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Senate aviation security inquiry November 2016

The current senate aviation security inquiry has some very important issues raised by a range of people.

Some of these go to the heart of aviation security and the issues raised by aviators over the ASIC system and it’s management.

Senate questioning of Mr. Kessing

Transcript of proceedings

Mr Kessing said passenger screening terminals were only effective at deterring lone wolf terrorists.

  • The Australian 


Reporter Sydney @Mitch_Hell

Allan Kessing, a former Customs officer convicted of leaking reports about serious security flaws at Sydney airport, has described passenger screening terminals as a useless facade and said more resources must be poured into intelligence gathering to stop terrorists from launching attacks.

Mr Kessing wrote two damning reports on Sydney airport security in 2003 that dealt with a range of security concerns including alleged illegal activity by baggage handlers and surveillance “black holes”.

In 2007 he was convicted of breaching Section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act after the courts found he leaked the long-ignored reports to this newspaper that revealed criminality and security flaws at Sydney Airport.

The exposure of those reports triggered a far-reaching probe into airport security, the Wheeler report, which prompted the Federal Government to spend $200 million establishing airport police commands and boosting Customs surveillance.

But fronting a Senate committee investigating airport and aviation security in Canberra last night, Mr Kessing said that despite those upgrades many security protocols in place at today’s airports were ineffective at stopping terrorist attacks from occurring.

Whistleblower Allan Kessing.

Whistleblower Allan Kessing.

Mr Kessing, who worked as a Customs intelligence officer for 15 years, singled out passenger screening terminals as being an ineffective “facade”.

“Passenger screening as we know it is about doing something but it is not effective, and in fact I think it is deleterious,” he said.

Mr Kessing pointed to the examples of the so-called Shoe Bomber and Underwear Bomber.

Richard Reid, also known as the Shoe Bomber, evaded security checkpoints at airports and attempted to detonate explosives packed into his shoes while on board an American Airlines flight in 2001.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, known as the Underwear Bomber, attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a Northwest Airlines Flight in 2009

“Both of them were not detected and yet because they were failures (in security) is why we have to go through these screening procedures,” Mr Kessing said.

“I would not feel safe without passenger screening but (it’s there) only as a facade.”

Mr Kessing said passenger screening terminals were only effective at deterring lone wolf terrorists who did not possess the means to bypass security and who had been kicked out of criminal and terrorist organisations for being “loose cannons”.

“However I would advocate that real resources be put into intelligence gathering … to ensure the real terrorists are caught before they have breakfast and leave home,” he said.

Mr Kessing took the opportunity of the Senate committee hearing to again protest his innocence in the leaking of the Sydney Airport security reports, saying that despite being charged, he was not the whistleblower.

“I was not (the person who leaked the reports),” he said.

Mr Kessing also said he was “very much” annoyed at being characterised as a whistleblower.

When asked who could have leaked the report, Mr Kessing said drafts were available to people in his covert Customs unit as well as other officers in intelligence organisations.

“The only person who had access to full draft was my senior officer but other members of our team also had access to select sections,” he said.

Mr Kessing was given a suspended jail sentence of nine months when he was convicted of the leaks in 2007.

Despite his protestations of innocence, the Federal Government has rejected a pardon application from Mr Kessing.

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