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Sept. 11: One year after

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Logan rebounds from disaster with aggressive new security measures

By Jennifer Peter, Associated Press

BOSTON The eyes of the world turned toward Logan International Airport for answers last fall as the questions multiplied about the Sept. 11 devastation at New York's World Trade Center.

How could 10 men have boarded and hijacked two passenger jets there? What security lapses -- if any -- allowed them to pass through security with box cutters? What could have been done to save the 157 passengers and crew members who last touched earth at Logan?

"Logan was the subject of international scrutiny," said former state police superintendent John DiFava, who took over security at the airport on an interim basis after the attacks. "They were really reeling."

Now, a year later, after an early series of security gaffes and a management shakeup, Logan is emerging as a national role model in its response to the attacks, which forever will be fused with its history.

Although adamant the airport was a victim of circumstance Sept. 11, Logan's new leaders have worked feverishly to test new security measures and meet federal deadlines that other airports have called unrealistic.

The new leader of the federal Transportation Security Administration said Aug. 5 that no other airport had stepped up "more strongly and more aggressively" to make security improvements.

"We feel that special place in history and want to make sure that we assume that role of leader in security," said Craig Coy, the new chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan.

Logan was the first airport in the country to win federal approval of a system to screen all baggage loaded onto planes. While many major airports argue it will be impossible to meet a Dec. 31 deadline, construction already is underway on the $100 million project in Boston.

Logan also was among the first airports to test facial recognition technology, with mixed results, and the first to give security officers hand-held computers that allow them to directly access law enforcement databases.

In early August, Logan announced it would begin a new program of identifying passengers who exhibit irregular behavior, a controversial endeavor that many aviation experts believe can be more effective than randomly screening all passengers.

"Massport has been extremely willing to make the changes necessary to make this the safest airport," said George Naccara, the transportation administration's new federal security director at Logan. "There's a sensitivity here among the leadership."

Federal and state officials now say with conviction that Logan was simply a convenient launching pad for the terror attacks, chosen for its proximity to New York and array of fuel-rich cross-country flights.

American Flight 11 and United Flight 175 took off on schedule that morning bound for Los Angeles. Within an hour, they had been taken over by terrorists and flown into New York's twin towers. Two other planes, from Washington Dulles and Newark airports, also were hijacked that day.

"They didn't break any rules getting onto the planes," said Naccara, who began overseeing Logan security in June. "The terrorists just happened to choose Boston."

In the days and weeks following the attacks, however, Logan worked frantically to improve security, bolstering law enforcement patrols and instituting random checks of baggage and cars.

Despite this, there were embarrassing lapses, with one passenger saying he was able to walk from the parking garage to his gate without passing through a metal detector or security checkpoint.

Within a month, acting Gov. Jane Swift had reassigned Massport's security leader and replaced him with DiFava, who said he found the agency in shambles. DiFava has since taken over as the head of campus security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As Swift convened a task force to review Massport's operations, the agency hired Israeli aviation consultant Rafi Ron to provide recommendations about how to improve Logan.

The federal takeover of aviation security began Feb. 17. And in August, the first of 16 security checkpoints became fully manned by federal employees.

Included in the revamped checkpoints is a special machine to screen shoes, a byproduct of the international flight that was diverted to Logan in December after a passenger allegedly tried to blow up the jet with explosives hidden in his shoes.

The reviews from Logan's frequent-flyers have been mixed.

Some argue the airport has gone too far. In an attempt to eradicate even the perception of lax security, they say, Logan has made the flying experience needlessly inconvenient.

"It's the worst," said Pete Balash, 29, of Dartmouth. "I understand they all have to do it, but there's a little more checking of bags, a little more security at the metal detectors. It becomes kind of a pain."

Barbara Miller agrees that flying through Logan is more of a hassle these days, but she said most passengers are happy to put up with it.

"You really don't mind," said Miller, 46, who travels frequently from Georgia to see her Boston-area family. "I don't mind if they take everything out of my purse in security, just as long as they don't take anything."

Looking forward, Naccara said, part of the focus will be on increasing passenger convenience while maintaining a strict level of security. One option, he said, is instituting some sort of frequent-flyer security procedure, which would provide quicker clearance to passengers who agree to submit to a rigorous background check.

Logan officials say they will try to remain at the head of the pack as the federal security deadlines approach.

"The fact that two of the airplanes left from here has rallied us all to do what we can to confront this war on terrorism," said Thomas Kinton, Massport's aviation director. "That is what's driving us."

Today's news:
Ceremony at Ground Zero
Mass. remembers victims
Silence, tears mark day at Logan
Under alert, Mass. carries on
Bush faces day with resolve
World remembers attacks in US
Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.
Updated wire coverage

Photo galleries:
Families mourn, remember
Ceremony at Ground Zero
Ceremony at the Pentagon
Ceremony at Pa. crash scene
Remembrances worldwide
Remembrances in Boston

NECN RealVideo:
Moment of silence observed
Ceremony at State House
Gettysburg Address read
Procession at Ground Zero
A somber travel day at Logan
Images of Sept. 11, 2001



Preparing for the worst
Security has become the new norm in Greater Boston.


Fear and children
Children's responses may shed light on human anxiety, resiliency.


Muslim minds
The US effort to win over Muslim hearts and minds is failing.


Science vs. terrorism
New chemical, biological threats spur nation's top minds.


For those deported after Sept. 11, the losses are wrenching.


A special Magazine issue
A Sept. 11 narrative by former Massport chief Virginia Buckingham, plus an essay by Christopher Hitchens.

A special Arts section
How culture has changed since Sept. 11, including a gallery of art inspired by the attacks.

A special Focus section
A look at how the lives of six Americans were altered.

Everywhere USA
Terrorism comes to God's country.


Where is Al Qaeda?
How have bin Laden and his terrorist group eluded US forces?


Two cities
New York and DC one year later.


America remembers
The US looks back at the terrorist attacks.

Victims and survivors
A year later, still hurting.

A time for bells and remembrance
A clash of views on terror
Limited damage to the economy
Families build support system
NYC's healing process
Finding comfort in the kitchen
Bailey: A day of atonement

From the Associated Press:
Tribute paid with tattoos
Charities changed by 9/11
White House calls home
9/11 stole innocence, love
Man escaped earthquake, 9/11
Update on 9/11's famous faces
Firemen still burying dead
A mother's note to a lost son
9/11 created heroes in death
Voice mails bring comfort
Little things hold memories
87th floor survivor copes
Sampling of 9/11 memorials
Pentagon survivors move on
Moments of silence on Sept. 11
Survivors try to move forward
Families cling to chances
Sept. 11 widow trying to forgive
Widow becomes an advocate
Workplace response varies
Graphic: Funds offer relief

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