CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today renewed his call for a federal investigation into the availability of commercial airline pilots’ uniforms to the general public. In letters to members of the U.S. Senate and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Gov. Blagojevich outlined his concern that terrorists may be able to easily obtain pilots’ uniforms from the Internet and then use them to breach airport security.
“In these challenging times, our state and nation cannot afford the risk of a terrorist obtaining a pilot’s uniform and using it to breach airport security,” wrote Gov. Blagojevich. “We’ve made great strides in Illinois, and across the country, in our efforts to secure the homeland. I urge you to carry on this effort and quickly address this potential threat.”
The Governor sent letters calling for action to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as David Stone, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the TSA. The TSA is in charge of the security checkpoints at airports, where pilots are required to go through metal detectors and have their identification verified. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama have also urged Congress and the TSA to work towards closing this loophole.
To address this issue in Illinois, the Governor supports House Bill 1559, introduced by House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Plainfield), which would make it illegal to enter the secure areas of an airport while impersonating an airline pilot.
“I found it very disturbing at how easy it was to obtain a pilot’s uniform without giving any form of identification,” said Rep. Cross. “I will work with the Governor and our federal officials to ensure our airports in Illinois are as secure as possible.”
The Governor will also appeal to the Air Line Pilots Association to require the destruction of its members’ old or unused pilot uniforms in order to prevent those uniforms from making their way in to the wrong hands.