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Boston Globe Online / Nation | World
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Armed Guardsmen expected at Mass. Airports this week

By Douglas Belkin, Globe Staff, 9/30/2001


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Recent US terrorist threats

As many as 200 Massachusetts National Guard members wearing camouflage and carrying M-16s are expected to be working security details at Logan and six other airports across the state by week's end, a spokesman for Acting Governor Jane Swift says.

The call-up, about three weeks after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, comes as passengers are still on edge about air travel and security personnel remain on high alert.

Yesterday, the USAir terminal at Logan, Terminal B, was evacuated after two ticketed passengers slipped through a side door into the gate without going through a metal detector. The two passengers were searched, and then all passengers were readmitted after the terminal was swept for bombs.

''This is the type of reaction that passengers can expect in light of the heightened security,'' said Jose Juves, spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The National Guard troops to be stationed at airports - mostly infantry and military police - could begin two or three days of training at armories and at airports as early as tomorrow, Swift's spokesman, Jim Borghesani, said yesterday.

''We're looking to have them in place next week,'' he said.

The training will be conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration and will include managing conflicts and handling dangerous packages, said Jim Peters, an FAA spokeman.

The six-month call-up is the first of several steps the Bush administration is taking to encourage passengers to resume regular air travel in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The proposals President Bush announced in Chicago on Thursday stop short of ridding airport security of private companies, but the federal government will oversee and enforce new airport security standards, test and train security personnel, conduct extensive background checks, and supervise all baggage and passenger security, according to the White House.

Guard personnel will be stationed at 420 airports in all 50 states, according to Peters. The estimated $100 million to $150 million tab will be picked up by the federal government.

Each member of the Guard will carry an M-16 with 20 to 30 rounds of ammunition, according to Major Jayme Guido, spokeswoman for Massachusetts National Guard. Some training will be based on the Guard's protocol already in place for ongoing drug interdiction work. The National Guard has been helping out in airports for years, said Guido, though to a much lesser degree than it will be now.

The call-up comes as safety personnel have been stretched thin since the terrorist attacks. At Logan Aiport alone, 140 additional state and federal agents have been added to the patrols, according to Juves.

Still, evacuations and scares at airports have become almost commonplace. The pair detained by State Police at the USAir terminal yesterday were questioned and then released.

The evacuation came a day after the FAA reassigned Mary Carol Turano, the director of its security field office at Logan.

Security at Logan has come under intense scrutiny since two planes departing Boston were hijacked and rammed into the World Trade Center towers. The Globe reported last week that federal agents had slipped more guns and dummy bombs through security at Logan than at any other airport in the country. From 1991 through 2000, FAA agents testing the airlines' passenger screening at Logan slipped 234 guns and inert hand grenades and bombs past checkpoint guards or through their X-ray machines. The number is three times as many as at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, which has nearly three times as many passengers.

Among the security lapses: Logan does not have video cameras. Yesterday, Juves said Virginia Buckingham, Massport's executive director, had ordered security cameras for the airport two years ago and budgeted $2.2 million for their installation this fall after a safety audit is completed.

''That's obviously been delayed by the events of Sept. 11,'' he said.

This story ran on page A26 of the Boston Globe on 9/30/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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