Comedy Of Errors: Cameras Didn’t Work At Newark Airport


newark-airportIt’s a tale of shocking ineptitude: CBS 2 has learned a series of missteps unnecessarily added to the mayhem at Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday. The six-hour delay stranded thousands of people, creating extreme crowding and chaos. The mistakes made at the airport give new meaning to the term “domino effect.” It was a cascading series of missteps that cry out for action.The sign at the Transportation Security Administration screening post at Newark read: “Premises Under Constant Video Surveillance.”

What is should add is: “If We’re Lucky.”

That’s because CBS 2 has learned that when an unidentified man breached a secure area at Newark on Sunday night, delaying thousands of passengers for hours, the TSA cameras weren’t working.

That’s right – they weren’t even recording, sources said, and needed a reboot, which the agency apparently didn’t ask for. That set off a chain reaction of even more missteps that caused needless chaos and inconvenience for several thousand hapless passengers.

With the cameras inoperable, the TSA tried to get a second set of surveillance video from Continental Airlines. But the TSA apparently didn’t know the correct telephone number and the specific procedures to get the footage. That caused a two hour delay in identifying the intruder and closing the airport to look for him.

When they finally got the footage, they couldn’t find the intruder, discovering later that he had slipped out another entrance 20 minutes after he arrived.

“The question I would ask is should there be an independent camera system there. Who should be responsible for the law enforcement?” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Lautenberg is furious about what happened and he’s going to hold hearings to demand answers.

“You cannot afford a mistake here anymore than a surgeon in the operating room,” he said. “This system was broken.”

But that’s not all. The Edwardes family of Ontario, Canada may have felt the worst of the domino effect. They were finally flying home on Tuesday after being stranded since Sunday. For them, a 90 minute layover to change planes from San Diego to Ontario turned into a two-and-a-half day delay.

“We were a minute away from boarding,” said Terri Edwardes. “We just want to go home.”

The family was left to wait for hours and hours with no water, no food, no information about whether their plane would take off, and no hotel. So what did they get from Continental?

“They gave us one of these packages with a toothpaste, and a toothbrush, and hairspray in it. And deodorant,” said Jake Edwardes.

Needless to say, there is a lot of blame, and a lot of finger pointing. But as of now, if it were to happen again, there’s no guarantee it would be handled smoothly.

{CBS 2/ Newscenter}


  1. The TSA incompetence is astounding! If a private enterprise mistreated people like this and didn’t perform services as promised – it’d be sued and shut down!