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I-Team: Airport Line-Skippers Raise Security Concerns

BOSTON (CBS) -- Concerns about airport security are being aired just as the heavy holiday travel season gets underway. Some passengers are being allowed to skip parts of the traditional screening process when boarding a plane.

Taking off shoes, dumping liquids, and emptying pockets have all become part of the regular routine for airline passengers in the post 9/11 world.

Sean Cameron of Lynn had an easy flight back to Logan Airport. He didn't have to do any of those safety measures before he got on his plane.

"They just funneled us into the pre-checked TSA line," he explained.

Cameron was in a long line when he was instructed by a TSA official to go into the pre-checked line, even though he had never gone through the screening process to get that designation.

"I smiled, nodded, and walked thru," he said.

Nearly 700,000 passengers have signed up for the TSA pre-check program. This requires a background check and the submission of fingerprints. There is also an $85 fee. In exchange, the passenger gets to go thru a simpler, hassle free line before boarding their plane.

Our sister station in New York, WCBS, also found unchecked passengers going thru pre-check at the three airports in their area.

One passenger told them, "Almost every time I have been thru pre-check at JFK, the lines have merged."

The TSA calls this process "Managed Inclusion." In a statement, the agency said "this combines the use of multiple layers of security to indirectly conduct a real-time assessment of passengers at select airports." They added its use is "depending on passenger volume, and other variables."

Former FBI agent and security consultant Manual Gomez is concerned about this policy. "Terrorists could simply keep probing our security and say, OK, statistically speaking, I will eventually get on the pre-check line and I could then board with any explosive device I choose."

James Boyle, another traveler at Logan, went thru the security clearance program. He thinks the TSA policy of managed inclusion presents a security issue.

"I had to go thru the whole background check and these people just periodically get picked up," he said.

WBZ Security Analyst Ed Davis is happy with this approach, believing it makes sense. By adding other security measures, like behavior assessment and canine unites, Davis believes safety can be maintained without inconvenience.

"Quite frankly, grandmothers who are coming thru with their grandchildren should not have to go thru the same level of scrutiny that some other people have to, considering the threat," added Davis.

The process of expediting unchecked passengers has caught the eye of Congressman Peter King, a member of the Homeland Security Committee. He said it takes just one person with bad intentions to create a tragedy.


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