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Trump Budget Nixes Post-9/11 Airport Security Programs

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President Donald Trump's budget proposal plans to eliminate $80 million in grants that provide extra security at airports, in order to divert resources to the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to the Washington Post, those grants help pay to place local police officers in airports to conducts sweeps in public facilities, as well as provide extra training to Transportation Security Administration officers to recognize unusual passenger behavior.

“These are important programs," said a former DHS official who asked the Washington Post for anonymity. "It’s hard to quantify it, because all of this is about risk. This is about security, so the more security elements we have in place, the more secure the traveling public in railroad stations and airports are going to be."

Democratic Rep. Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, said the cuts were simply "outrageous."

"You’re going to charge another dollar for security, but you’re going to divert the money to building a wall," he said. "Every time you fly you’re going to contribute a buck to Trump’s Maginot Line on the Mexican border."

Indeed, Trump's budget calls for an extra $1 fee placed on each leg of a flight, to pay for TSA fees. The current fee is $5.60.

Trump’s goal is "to ensure that the cost of government services is not subsidized by taxpayers who do not directly benefit from those programs," reported USA Today.

John S. Pistole, the former FBI deputy director who served as the head of TSA from 2010 to 2014, told the Washington Post that Trump should ask TSA to find ways to cuts its budget and better streamline its own security efforts.

"If I were still administrator, I would say, give me a bottom line of how much you want to cut, and then let me work the agency and do some reductions that would not just be wholesale," Pistole said. "What outcome are they trying to achieve other than just reduce the budget?"

A February 2017 report from the House Homeland Security Subcommittee said that one of the primary threats facing airports and passengers is "insider threats" from airport employees.

While the overwhelming majority of these airport workers take the inherent responsibility seriously, there are increasing concerns that insider threats to aviation security are on the rise. Recent insider threat examples discussed in this report include an attempt to detonate a bomb at an airport, gun and drug smuggling, an expressed willingness to smuggle explosives as well as employees who became involved in terrorist activities overseas. In all of these instances, the employees in question had access to secure areas of the airport. These insider threats, and the lack of adequate access controls at airports nationwide, are of particular concern given the rise of terrorist groups bent on penetrating U.S. airport security to commit terrorist acts and 'lone wolf' attacks being inspired by terrorist groups like ISIS.

Sources: Washington Post, USA Today, House Homeland Security Subcommittee / Photo Credit: Ron Kiley/Flickr

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