By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
June 20, 2007
Homeland Security officials are being warned not to toss secret
documents that could compromise transportation security into the
ordinary trash after hundreds of such papers marked "sensitive"
reportedly were found in a city trash container near the Orlando
International Airport in Florida.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) used its most recent
newsletter to tell employees not to throw away outdated materials
stamped as "Sensitive Security Information" (SSI).
"There have been recent news stories about a young person who went
Dumpster diving near a major airport and found an airport binder that
contained documents marked as [SSI]", the newsletter said.
Employees are told to shred SSI documents in cross-cutting shredders,
cut them manually into squares that measure no less than a half-inch or
place them in trash bins specifically designated for SSI disposal.
"When in doubt do not throw it out. If you are unsure whether a document
contains SSI, err on the side of caution and use one of the disposal
methods described above," the newsletter said.
A TSA spokeswoman called the item a reminder to employees of how to
adhere to existing policy not a change in policy.
Robert Raffel, the airport's senior director of public safety, resigned
to take a teaching job at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the
wake of the investigation by the Orlando Police Department. Mr. Raffel
told the Orlando Sentinel, which broke the story in March, that his
resignation was not related to the investigation.
"This person"s mother turned the documents over to the local newspaper
not the airport or TSA. Although the dumped material was marked SSI, a
review by the SSI Office determined that the material did not contain
SSI," the newsletter said.
In early March, the unnamed teenager found "three-ring binders and an
11-inch-by-17-inch airport layout plan set in a trash dumpster,"
according to an Orlando Police Department report, filed by Detective Jay
"The documents, part of an Orlando International Airport 20-year-growth
master plan, were labeled 'Sensitive Security Information that should
not be released without a need to know,' " the report said.
"A former deputy director of the State Department's counterterrorism
office called the master plan update an excellent document for
terrorists planning an attack," the report said.
The Orlando police investigation revealed that two out of 40 master
plans issued were missing from storage, an engineering specialist was
missing a copy from her set, and Mr. Raffel did not have his set.
The investigation did not conclude whether the teenager indeed found the
binders in the trash container or to whom the set belonged. A federal
aviation security official said the document could contain checkpoint
locations and new gate configurations, bag-screening locations, guard
posts, fence lines and access points to secure or sterile areas all of
which are considered SSI.
Mr. Raffel told Mr. Mack that officials "overreacted" by stamping the
document "SSI," although the engineering official kept her copies under
lock and key.
"They were stamping everything [SSI]," the report said.
Mr. Raffel said he may have left behind the set of documents when he
moved offices last year but maintains he did not throw the documents
into the trash.
Mr. Raffel could not be reached for comment, but he told the Orlando
Sentinel that he had been considering a career in academia after
completing 32 years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
"We appreciate his contribution both to our country in his military duty
and the aviation industry," said Chris Schmidt, airport deputy executive
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