than 900 pounds of cocaine and hundreds of pounds of marijuana over the last 14 months from various overseas points. Although there were editorials about it, the story was, essentially, almost glossed over as just another crime story involving a series of felonies committed for greed.

It should have been blasted all over the front pages as a case of possible treason, something that could result in the death penalty, and it should be treated as such in the courts.

The story centers on what prosecutors are calling a case that had been going on for a decade — and certainly was in progress, fully, since September 11, 2001.

The suspects, along with six more in Miami, all apparently cargo and baggage handlers, al-legedly smuggled the drugs in over the last 14 months. Armed with detailed descriptions of baggage that contained the drugs, the handlers would divert the packages away from areas where customs inspectors would look and into areas where confederates would be able to pick them up.

U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, in announc-ing the arrests, was quoted as saying that it was a "classic inside job," noting that the suspects’ status as airport employees gave them access and unlimited opportunity, plus "the ability to act with virtual impunity."

Suppose — just suppose — the drugs were not drugs, but were weapons, and if not weapons, then, say, anthrax. Supposing (just supposing), these alleged crooks let them into the country without inspection, and suppose (just) they were smuggled, oh, so easily, into an area that handled medical supplies or school supplies or a quantity of anything, to be shipped out by truck anywhere in the country.

For the last ten years, according to one report, drugs were regularly smuggled onto international flights from Jamaica and Guyana. Some of the items seized included four luxury cars, in-cluding BMWs, and five guns. Our customs agents didn’t catch on until October of 2002, when one of the bad guys apparently made a mistake and left some drugs hanging around.

Last year, security screeners at airport gates were made federal workers and some of the people who had originally been hired were let go because they had previous records. That’s as far as it went, I guess. They must not have even looked at the cargo area!

What does this say about security. What excuse or reason can be given by the inept-at-best Of-fice of Homeland Security?

It’s a joke. If you’ve got enough money, you can buy security guards and anything else — even airport baggage handlers — and even if it might lead to the destruction of our country.

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