French investigators confirmed last week that a French
navy vessel detected signals
from one of the two black boxes of the EgyptAir airfare that crashed into
the Mediterranean on May 19th. The cause of the crash remains
unknown while international investigations proceed on several fronts, including
the suspected enduring fallibility of air security measures.
The Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport, from which the carrier
had taken off to fly to Cairo, has been heavily scrutinized over the past
several weeks. Since the Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket
attacks, between January 2015 and April 2016, 86,000
authorizations of airport personnel to access restricted airport areas were
re-examined. Over 600
Charles De Gaulle employees lost or failed to get clearance due to legal precedents, and so did 85 additional
employees who were suspected to be or to have been exposed to radicalization.
Within a month of the Paris terrorist attacks, about 70
badges were withdrawn from airport personnel with access to planes on the
ground who had fallen under suspicion of the French police.
Although much needed, a tightened security grip inevitably
comes with problematic implications, not the least of which is potential
conflicts arising from the necessity for accelerated background checks in contrast
with French labor laws that prevent employers from keeping ethnic, racial, and
religious data on employees. Suspected radical ties, in particular, can only be
reported based on observable behavior. Thus, a significant portion of the employees’
personal network – which may help provide critical elements to identify
suspects in a state of emergency – remains entirely unaccounted for.
From The Daily Beast:
years past, more quietly, police have broken up several criminal networks among
baggage handlers with radical Islamist connections. […]
badge normally requires at least one background check, and is then given for
three years—while radicalization, as we have seen, can take place in a matter
of months or even weeks.
years past, the communist CGT labor union and French law made it difficult to
dismiss employees suspected of radical Islamist sympathies. […]
But by last year, even the CGT leadership expressed
concerns about some of its members who were working for Air
France. After the November attacks, CGT-Air France secretary general Philippe
Martinez told France Info radio that 500 of 2,000 members had been identified
as “fundamentalists” and expelled from the union.
French law strictly forbids discrimination on
religious, ethnic, or racial grounds, as in the United States, but it goes much
further and prohibits keeping religious, ethnic, or racial data, so all
decisions about suspect personnel are based, punctiliously, on behavior and it
is hard to identify which actions may be tied to radical religious activities.
But, one must wonder, what about the
employees who show no public signs of religious fervor at all, like many of
those connected to the Paris and Brussels attacks in the last few months?”