What Can We Learn From Last 9/11 Liability Case?

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Massport seeks release from 9/11 suit
Last unsettled case from attacks goes to court this week
July 24, 2011|By Stephanie Ebbert, Globe Staff

Nearly 10 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks transformed air travel and robbed a confident nation of its sense of security, the Massachusetts Port Authority is facing a federal lawsuit that is forcing officials there to re-live some of the agency’s darkest days.

If lawyers fail to persuade a federal judge to release Massport from a negligence case filed by a Boston family, Logan International Airport could be exposed to its first liability claim in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a messy public trial airing claims that weak security and hapless management contributed to the national tragedy.

The Bavis family, which has steadfastly refused to settle its suit against United Airlines, Massport, and other defendants, will get their first day in court Wednesday, when US District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein will hear arguments on whether Massport should remain a defendant in the wrongful death case of Mark Bavis. It is the last Sept. 11 case that has not been settled and would be the only one to proceed to trial.

Bavis was a 31-year-old hockey scout who was killed when United Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center South Tower after being hijacked by terrorists who boarded at Logan.

The Bavis family did not respond to requests for comment. Their case is supported in court by lawyers for World Trade Center Properties LLC and other the property owners who are also suing United and Massport.

A trial is scheduled for November, but lawyers for Massport hope to persuade the judge to release the agency on summary judgment, arguing that federal law gave the airlines sole responsibility for security.

“There simply is no connection between Massport’s responsibilities and the terrorist attack on September 11th,’’ James J. Welna, a security consultant and witness for Massport, said in a report filed with court documents in the case. “Massport’s approach to checkpoint security was entirely consistent with both federal regulations and industry standards at the time.’’

But the plaintiffs want to hash out at trial, for the first time, what exactly went wrong on Sept. 11, 2001. They view this case as their last chance to hold airports accountable for security problems that they believe contributed to the attacks. And they suspect they may unearth details that were not explored during the federal 9/11 Commission probe, which catalogued myriad security breakdowns preceding the terrorist attacks.

“Many of the families wanted to go to court. But the judge kept pushing them to settle, so they eventually settled,’’ said Brian F. Sullivan, an Federal Aviation Administration special agent who retired in January 2001 and has been closely watching the Bavis suit. “If they settle, then none of this information comes out. Massport was never held liable, never part of the process.’’

One revelation already unearthed in discovery for this case is testimony from an American Airlines technician who said he had spotted one of the terrorists acting suspiciously inside Logan Airport months before the attacks. Court documents show that Stephen J. Wallace told a State Police trooper to keep an eye on two men who were taking photographs and video of a security checkpoint in May 2001.

“I said, specifically, these two clowns are up to something,’’ Wallace said in a deposition filed in US District Court in the Southern District of New York. He found the men so suspicious that he asked the trooper to hold them if there were problems with their bags and urged two Massport employees to watch them, court documents say. Wallace was then called away and was uncertain what became of the men.

Six days after the attacks, Wallace was interviewed by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and identified one of the men he had seen as 9/11 ringleader and American Airlines Flight 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta, court documents show.

“Wallace is positive the man he saw was Atta, who was wearing a shiny, solid gray 1960s type of shirt,’’ the ATF report filed in US District Court states. Wallace declined to be interviewed.

Massport’s lawyers dismissed the claim, saying in their own court filing that Atta was in Florida in May 2001 and that there were probably countless opportunities to deter the 19 hijackers in the months and years leading up to the attacks.

Though Massport has never been grilled in court about its role in the terrorist attacks, the agency faced intense public scrutiny in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when it was criticized for its culture of politics and patronage. Massport’s executive director at the time, Virginia Buckingham, was a former chief of staff and campaign manager for former governor William F. Weld. Massport’s public safety director, Joseph Lawless, had been Weld’s driver.

The Bavis lawsuit rests in large part on showing that Lawless had been trying to tighten security at the airport, which, the plaintiffs argue, proves that Massport had the authority to do so. Critical to the case is an April 2001 memo, previously reported by the Globe, in which Lawless sought an immediate meeting with Buckingham to discuss solutions to dealing with terrorist risks.

“Recent covert efforts to sneak contraband beyond security by a local news media outlet have shown extremely poor job performance by the security checkpoint operators,’’ Lawless wrote. The security screeners’ performance, he wrote, “damages the entire security environment at the airport.’’

The Bavis case also focuses on the fact that Lawless was concerned enough about security to try to launch a State Police undercover operation to backstop screeners just eight weeks before Sept. 11, 2001.

“These efforts in the face of the acknowledged screening deficiencies belie Massport’s repeated canard that only the airlines - and not Massport - undertook responsibility for checkpoint security,’’ Jason Cohen, a lawyer for the World Trade Center Properties, wrote in a brief. “If that were so, why was Massport’s Director of Public Safety working so hard to improve screening?’’

But Lawless’s April 2001 memo notes that security is the airlines’ responsibility. And his effort to enlist undercover State Police at checkpoints was opposed by the airlines - and ultimately the FAA, which said Massport did not have the legal authority to conduct such tests.

The Bavis family cites its own expert witness, airport security consultant Michael K. Pilgrim, to call security at Massport a “sieve.’’ He reported that screeners at Logan were unskilled, insufficiently trained, and had a high turnover rate, and he noted that a review of the depositions of screeners working at the terminals the terrorists used Sept. 11 found that many of them had difficulty communicating in basic English.

“Airport security at Logan Airport was in such an abysmal state on Sept. 11, 2001, as to constitute a systemic failure,’’ Pilgrim said in his report, filed with court documents.

Although Massport claims it had no authority over security, the lawyers for the World Trade Center Properties also note in their brief that Massport exerted authority over security screening - to speed it up, rather than strengthen it.

Massport’s Guaranteed Passenger Standards Program required airlines to move passengers through security checkpoints within five minutes or face penalties under their lease with Logan Airport. In his testimony, Massport’s former aviation director, Thomas J. Kinton, acknowledged that Massport imposed that program without consulting the FAA or undertaking any analysis of how it might affect security. The program was discontinued before Sept. 11.

“If Massport used those powers to influence the air carriers to meet customer service standards, Massport could most certainly have used those same powers to influence and coerce air carrier behavior as to the notoriously deficient checkpoint screening,’’ Cohen wrote in his brief.

Massport lawyers counter that the transportation system’s defenses were unprepared for hijackers who would use planes themselves as weapons. In one brief, they noted that the terrorists “escaped the notice of the most powerful intelligence gathering entity on earth and, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, with years of studied planning, they were able to board any aircraft at any airport they chose.’’


180 Massport workers face ax
Three top officials reportedly included

By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff, 10/11/2001

Three high-profile Cellucci administration patronage appointees are among
the 180 Massachusetts Port Authority employees who face the ax today as the
agency's board takes up a plan to cut $51 million from its operating budget.

Board members late yesterday were given a plan to deal with a sudden and
dramatic downturn in Massport revenues since the terrorist attacks last
month. The plan was being kept under wraps last night.

But authority officials who did not want to be named confirmed that the
layoff list includes former state representative Emanuel ''Gus'' Serra,
former state elder affairs chief Franklin Ollivierre, and former Revere
mayor Robert Haas - all of whom have come to symbolize what critics say is
the patronage system that former governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci
used for political payoffs.

According to the authority officials, the seven-member board will also be
asked to cut back many support services and programs at Logan Airport,
including big reductions in the internal bus routes and staffing at the
parking garages.

Also slated for elimination is the international marketing office and its $5
million budget and roughly 27 staff members. The former director, Charles
Yellen, left in December and his post has not been filled. The office was
charged with developing foreign airline routes and encouraging Massachusetts
firms to do business overseas.

The only revenue-raising measure offered to the board is a hike in parking
fees that would bring in $5 million.

The layoffs would come in two phases, the officials said. The first would be
an immediate reduction of 100 staff members, effective Nov. 1. The second
phase, involving another 80 workers, would take effect Nov. 30.

The most high-profile layoff would be Serra, the $128,000-per-year director
of strategic planning. Cellucci appointed the East Boston Democrat to the
post after Serra broke party ranks and endorsed Cellucci in the 1998
governor's race. The plan calls for the elimination of Serra's office and
the layoff of his four assistants.

Since his appointment in March 1999, Serra has worked on issues relating to
East Boston and other Logan-area communities. He also is involved with the
authority's efforts to promote regional aviation, part of the Massport
campaign to sell a new runway.

In a brief statement, Serra said he understood why his name had to be added
to the layoff list. ''Given the severity to the entire agency and what we
are all dealing with, these things are happening and I fall into that
category,'' Serra said. ''I am one of many, many people who obviously have
to be let go.''

Cellucci made Ollivierre the authority's $73,000-a-year director of special
projects. Haas, another Democrat, was rewarded with a $64,000-a-year job for
backing Weld and Cellucci.

The decision to push Serra, Ollivierre, and Haas out of their jobs shows the
authority is heeding Swift's call for including high-profile symbols of the
patronage system in the cutbacks.

''I've made it pretty clear there will be no sacred cows and that no person
at Massport should be protected,'' Swift told reporters yesterday as the
authority's staff was putting the finishing touches on the fiscal plan. ''I
have been very clear in my public and private conversations that they should
take the necessary steps to bring the fiscal house back in order without
protecting anyone.''

In one smaller cost-saving measure, Massport executive director Virginia
Buckingham is also expected to reorganize her staff. One assistant, Kristin
Lepore, a former State House budget analyst, is not on the layoff list, but
is planning to leave the agency.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 10/11/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.


Walruses' fall

A Boston Globe editorial, 10/12/2001

SHARP PUBLIC attacks on management practices at the Massachusetts Port
Authority succeeded finally in piercing the heavy layers of ''walrus''
blubber that characterize the quasi-public agency. Yesterday Massport's
board voted to cast off roughly 180 employees in November, including several
highly paid patronage hires.

In 1989, William Weld, then a gubernatorial candidate, first vowed to
''expel the walruses'' from state bureaucracy to control spending. But he
and his Republican successor, Paul Cellucci, easily kept pace with the
patronage practices of their Democratic predecessors. And Acting Governor
Jane Swift put in time on both the receiving and giving end of patronage

At Massport, which operates Logan Airport, patronage hiring soared. But it
fell on Sept. 11 when hijackers took control of two flights out of Logan and
crashed the planes into the World Trade Center. The public remains shaken by
an agency that seems to have put more thought into creating and protecting
jobs for friends of the administration than safeguarding airline passengers.

There is a role for loyalists in every political administration. But that
role should never include the placement of marginally qualified personnel in
sensitive public-safety roles. Joseph Lawless, former Governor Weld's driver
and Massport's former chief of security, has been stripped specifically of
his airport duties. But he continues to draw a full salary for his seaport
duties. The larding at Massport lives on so long as Lawless remains.

Massport director Virginia Buckingham was the ultimate patronage hire,
having risen from Weld's press office to become former Governor Paul
Cellucci's chief of staff. Foolishly, Cellucci made no effort to find a
professional port director. And Buckingham brought almost no technical
expertise to the job.

Buckingham has succeeded to a degree at reforming the ''old boy'' culture at
Massport. But her strengths - public relations and consensus building - are
not the main requirements for managing an international airport or a working

It is questionable whether Buckingham will survive an in-depth analysis of
Massport now being conducted by a blue-ribbon commission headed by Marshall
Carter, a retired banker. The organization and governance of the agency are
almost certain to change dramatically. The airport and port operations, for
example, could be separated to reflect their specific missions.
Professionalism, not political juice, should guide personnel decisions.

At yesterday's board meeting there was much discussion about who would be
jettisoned in which round of dismissals. But a few weeks here or there are
not the issue. Massport needs peak performance and executives who are
capable of sustaining it.

This story ran on page A22 of the Boston Globe on 10/12/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.


Massport board OK's new fees, 180 layoffs

By Raphael Lewis and Brian Mooney, Globe Staff, 10/12/2001

Facing growing financial and political pressures, the Massachusetts Port
Authority's board of directors yesterday voted to raise parking fees, reduce
bus service, and lay off up to 180 employees, including three high-profile
political patronage hires.

The moves, which still leave dozens of politically connected workers at
Massport, came as the board agreed to pump $10 million into security at
Logan International Airport, where hijackers boarded the two flights that
were flown into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11.

Added to the increased safety spending, which will eventually bring an
airport security director and a counterterrorism expert, the board also
approved seven measures to tighten Logan's security.

Created by interim security chief John DiFava, the measures call for:

Increasing the maximum fine for airline security lapses from $500 per
violation to $2,000, and submitting legislation to push that to $10,000;

Charging those who access ramp and runway areas without identification
badges, as well as any employees who aid them, with criminal trespassing;

Fining companies located on airport property, as well as their employees,
when employees violate security rules;

Allowing for the eviction of businesses other than airlines (the Federal
Aviation Administration is the only authority that can evict airlines) that
show a pattern of security lapses;

Providing clear definitions of what constitutes a security breach;

Billing airlines for the cost of security breaches, such as overtime pay and
costs associated with calling in a bomb squad or evacuating a terminal.

Virginia Buckingham, Massport's executive director, said the moves were made
to enhance security and cut costs, and not for political expediency. ''This
analysis was not a political exercise,'' Buckingham said, after the board's
nearly six-hour meeting.

Still, several employees referred to Massport by politicians kept their
jobs. Among those were Charlotte Amorello, a $52,175 project coordinator and
the wife of Matthew Amorello, the state's highway commissioner; Alissa G.
Porcaro, a $40,404 executive assistant in the communications department and
cousin of Acting Governor Jane M. Swift; and Julie A. McDonnell, a $92,465
deputy port director for finance and sister-in-law of Stephen J. O'Neill,
former Governor Paul Cellucci's chief of staff.

The layoffs will take place in two phases, will equal about 15 percent of
the authority's workforce, and result in the elimination of two highly
controversial Massport departments by Nov. 30.

One of the departments, strategic planning, was created for Emanuel ''Gus''
Serra, the former Democratic state representative from East Boston, after he
backed Cellucci in the 1998 governor's race. Serra, who will lose his job
Nov. 1, made $128,000 a year.

The 25-employee international marketing department, which will be eliminated
by Nov. 30, became a public relations liability after reports the office
spent millions on foreign missions to drum up business for Massachusetts
that had dubious results. That department also had workers with strong
political ties, such as Lorena A. Giovanetti, the $48,609 managing director
who came in with former executive director Stephen Tocco in 1993. Tocco
created the $5 million-a-year office that promotes foreign travel and trade.

Also losing jobs are Mark Drago, a $74,000 destination marketing manager and
former Cellucci aide, and Loren M. Devereaux, a former Cellucci assistant
who is now a $47,000-a-year marketing specialist.

Mark Robinson, who chairs Massport's board, said yesterday the department
was valuable, but duplicated the mission of the Massachusetts Office of
Travel and Tourism. Jeffrey Nelson, a research analyst with Local 26 of the
International Hotel Workers Union who attended the meeting, said the
decision to eliminate International Marketing was a bad mistake, given the
region's ailing tourist economy. ''International tourism is extremely
important to Boston,'' Nelson said. ''They represent 5 percent of the
tourists, but 20 percent of tourist spending, and given the fact that the
city's hotel industry is cutting jobs and hours, I think the timing of this
decision is really bad.''

But it has been the devastating financial downturn by the airline industry
that followed the Sept. 11 attacks that forced the board to close a $51
million budget shortfall, officials said. Leslie Kirwan, Massport's director
of administration and finance, estimates passenger revenues will end up
totaling 70 percent of what was budgeted, and parking revenues will be even
lower. To address the losses, the board also agreed to freeze hiring,
terminate consultant contracts, cut senior managers' pay by 5 percent, and
cut supply purchases throughout the authority.

It was clear yesterday that Massport's most prominent patronage employees
were targeted, per the tacit instructions of Swift, who said there should be
''no sacred cows'' at Massport.

Franklin Ollivierre, the former state elder affairs chief who made $73,000 a
year as Massport's director of special projects, lost his job. Robert Haas,
the former mayor of Revere, another Democrat who backed Cellucci and was
rewarded with a $64,000-a-year post as port development specialist, also
lost his job.

As for the other 147 to 177 facing unemployment, Massport refused to release
names, saying it had yet to notify all of the employees affected. Many will
be people with political ties, but some with ties will remain employed -
including the entire Massport Fire Department, most of whose members had one
or more political sponsors. James M. O'Neill, O'Neill's brother, is among
them, a $60,857-a-year firefighter appointed in 1999.

Hinting that politics should play a smaller role at Massport, Robinson said
the governor-appointed board he chairs should become a paid panel of
security, aviation, and financial experts, if Swift decides Logan should be
run by a separate authority. He also acknowledged he would likely lose his
position if that happened.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 10/12/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

Why they chose Logan
The New Republic ^ | September 20, 2001 | Michael Crowley

Posted on Friday, September 21, 2001 11:16:42 AM by testforecho

Into the Breach
by Michael Crowley

Post date 09.20.01 | Issue date 10.01.01

Two years before Osama bin Laden's suicidal disciples boarded a pair of planes at Boston's Logan Airport destined for the World Trade Center, a minor Boston politician was nabbed in a humiliating scandal. Under the screaming headline "Booze Cruise," The Boston Herald published photographs of Peter Blute, the executive director of the Massachusetts Port Authority, on a publicly funded Tuesday-afternoon boat ride around Boston Harbor. Blute's companions included a sleazy lobbyist and fawning young women, including a girl named Gidget, who immortalized herself by defiantly flashing her breasts for the Herald photographer capturing it all from shore.

At the time the disgrace seemed to have little relevance beyond the cutthroat world of Boston politics; Blute was just another small-time local politico caught slacking off on the job. In light of September 11, however, Blute's story looks somewhat different. For it is Massport, the agency he once headed--an agency still managed by an appalling roster of political appointees--that runs Logan Airport.

For years Massport has been a dumping ground for Bay State pols, a place where the state's governors have rewarded friends and allies with comfortable sinecures, qualifications be damned, "a patronage trough where every hack's loser cousin feeds," as The Boston Globe put it last year. Blute was installed as executive director--with ultimate responsibility for all airport operations--by then-Governor Bill Weld within weeks of losing his congressional seat in 1996. His prior experience consisted of five years as a state representative and a short career working in public relations for professional sports teams. Blute's predecessor, Stephen Tocco, was little better: a pharmacist by training who had served as Weld's economic affairs adviser.

Weld's successor as governor, Paul Cellucci, proved even more shamelessly patronage-minded. When the state's secretary for elderly affairs resigned in 1998 amid accusations that he wasn't showing up for work, Cellucci promptly named him to be Massport's director of special projects. After an undistinguished Democratic state representative named Gus Serra supported the Republican Cellucci's 1998 election campaign, he was rewarded with a $119,000 per year job as Massport's director of strategic planning. And when Cellucci became ambassador to Canada earlier this year, his deputy chief of staff found a new job--where else?--at Massport, as deputy executive director. The cronyism has extended all the way down to the agency's bottom echelons, where the brother of Cellucci's former chief of staff landed a job as a Logan firefighter in 1997.

ut the patronage hires who deserve the strictest scrutiny in the wake of the double hijacking at Logan are Virginia Buckingham, the current Massport executive director, and Joseph Lawless, the current director of airport security. Buckingham, a 36-year-old political operative who served as Cellucci's campaign manager and chief of staff, was put in charge of Massport two years ago, after Blute was ousted for the booze cruise fiasco. Cellucci never even went through the motions of searching for qualified outsiders--leading the late South Boston Congressman Joe Moakley to scoff, impolitely, that Cellucci had taken "some girl sitting in the next office and put her in charge." For his part, Lawless is a former Massachusetts state trooper who entered Boston politics by serving as Weld's chauffeur for two years; he, in turn, replaced another state trooper and driver (for former Governor Michael Dukakis's wife, Kitty). In other words, Logan's last two airport security chiefs took the job with little or no experience in airport security. But that didn't stop Lawless from demanding that he be free from oversight by one of the few respected professionals in Massport's upper management, Aviation Director Thomas Kinton. According to The Boston Globe, Lawless largely got his way because Massport officials "did not want to challenge the governor's handpicked choice." The agency did hire William Jaillet, a longtime Federal Aviation Administration security official, to serve as Lawless's deputy. But Jaillet resigned the post in 2000 amid sexual harassment charges, and it went unfilled for over a year--until just days before the attacks.

Incredibly, even September 11 doesn't seem to have changed the culture at Massport. Lawless stunned Justice Department officials the day after the attack by telling a federal marshal in charge of overseeing airport security upgrades that her input, in the words of the Globe, "was not welcome." Says Leigh B. Boske, an expert on transportation and port authorities at the University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, "I know of no other airport quite like Logan." Most large airports or port authorities, Boske says, are headed by experienced transportation professionals chosen either from within the agency or after a thorough nationwide search. (There are other exceptions, notably New York's Port Authority, which oversees Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports and has recently been run by political allies of the governor.) The terrorists, he adds, "have been planning for a year. That says to me they have had some time to go around the country and look for the weakest link. I have a feeling that [Logan] was not an accident." Aviation consultant Michael Boyd agrees: "Political appointees ... have allowed [security problems] to fester over the years" at Logan.

e may never know to what extent Massport's hack culture made Logan vulnerable to last week's hijackers. But the airport's security flaws were well-known long before last Tuesday's cataclysm. Since 1997, agents from the FAA have succeeded in breaching Logan security nearly 200 times--slipping weapons past careless screeners at x-ray machines and metal-detectors, or accessing restricted areas like ramps, baggage rooms, and even empty airplanes. According to The Boston Globe, the number of violations found by the FAA at Logan in a 1999 audit was three times the national average. That same year a teenager dressed in Hasidic garb (he later said he was trying to impress Israeli intelligence agents) breached an airport fence, walked two miles across the tarmac, and stowed away in the cabin of a 747 bound for Britain. In 1999 the General Accounting Office found that Logan's turnover rate for airport baggage screeners was 207 percent--fourth-highest in the nation (Reagan National Airport, by contrast, reported a 47 percent turnover rate; New York's Kennedy had a 53 percent rate).

In fact, the FAA has repeatedly warned Massport management about Logan's security. But with each new revelation of a security lapse, Massport's leaders have insisted that their record was not substantially worse than that of other major American airports, and pointed defensive fingers at the airlines and the FAA. And with some justification: It's the airlines, after all, that are in charge of hiring screeners and maintaining security at their gates. And, until last week, FAA regulations actually allowed passengers to carry small knives like those the terrorists used.

But ultimately, it is Massport officials who are responsible for the overall security of the airport. Specifically, the agency controls access to most passenger-restricted areas--such as the tarmac and baggage handling areas--where many previous security failures have taken place. It's also the agency's job to keep an eye on everyone else with access to airplanes--such as mechanics, cleaners, and caterers--a highly relevant duty given that searches after the attacks found two more knives hidden on planes at Logan. And if Massport truly believed the airlines were being lax, they could have leaned on them to improve security. Instead, last February, the agency did the opposite. A memo from Executive Director Buckingham's office vowed to "measure the performance of airlines and hold them accountable for delivering basic customer services." The new requirements, many of them intended to speed up the check-in process, included a mandate that no passenger should have to wait in line for more than five minutes at a security checkpoint. Failure to comply could cost airlines gate or terminal space, Buckingham warned.

Until last week, Boston's political establishment winked indulgently at Massport's rampant patronage. State leaders--most with their own friends, relatives, and allies on the public payroll--were reluctant to cry foul. Business leaders didn't want to offend the politicians by complaining. And Boston's passengers--like passengers everywhere else in the country--were more concerned about convenience than safety. When journalists raised a fuss, they were generally dismissed as naïve goo-goos. In short, no one really considered the shortage of experienced oversight at Logan Airport to be much of a problem. Until it was too late.

MICHAEL CROWLEY is an associate editor at TNR.

Joseph Lawless Elected Chairman of AAPA Security Advisory Committee
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Port of Boston’s top cop to chair American Association of Port Authorities Security Advisory Committee.

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) announced today that Joseph Lawless, Director of Maritime and Bridge Security, was elected Chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Security Advisory Committee. The committee disseminates important safety information to public seaports.
AAPA is the principal voice of 160 deep-water ports in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The Association promotes the essential role of ports within the global transportation system and provides leadership in port operations and development and areas such as trade, transportation, and the environment.

“Joe’s vast experience in transportation and exemplary leadership will serve AAPA well,” said Mike Leone, Massport’s Port Director. “We are proud to have him serve in a national capacity that will influence port security.”

The Security Committee analyzes and disseminates crucial information regarding new tactics and technologies for port security so that facilities and cargoes are better protected against theft, vandalism, or terrorism. The committee also focuses on sensible business and operating practices, facility design security, and security personnel training and procedures. In recent years, the committee helped shape Federal policies surrounding port security.

“Safe and secure seaports are fundamental to both protecting our borders and moving goods,” said Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). “Joe Lawless has been an active and valued member of the AAPA Security Committee for many years, and brings superb credentials as a seaport security manager and law enforcement professional to his new role as chairman of this vital committee.”

Lawless has 29 years of law enforcement and security experience, including more than 13 years with the Massachusetts State Police Uniform Patrol, Criminal Investigations, and Executive Protection units. He came to Massport in 1993 overseeing all aspects of public safety and security for Aviation, Maritime, and Bridge operations. In this role he oversaw Logan Airport-based Troop F of the Massachusetts State Police. During this time, Troop F became the first law enforcement entity accredited by the International Association of Airport and Seaport Police for their commitment to excellence.

Lawless is Board-certified as a Homeland Security Specialist by the American College of Forensic Examiners, and also serves on several national and international panels that focus on security. He received his B.A. from Merrimack College located in Andover, Mass., and an M.A. from Boston University. Lawless resides in Lynnfield, Mass. with his wife Marsha and three children.

About Massport:

The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) operates Boston Logan International Airport, the Port of Boston, Tobin Memorial Bridge, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport. Massport is a financially self-sustaining public authority whose premier transportation facilities generate more than $8 billion every year and enhance and enable economic growth and vitality in New England. For more information you can visit massport.com


Crashes in NYC had grim origins at Logan

By Peter J. Howe and Matthew Brelis, Globe Staff, 9/12/2001

Long-standing concerns about the adequacy of security at Boston's Logan International Airport took on new weight yesterday after two jets that had taken off from Boston were hijacked and later crashed into the twin World Trade Center towers in New York.

By last evening, airport and law enforcement officials had offered no information about who took over the Los Angeles-bound American Airlines Flight 11 and United Air Lines Flight 175 or how, or whether, the hijackers had help from others on the ground who could have smuggled in weapons before takeoff. The flights left within the same 15-minute span as jets leaving Newark and Dulles International Airport that were also hijacked and crashed, one into the Pentagon, in a terror campaign of astonishing precision.

As the Federal Aviation Administration shut down all US air travel yesterday, Logan officials began evacuating and sealing the airport. Logan was expected to remain closed ''indefinitely.''

Last evening, Massachusetts Port Authority aviation director Thomas Kinton said whenever Logan reopens, there will probably be ''very significant'' security changes, including no more curbside luggage check-in and a ban on anyone except registered passengers passing checkpoints.

Massport security director Joseph Lawless, a longtime state trooper who was Governor William F. Weld's chauffeur in the early 1990s, said Logan tower operators received no communications from either plane that anything was amiss before contact with the planes was handed off to national air traffic control operators in Nashua and Long Island.

''Everything seemed normal when they left Logan,'' said Lawless, who said the American flight left with 92 people on board at 7:59 a.m. and the United flight with 65 people at 8:14 a.m.

Lawless would not divulge details regarding what Massport knows about who may have been able to get through Logan security and seize control of the planes, but said, ''We have a very high security standard here. We are as secure, if not more secure, than any other airport in the US.'' Nevertheless, Lawless said Logan will remain closed ''indefinitely ... until we receive some directives from the FAA.''

The American flight left from Gate 26 in Terminal B, and the United flight from Gate 19 in Terminal C. One airport employee said nothing unusual was apparent when the American flight left, and airline workers learned almost simultaneously that there had been explosions at the World Trade Center and that air traffic control had lost contact with the American flight.

A flight that left Boston for Cleveland yesterday morning was detained on arrival for a search in a secured area, according to a spokesman for Cleveland Mayor Michael White.

While Logan officials insisted they have hewed to ''high-security standards,'' in recent years safety concerns have repeatedly been raised at Logan, including by some Massport officials concerned about the reliability of low-paid private security company officials charged with inspecting baggage for weapons and keeping intruders out of secure areas.

From 1997 through early 1999, the FAA found at least 136 security violations at Logan, including easy access to parked planes and lax baggage inspections. Massport, which operates Logan, and airlines operating there were fined $178,000 for security lapses during the period.

In one spectacular security breach during the summer of 1999, a Brookline teenager was able to climb over an airport security fence, walk 2 miles across the tarmac, get through a jetway door that should have been locked, and stow away on a British Airways 747 headed to London. In April 2000, Massport said it was permanently locking 26 of about 300 doors that lead from terminal buildings onto tarmacs after a September 1999 Boston Globe investigation found that doors were frequently left open, potentially allowing terrorists access to airplanes on the ground.

Brian Sullivan, a retired FAA special agent who had been working to focus congressional and media attention on security concerns at Logan, said yesterday, ''If a determined terrorist wants to take out a target, they will get it. The question we have to ask is, `Have we done everything possible to prevent that?' and I think the answer is no.''

''Two of the planes flew out of Logan, but I don't think Logan is weaker than any other airport. The problem is systemic,'' Sullivan said. ''Morale problems are horrendous'' among FAA security staff whose job includes trying to prevent terrorists from boarding planes. ''All you need to do is look at turnover and employee satisfaction,'' Sullivan added.

Sullivan, like many other security specialists, said the weak link in aviation security is the low-paid employees hired to work at security checkpoints by private security firms that are contracted by the airlines.

A former Massport official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that for years airport officials have been concerned about ''the quality of the people hired, basically at the minimum wage, to check your bags. There were a lot of people at Massport who said this was the weak link.''

However, this official noted that it would be hard to single out Logan for blame yesterday in light of the simultaneous hijackings of flights from Newark and Dulles.

For terrorists determined to bring down the World Trade Center, Logan would be a natural target because transcontinental flights filled with jet fuel could be commandeered soon after takeoff, Massport's Kinton said.

On the issue of weapons getting into the plane, Kinton said, ''We don't know what, if anything, got through any of the three airports involved.''

Sullivan agreed that in general, ''the screeners at checkpoints are not well educated. You can't keep up with their background checks. There is high turnover and low pay. And that is our front line of security. It can't be.''

Responsibility for security at Logan is split among Massport and its State Police Troop E contingent, which oversees the airport perimeter, parking areas, and terminal space, and the airlines themselves, which hire contractors to staff the security checkpoints for passengers boarding flights and inspections of baggage being loaded into cargo holds.

Danielle Crosby, a spokeswoman for Globe Aviation Services, an East Boston-based company identified as American's security contractor in Logan's Terminal B, said the company could make ''no comment about anything because of the national security issues.''

Massport officials identified the security company that runs United's checkpoint at Logan as Huntley Security. Efforts to locate Huntley officials for comment were unsuccessful yesterday.

The 136 violations found by the FAA in the 1997-2000 monitoring came after plainclothes agents were able to board airplanes parked overnight at gates and walk into restricted areas without facing questions. People hired to operate luggage screening devices also routinely failed to detect test items such as pipe bombs and guns.

According to three sources interviewed by the Globe, a flight attendant on the American flight called back to Boston to report that flight attendants and passengers had been stabbed by a knife-wielding assailant who slit their throats - raising questions about whether a knife may have been smuggled through security or stashed ahead of time on the plane.

Cathal Flynn, the FAA's associate administrator for civil aviation security from December 1993 through October 2000, said he was ''horrified and saddened'' by the attacks. ''At the same time, I wondered how do you deal with the problem of determined, suicidal attackers,'' Flynn said.

''I worried about this sort of thing and other sorts of things constantly,'' Flynn said. ''To be involved in security is to be worried, and then to transfer that worry from something that is just debilitating to something that is conscious, systematic work to improve things. It's a tough thing to do in a free country and a system based on free enterprise.''

Flynn said any free country will always struggle to maintain security. ''Israel is a highly security-conscious place, and yet people are being killed by suicidal attackers. It is an enormously difficult problem,'' Flynn said.

In late July, the FAA announced it would seek $99,000 in civil penalties against American Airlines for a total of nine security breaches last year on six flights, including one from Logan to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

During an assessment of American's passenger pre-screening and checked baggage security on June 25, 2000, FAA special agents found that the airline had improperly transported unaccompanied bags on five flights, failed to perform a passenger ID check on two flights, and failed to ask appropriate security questions about checked bags on two flights.

The FAA did not say which violations occurred on the Boston-Chicago flight or on the other flights, which were from Washington's Ronald Reagan National to Miami International, Denver International to Dallas/Fort Worth International, San Diego International to Reno Tahoe International, San Jose International to Los Angeles International, and Lambert St. Louis International to Chicago's O'Hare.

The FAA said American took immediate corrective actions at the airports where the alleged violations were reported.

One of the more spectacular Logan security breaches occurred in July 1999 when a 17-year-old Brookline youth who hoped to impress Israeli spies cut razor wire from the top of a Logan perimeter fence, walked hundreds of yards across supposedly secured areas, then through a jetway door normally protected by a combination lock, and stowed away aboard a British Airways Boeing 747 jetliner headed to London. The youth was arrested after he arrived in England.

In the late 1990s, the FAA took steps to beef up security at Logan, including buying 600 machines to detect traces of explosives in passenger bags, but FAA investigators found many went unused, and many security staffers were never trained in how to use them.

Glen Johnson, Kimberly Blanton, and Stephanie Stoughton of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 9/12/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.