Cablegate: Update On Civair Security

Published: Wed 31 Dec 2003 02:46 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Update on Civair Security
Ref: (A) State 348468 (B) State 348269
(C) Ankara 7597
1. (SBU) Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
officials told us that they had not yet examined TSA's
emergency amendments which could require armed law
enforcement officers to be posted on certain flights,
and pointed out the risks of posting such officers
without adequate training. They advised that they would
consult with their counterparts at the Turkish National
Police as to what actions Turkey would take in this
area. They also provided information on cargo carriers
and said they supported a return to instituting border
and customs controls at the first port of entry. End
2. (SBU) Econoff and Econ Specialist met with Topa
Toker, head of the Directorate General for Civil
Aviation (DGCA) and other DGCA officials on December 31
to discuss aviation security issues, including the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security's (DHS') recent
emergency aviation amendments, new procedures for all-
cargo carriers and a gap in immigration and customs
controls at Turkish airports.
Reaction to DHS Aviation Emergency Amendments
3. (SBU) On December 29, the Embassy faxed to DGCA a
copy of DHS' December 28 amendments (ref A) which would
require carriers to provide an armed government law
enforcement officer on flights specified by the U.S.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or to
cancel the flight if no such officer could be deployed.
Toker and his staff had not examined the amendment prior
to the meeting, but said he would review this carefully,
discuss it with the Turkish National Police (TNP) and
advise us as to what actions Turkey would take. Oktay
Erdagi, DGCA's Head of Department for Security, pointed
out the risks of introducing weapons to aircraft,
particularly if the law enforcement officers posted did
not have specialized training. He said TNP planned to
train officers to serve as air marshals, but the police
were still in the process of selecting officers for the
training. However, he said that, in an emergency,
Turkish authorities could put a law enforcement officer
on board an aircraft if required by TSA.
4. (SBU) Erdagi said that Turkish Airlines (THY) had
taken extra security measures on international flights,
including deployment of an extra unarmed steward to help
protect access to the pilots' cabin and strengthening
cockpit doors.
All-Cargo Security Procedures
5. (SBU) Econoff noted that TSA had recently issued All-
Cargo International Security Procedures and advance
vetting requirements for crewmembers (ref B), and was
attempting to inform all cargo airlines directly.
Econoff asked for a list of all-cargo carriers with
routes to or from the United States or overflying U.S.
territory. Topa Toker responded that THY is the only
cargo carrier with direct flights to the U.S., with
cargo taken on its passenger flights. MNG, a private
carrier, runs cargo flights, but not directly to the
United States from Turkey. Oktay Erdagi said he would
pass on information from U.S. authorities to the
relevant carriers.
Gap in Immigration/Customs Control
6. (SBU) Econoff raised an apparent loophole which could
allow international passengers to avoid passing through
border and customs controls in some airports (ref C).
In Ankara, airline staff direct international arrivals
connecting through Istanbul to a bus taking them to a
terminal with border and customs controls, and domestic
passengers to another terminal without those controls.
However, staff do not always check to ensure that
arriving passengers board the correct bus.
7. (SBU) Toker acknowledged that the existing system
could be strengthened by adding staff to check boarding
cards at the plane and at the entry to the domestic
terminal. However, he and the TNP would prefer to
rectify the problem by requiring passengers to clear
customs and border control at the initial point of entry
to Turkey. Toker said he would recommend this at a
January meeting of the National Civil Aviation Security
Chainsaw on a Domestic Flight
8. (U) Econoff also raised press reports that a
passenger on the December 20 Istanbul - Bodrum flight
had taken a chainsaw on board the aircraft. Toker said
that the press had exaggerated the story and that the
incident had not been a safety risk. The passenger had
brought a chainsaw motor (without the chain) and its
empty fuel tank on board. Because the tank had been
emptied just before the flight, other passengers had
smelled gasoline and this prompted the media's interest.
Erdagi acknowledged that it would be worthwhile for DGCA
to review procedures for screening for potentially
hazardous materials.
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