An airline pilot who said he was punished by the with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for posting a video on YouTube showing flaws in airport security revealed his identity on Monday.
Fifty-year old Chris Liu, who had gone by the pseudonym "The Patriot Pilot" and was deputized by the TSA, lost his federally-issued gun and badge after posting cell phone videos on YouTube critical of San Francisco International Airport security.
In a letter to Liu, the TSA claimed that he had been suspended from the Federal Flight Deck Officer program for violating regulations concerning disclosure of sensitive security information and for causing the loss of public confidence in the TSA. The program was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and allows certain pilots to carry handguns.
Liu believes that his suspension from the Federal Flight Deck Officer program was a retaliation against him for exposing a significant security flaw. He wrote on his website that his "experience with the Transportation Safety Administration has been anything but positive."
"Clearly, from the world-wide response my story has received, I have really made people at the TSA angry," he wrote. "I am sorry about that, as it was never my intent to piss people off. I only wanted to make aviation safer by pointing out what I though was a major security problem that was not getting properly addressed by the TSA, while the rest of us were getting screened, scanned, groped, x-rayed and generally treated pretty poorly; all at a cost of billions and billions of dollars."
Liu said he wanted to remain anonymous because he feared retaliation against himself or his airline, but decided to reveal his identity so that he can become actively involved in the issue of airport security.
A major problem with airport security is that ground crews can access the airport tarmac and any aircraft without having to be screened by security. The next major attack may not occur in the cabin of an aircraft, but on the tarmac of an airport, Liu warned.
"The doors, gates and other access points where they can access the tarmac are not being manned by TSA and certainly do not have the same metal detectors, body scanners, x-ray equipment, dogs or other security measures that the rest of us are all too painfully forced to undergo," he wrote on his website. "This has, unfortunately, lead to a total lack of security."