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National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

Interview of Joseph M. Lawless, November 5, 2003

Opening Statement
My name is Joseph M. Lawless, and I am the former Director of

Public Safety for the Massport Authority. During my eight-year tenure in

that position, I oversaw Massport security issues at Logan International

Airport, Hanscom Field, Worcester Regional Airport, the Boston Seaport,

the Tobin Bridge and all other Massport properties. Since October 2001,1

have been serving as the Director of Maritime and Bridge Security for

Massport operations in and around Boston Harbor, the Boston Seaport and

the Tobin Bridge. I have had no authority over aviation matters since that


At the outset, the record should be clear that, under my leadership,

and with the assistance of a dedicated and professional staff at Massport and

the Massachusetts State Police, Logan Airport was one of the most secure

Category X airports in the country. The FAA certified Logan's airport

security plan each year during my eight-year tenure. The Massport

Department of Public Safety regularly received federal and state grant

money because it was among the best in the nation. The FAA and other

federal agencies (including NTSB), and aviation industry groups routinely

cited Logan and the Massport Security operations as examples for other

airport operators from around the country. During my tenure as Massport's

Director of Public Safety, Massport had one of the best and most innovative

security programs in the country. (Tab 1). I was commended in my annual

performance evaluations at Massport for establishing "cutting edge

standards" and for my strong leadership in promoting safety and security

concerns at Massport.

Prior to assuming my position as Director of Public Safety at

Massport, I served for thirteen years with the Massachusetts State Police.

For six of those years, I worked as a field officer, conducting investigations

and operating as a liaison between State Police field operations and State

Police Detectives. I also spent approximately five years as an investigator

for the Bureau of Investigative Services in the Middlesex County District

Attorney's Office. During my tenure in Middlesex County, I participated in

the investigation of more than 100 homicide cases, including several high-

profile homicide cases under Thomas Reilly—now the Massachusetts

Attorney General. I also investigated numerous complex criminal offenses

involving white-collar crime, drug trafficking and various organized crime

operations. Lreceived extensive training in leadership and investigation

_ir techniques from the FBI.

In 1991, the Superintendent of the State Police assigned me to

establish and direct the Executive Protection Unit for the Governor and the

Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In that

position, I was responsible for the planning and oversight of security issues

for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and visiting dignitaries, including

several Presidents of the United States. I supervised security measures in

cooperation with the Secret Service during visits of President George H.W.

Bush, President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton,

as well as visits by numerous foreign dignitaries. In connection with this

position, I received training from and worked directly with the United States

Secret Service, the State Department, the Federal Aviation Administration,

and other divisions of the federal government. During my tenure in the

Executive Protection Unit, the unit successfully defended the Massachusetts

Executive branch of government from several serious security threats—

including several specific threats from radical, pro-life activists. I am

particularly proud of the fact that during my tenure at the Executive

Protection Unit there were no breaches of security in the unit's protection of

these leaders.

In September 1993,1 was recruited by the Executive Director of

Massport to become its Director of Public Safety. Shortly after taking this
post, I determined that the deterrence, detection and elimination of terrorist

threats would be the fundamental focus of my mission at Massport. Among

my first official actions was to confer with the ATLAS consulting firm,

which was operated by a group of leading anti-terrorism experts, to conduct

a comprehensive security assessment of Logan Airport. (Tab 2). That

assessment was the first of many steps taken to improve security at Logan

during my tenure.

It should be noted that the ATLAS assessment indicated that

"terrorists events, similar to the [1993] World Trade Center bombing will be

carried out in increasing numbers throughout the United States." The report

stated that "airports and civil aviation are going to face increasing number of

terrorist attacks directed towards mass destruction and casualties." The

report concluded that Logan must "start the process of upgrading

systematically [its] security readiness and prevention capabilities." These

prophetic words made a distinct impression on me at the time, and

throughout my career at Massport. Indeed, the ATLAS report only

reconfirmed my view that anti-terrorism measures should be the central

focus of my work.

After receiving the ATLAS report, the Department of Public Safety

implemented a variety of changes at Logan, including the following:

Controls on the distribution of airport security identification

passes were tightened;

The State Police assigned to Logan received training in anti-

terrorism methods, along with new equipment; and

The level of restricted area access for airport employees was

tightened to operational necessity.

In January 1994, in an effort to strengthen my expertise regarding

anti-terrorist security measures, I traveled to Ben Gurion International

Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel in order to study security techniques and tactics at

that airport, which was unquestionably the model of state-of-the-art security.

While there, I met with the Director of Israeli National Police force, the

Director of Security for the airport and the Director of Security for El Al

Airlines. I also was able to observe the impressive coordination of the

various security entities and personnel that were responsible for protecting

Ben Gurion. Upon returning from Israel, I sought to implement many of

those same security practices.

In April 1994,1 was contacted by the FBI Boston field office about a

Massport employee working as an interpreter in the airport who was

allegedly a member of the terrorist organization Hezbollah. After that

employee was terminated, I contacted ATLAS to review Massport's hiring

practices. (Tab 3). The results of ATLAS' assessment caused me to initiate

steps designed to revamp Massport background checks, to increase

coordination with the FBI and to institute strict guidelines for the hiring of

all interpreters working in the Logan international terminal. In November

1994,1 coordinated and oversaw a multi-agency hijacking exercise at Logan

Airport that involved the FBI, the FAA, the State Police and Massport. Also

in 1994, Massachusetts State Police Troop F (the State Police Troop

assigned to Massport) obtained accreditation from the International

Association of Airport and Seaport Police (IAASP), making Troop F the

first police force in the world to obtain such accreditation by passing

rigorous state-of-the-art standards issued by a world-class security

organization. (Tab 4).

In early 1995, as a result of my relationship with INTERPOL, I was

invited to attend a debriefing conducted by the French government about an

Air France hijacking by radical Islamic terrorists who sought to crash an

airliner into the Eiffel Tower. (Tab 5). The French security forces had

successfully thwarted that effort by storming the hijacked plane in

Marseilles where it had stopped for refueling. During my trip to Paris, I met

with security officials at Charles DeGaulle Airport to review and discuss

their security and anti-terrorism procedures and tactics.

In 1996, with the assistance of my dedicated Public Safety staff, I

developed the Logan Airport Security Enhancement Review (LASER)

Program, a multi-faceted program designed to address and respond to the

increased terrorist threat to Logan. (Tab 6). The LASER Program became

one of the leading anti-terrorism airport security programs in the United

States, and it has been the recipient of a major grant from the Edward Byrne

Criminal Justice Program. Among other activities, the LASER Program

created teams of uniformed and undercover officers who regularly tested the

effectiveness of Massport airport security systems. These undercover teams

conducted face-to-face security identification checks with thousands of

airport employees. The LASER program also paid for new explosive

detection technology at Logan, and implemented a comprehensive training

program designed to prepare Massport employees to respond to threats

presented by weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including biological

hazards. In connection with the LASER Program, I developed a protocol

designed to train the firefighters and State Police at Logan to respond to a

potential anthrax threat. (Tab 7) In connection with that protocol, Logan

security teams have trained with teams from the U.S. Department of Defense

in order to.ensure ihat any biological threat is dealt with expeditiously. As a

result—uidike^nany other major-airports in this county—Logan was (and is

today) extraordinarily well-prepared to respond to a potential biological


As a result of the development and successful implementation of the

LASER program, Massport's stature as a leader in the United States

increased steadily over the years. Logan Airport was routinely cited as a

model for other Category X Airports around the country, and Massport

representatives were regularly asked to provide information and give

lectures to members of the airport security community. As recently as

August 2001,1 was asked to make a presentation on airport security at the

Airport Security Summit in San Francisco, California. (Tab 8).

In January 1997, Massport Director of Aviation Thomas Kinton and I

were invited by Vice President Albert Gore to participate in a meeting

regarding airport security issues prior to the release of the Gore Commission

Report. (Tab 9). After that report was issued, the Department of Public

Safety took a pro-active stance at Massport to address and implement the

Commission's various recommendations at Logan. These efforts included:

an expansion of the LASER program to include the

development of WMD protocols and joint drills with the

. . National Guard;

£ - -, • .- expansion of the K-9 explosive detection unit; , -r

the development and implementation of the first in the nation

family assistance program, which became a national model

used by the NTSB;

implementation of stringent background checks including an

expanded fingerprinting program;

participation as one of five select airport representatives in a

FAA-sponsored technology evaluation/airport vulnerability

assessment planning program in Virginia in July 1999.

Each of these initiatives were successfully implemented during my tenure as

the Director of Public Safety at Massport.

In August 1997, the Department of Public Safety formed a Public

Safety Emergency Committee at Massport that included representatives

from all public safety and operational units. The mission of that Committee

was to perform a needs analysis on emergency consequence management.

The efforts of this committee included the creation of a new emergency

operations center at Massport Fire/Rescue headquarters and substantial

revisions to the airport emergency plan.

A significant portion of my job responsibilities as Massport's Director

of Public Safety was devoted to the review and implementation of

appropriate security measures in connection with Logan Airport's ongoing

construction projects - including the construction of a new international

terminal. In connection with these projects, my staff regularly commented

on design documents and made recommendations to incoiporate security

technology into that new construction. In August 1995, Massport contracted

Weidelinger Associates to conduct an explosion structure vulnerability

assessment of the Logan control tower and the passenger terminals. My

department's efforts also included a recommendation in 1998 that the new

terminal adopt the 100 % baggage screening standard that had been adopted

in the United Kingdom. (Tab 10).

During my tenure as Massport's Director of Public Safety, I was a

member of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network (ALEAN), the

American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), and the Airport

Council International (ACI)—North America Public Safety and Security

Steering Committee. As a member of the ACI Security Steering Committee

I reviewed and provided comments to the FAA's proposed revisions to Part

107 of its regulations. I also served as one of three U.S. representatives on

the ACI World Security Committee, which addresses worldwide issues

relating to airport security. I was also one of three airport representatives on

the FAA's Security Equipment Integrated Product Team (SEIPT), a

committee established to oversee the implementation of new security


technology at our nation's airports. Through that position, I was able to

increase significantly Logan Airport's access to new Explosive Detection

System (EDS) screening technology. I have also served as a guest lecturer

on airport safety and security topics for the Airport Security Summit, the

National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), the International

Association of Airport and Seaport Police, and an AAAE European

Workshop on Airfield Safety. (Tab 11).

Another critical component of my mission at Massport was to

improve the training of all airport employees (including both Massport

employees and airline personnel) regarding security awareness and public

safety matters and procedures. To that end, beginning in late 1999 and early

2000, the Department of Public Safety initiated a multi-phased training

program that involved the airlines, FAA, U.S. Customs and Massport

personnel. (Tab 12).

My department also took an aggressive stance in connection with the

badging and identification process for all airport personnel—including the

badging process for the security personnel hired by the various airlines to

manage the passenger checkpoints. Among other things, I insisted upon

criminal background checks that far exceeded the minimal standards

established by Lthe FAA. Indeed, in May 2001, the FAA asked me to limit

the scope of the background checks performed by my office on airline

employees and baggage and passenger screeners. (Tab 13). Despite the

FAA's objections and numerous objections from the various airlines, I

continued to insist on these more expansive background checks in order to

enhance the safety of the traveling public at Logan. (Tab 14).

In April 2001, Massport was contacted by the FOX-TV local news

outlet regarding an undercover operation that they had conducted regarding

the passenger screening checkpoints operated by the airlines at Logan

Airport. During this operation, FOX personnel were able to smuggle

weapons and other contraband through the checkpoints without detection by

airline security personnel who were staffing the checkpoints. As a result of

this information, I worked with the Massachusetts State Police to design a

security checkpoint testing protocol that would use undercover police

officers to test the proficiency and systems of the airline security

checkpoints. In June 2001,1 met with airline representatives and showed

them the FOX report. I also explained the undercover security checkpoint

testing protocol that we had developed and intended to implement. The

testing protocol was met with substantial resistance from the airlines and the

FAA. Despite these protestations, I intended to start the testing program in

'July 2001. (Tab 17). However, after Massport's senior staff was briefed, on

the program and the objections from the airlines and the FAA, I was ordered

not to proceed with the testing program at that time.

In late 1999 and 2000,1 became increasingly concerned about the

growing threat of global terrorism and the increased risk of a terrorist attack

at Logan. During that period, the FAA had heightened security levels at

U.S. airports. There were also increased concerns about terrorist threats

relating to the millennium—including a plot targeting Los Angeles

International Airport. And, in October 2000, the U.S.S. Cole was bombed in

Yemin. The Cole bombing allegedly involved an individual who had

previously worked as a cab driver in Boston. In March of 2001,1 attended

an FAA classified intelligence briefing in Washington, DC. Shortly after

that briefing, I reviewed the February 2001 testimony of CIA Director

George Tenet, in which Tenet emphasized the "immediate and serious

threat" posed by increased terrorist threat to US interests. (Tab 15)

During this same period, several incidents at Logan increased my

concerns about the safety and security of the airport. In July 1999, a teenage

boy boarded a British Airways flight from Logan as a stowaway and flew to

Heathrow Airport, where he was apprehended. In early 2000, a man

climbed the airport perimeter fence and gained access to the airport fuel

farm, which is located in the air operations area, • And;;on two separate

occasions in 2000, individuals circumvented the security checkpoints

operated by the airlines at Logan—requiring the affected concourses to be

evacuated. Finally, in October 2000, Moshe Levy, a New Jersey-based

security expert accompanied me on a tour of Logan Airport and identified a

series of potential security weaknesses. These incidents, coupled with my

awareness of increased terrorist activity worldwide and in the metropolitan

Boston area, increased my concern about the risk of a terrorist attack at


Also in April 2001,1 articulated my heightened concerns regarding

Logan's vulnerabilities in a memorandum to Virginia Buckingham, the then-

Executive Director of Massport. (Tab 16). In that memorandum, I

addressed my concerns regarding a variety of critical security-related issues

confronting Massport at that time, including: (1) the inconsistent perimeter

security around the air operations area, including the need for closed-circuit

television (CCTV) monitoring, (2) the inconsistent access control systems in

place in various locations throughout the airport, (3) the need for stepped-up

anti-terrorism training programs and technology, (4) the need for improved

identification and control procedures for all airport employees and tenants,

(5) the inconsistent and unreliable performance of screeners working at the

airline-operated passenger screening points, as well as the need for new and

improved baggage screening technology, (6) inconsistent emergency

response procedures relating to the E-911 procedures, and (7) improvements

required to minimize potential workplace violence.

In 2001, Massport contracted with Counter Technologies Incorporated

(CTI) to conduct another comprehensive security assessment of Massport

facilities. That review was in process when the events of September 11,

2001 occurred. In November 2001, CTI issued the first draft of its

assessment. (Tab 19) Notably, in that draft, CTI concluded that "[a] major

challenge facing Massport and [Logan] will be the understanding of why no

action has apparently occurred on the many previous safety and security

recommendations submitted from multiple sources, including its own

Department of Public Safety." The report noted that, "[although extremely

limited in . . . critical resources . . . the Massport Public Safety Department

has worked exceedingly well at keeping its security program efficient and

compliant with all applicable laws, rules and regulations despite the hurdles

presented to them."

During the period that I served as the Director of Public Safety at

Massport, my department was constantly confronted with the challenge of

enhancing the safety and security of the airport with a limited budget. Many

of the pmblicPsafety initiatives that were proposed during my tenure were -

approved by Massport. Others were not funded or approved or, in some

instances, were only partially funded or deferred well into the future. (Tab

18). During this entire period, the Massport Public Safety Department

functioned in an extraordinary fashion during that period and was able to

maintain a safe and secure environment for travelers at Logan.

During my tenure at Massport, my staff and I consistently developed

strategies to keep Logan Airport on the cutting edge of aviation security.

While Massport made great progress in enhancing security at Logan during

my tenure, there were many security initiatives that were affected not only

by the significant limitations that were placed upon Massport by the federal

regulations governing all United States airports, but also by Massport's own

priorities. Indeed, I concur with the conclusion in the December 2001

Report the Special Advisory Task Force on Massport that "in recent years

Massport's mission has centered on customer satisfaction, economic

expansion and development" and that "there is a need for substantially

increased attention to security matters." As we look to the future, in what

admittedly is a changed environment for security issues concerning our

nation's airports, it is my hope that there will be a continued emphasis on

security issues on the national and local level in order to ensure that the

public traveling through Logan can have confidence that everything possible

is being done to guarantee their safety and security.