http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56210-2003Oct20.html [This story is troubling on many levels beyond sneaking box cutters and other dangerous items onboard a "secure" aircraft. Think of all the DMCA implications if Mr. Heatwole is actually found guilty and begins to serve the prison sentence. What's the difference between an amateur like Mr. Heatwole testing airport security, or an 18 year old kid from Huntsville poking around Microsoft code or Cisco routers testing its security? Sure airport security (or security in general) isn't going to be 100 percent secure. But with all the various checkpoints, but one would have hoped that on six seperate occasions and multiple screenings, someone would have found something. On a related note, I have been doing less flying and more driving to client sites, this incident cements it for driving just about anywhere I am needed. - WK] -=- By Sara Kehaulani Goo and David Snyder Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, October 21, 2003; Page A01 The U.S. government yesterday charged a 20-year-old Maryland resident with carrying concealed weapons on an aircraft after investigators said he admitted he took box cutters and other dangerous items onto six flights in a scheme to prove that weaknesses remain in the nation's air security system. Nathaniel Travis Heatwole of Damascus told investigators that he was able to take the items through security checkpoints in his carry-on bag and on his body on six occasions at Raleigh-Durham International and Baltimore-Washington International airports this year without being stopped by security screeners, according to an FBI affidavit filed in court yesterday. The affidavit was filed with the U.S. District Court in Baltimore by federal prosecutors. It details the information Heatwole provided in an interview with FBI agents. Heatwole, a college student, allegedly told investigators he stashed the items aboard four planes and then left a paper trail for authorities, through notes left with the items and in an e-mail to security officials, which they used to identify him. He said he believed his actions were "an act of civil disobedience with the aim of improving public safety for the air-traveling public," according to the affidavit. Heatwole, appearing in court yesterday to hear the charges against him, was not offered an opportunity to enter a plea, and his attorney declined to comment on the case. If found guilty, Heatwole could face up to 10 years in federal prison. The discovery of the box cutters, matches, bleach and simulated explosives aboard commercial aircraft last week sparked a national debate and a congressional inquiry into the quality of the nation's air security system since the government took over screening at airport checkpoints in February 2002. The Transportation Security Administration was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which terrorists are believed to have used box cutters to commandeer four commercial aircraft. The TSA has said that it has confiscated more than 8 million dangerous items at the nation's airports, but the items in Heatwole's bags demonstrated that the system can be penetrated. When asked how a college student was able to pass through security at two airports with prohibited items, apparently easily and on several occasions, TSA Deputy Administrator Steven McHale acknowledged the security system's imperfections. "We do not expect ever to have 100 percent screening at the checkpoints," McHale said, pointing out the multiple "layers" of security beyond the checkpoint, such as reinforced cockpit doors and undercover air marshals. "Amateur testing like this does not in any way assist us or show us where we have flaws in our system." The TSA said that it is conducting an internal review to determine how the dangerous items got on the planes and that it will change how its contact center responds to messages from the public. "TSA will require contact center staff to flag messages that discuss illegal activity even if it does not contain threatening information, as in this case," said Yolanda Clark, spokeswoman for the agency. Thomas M. DiBiagio, U.S. attorney for Maryland, called the actions that Heatwole is charged with "dangerous." "This is a very serious case," DiBiagio said. "This was not a prank. This was not poor judgment. This was a crime. This was a very foolish and dangerous act." Appearing in court yesterday, cleanshaven and wearing khaki pants and a collared short-sleeve shirt, Heatwole readily participated in the proceedings, answering "Yes, your honor" several times. His parents, who were in the courtroom, declined to comment on the case. According to the affidavit, Heatwole carried weapons on flights while traveling between his residences in Montgomery County, where he lives with his parents, and Greensboro, N.C., where he attends Guilford College. He allegedly carried dangerous items aboard six flights from February to September and left items on four planes. It took a repairman working on a clogged airplane lavatory to launch a federal investigation. Last Thursday in New Orleans, a Southwest Airlines mechanic discovered three zipped plastic bags and an anonymous note. The bags, hidden behind a panel near the toilet, were filled with three box cutters, a small container of bleach, a claylike substance and strike-anywhere matches. The note said the items had been taken through security at the Raleigh-Durham airport on Sept. 12 and noted the flight number. The note was signed "3891925." A few hours after the discovery in New Orleans, a Southwest Airlines repairman in Houston came across a similar package containing the same items. It also contained a note, which said the items had been taken through security at BWI on Sept. 14, and mentioned the flight number. It was signed, "Sincerely, 3891925." Investigators later learned that the signature was Heatwole's birthday, May 29, 1983, written backward. Southwest notified the TSA, and overnight the agency, the airline and the FBI decided to search the airline's entire 385-plane fleet. The next day, the TSA ordered every airline to search every commercial aircraft -- more than 6,500 planes. DiBiagio said two other packages with dangerous items were recovered on Southwest planes in April, in Tampa and Raleigh-Durham, but he did not elaborate on how they were found. On Friday, the TSA searched a database of e-mails it had received from the public and found an indication of who might be responsible for the packages. In a message received on Sept. 15 with a subject line saying "Information Regarding 6 Recent Security Breaches," the writer said he had smuggled several items onto planes and referred to the notes he had left behind. "The e-mail author also stated that he was aware that his actions were against the law and that he was aware of the potential consequences for his actions," according to the FBI affidavit. The writer of the e-mail, which was signed, "Sincerely, Nat Heatwole," said his actions were "an act of civil disobedience with the aim of improving public safety for the air-traveling public." The e-mail also provided a telephone number. Authorities quickly contacted Heatwole, who was interviewed by FBI investigators at his home in Damascus on Friday with his mother present. Several attempts to interview his parents for this article were unsuccessful. Heatwole was not taken into custody after his court appearance, through an agreement between his lawyer and the U.S. attorney. As a condition of not being held, he agreed yesterday not to set foot in an airport or board a flight until after his next court appearance on Nov. 10. According to people who know him, Heatwole, a junior majoring in physics and political science, was not afraid to speak out about his political beliefs. In an article about Heatwole published in the Guilford College newspaper during his freshman year, he explained why he did not register for Selective Service, as required by U.S. law, when he turned 18. He returned his draft card unsigned, he said. "I wanted to let them hear the voice of dissent," he told the newspaper, "just in case they were listening." The article cited "his belief in non-violence" and reported that he considered the punishment for not registering before he decided to take that action. "It's the five years in jail that's the big one," the Guilfordian quoted Heatwole as saying. Heatwole graduated from John T. Baker Middle School in 1997 and from Damascus High School in 2001, said Kate Harrison, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County school system. Damascus High, which serves a large swath of rural northern Montgomery, has about 1,900 students. At Guilford, a 2,100-student college founded by Quakers in 1837, Heatwole is one of about 35 Dana Scholars, recipients of the school's top academic scholarship for returning students. He was described by a professor yesterday as "a deeply committed person of integrity." The professor, Max Carter, who teaches Quaker studies and serves as director of the Friends Center, said he has had many conversations with Heatwole, including some about Quaker philosophy. "He was asking questions about conscientious objectors. We had discussions about pacifism," Carter said. Heatwole had a two-hour rock-and-roll program on the college radio station, according to the station manager. He was also an avid ham-radio enthusiast, and he and his father, Antony, are members of the Potomac Valley Radio Club. Students at Guilford and neighbors in Damascus describe him as intelligent and well spoken but quiet. He acted older than he was, acquaintances said. Neighbors in Damascus and at Guilford described him and his family as inscrutable. Brad Stohr, a freshman who lives two dorm rooms down the hall from Heatwole, said: "I rarely saw him leave the room. . . . He was always on his computer. He seemed like a nice kid." The Heatwoles moved into a two-story farmhouse in Damascus four years ago from Gaithersburg, property records show, but the family made little mark on the neighborhood, neighbors said. They erected a radio tower nearby. The garden always seemed well tended, neighbors said. The Heatwoles have two dogs. The family mentioned Quakerism once or twice, neighbors said, but didn't seem preoccupied with their faith. Neighbors said Antony Heatwole, his wife, Janet, and Nathaniel's younger sister, Mandy, lived in the house year-round. Nathaniel, who neighbors said was known as Nat, came home during the summer. "For having two teenage kids, that house was amazingly quiet," one neighbor said. "No parties, nothing." In Greensboro, students returned from fall break yesterday to the sight of TV satellite trucks and reporters waiting to ask them for insights into Heatwole. "Everyone is talking about it, everyone is trying to figure out what's going on," said Ryan Taylor, a senior. Staff writers Allan Lengel, Katherine Shaver and Bill Broadway and researcher Carmen Chapin contributed to this report. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomo@private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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