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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Three Men Escape Notice on JFK Airport Runway

Aired August 12, 2003 - 19:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Airplane and airport security have of course undergone major changes since the 9/11 attacks. But today, a reminder that no system is totally secure.
At New York's Kennedy International Airport, three people were able to wander along an active runway for about a mile. Police were unaware security had been breached until the three came into a police building to tell the authorities about what they'd been doing.

Jason Carroll picks up the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One law enforcement official calls what happened at JFK Airport Sunday night unacceptable and of great concern.

Three boaters got caught in rough water and washed ashore on airport property. For an hour, they wandered across one mile of JFK, past a runway where taxiing jets were just several hundred feet away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got there by accident. But it wouldn't be hard for somebody who wanted to intentionally be there to get there.

CARROLL: The Port Authority, responsible for airport security, denied a request to speak on camera but gave a statement saying, "They certainly should not have been able to do what they have done. Clearly our work is not complete."

New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, downplayed the incident.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: They were hardly terrorists and what happened right away was the authority saw them. And that should give you comfort, that if there were people trying to come and come to a runway and do some damage, that the police were on top of it right away.

CARROLL: Not exactly. The Port Authority said the three were not detected until the boaters found one of the airport police stations and told officers what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For somebody who was up to no good they could have caused a lot of damage.

CARROLL: There are many questions about why no one spotted the three on airport property and how they were able to wash ashore undetected. Port Authority would not give specifics about what security is in place, but a spokesman did say half a billion dollars has been allocated over the next five years to reinforce security and as a result of what happened the agency said it has improved patrols along the airport's perimeter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And the Port Authority says it's responsible for a ten- mile perimeter surrounding the airport, and while they acknowledge more security measures still need to be put into place, they say it will not be as simple as erecting some sort of a fence -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jason Carroll, thanks very much tonight.

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