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Airport security chief charged with DWI

By Steven Ginsberg
Washington Post

The chief of the Transportation Security Administration at Dulles International Airport was placed on administrative leave yesterday after being charged with drunken driving while he was on duty for a New Year's Eve Code Orange alert, officials said.

Acting federal security director Charles Brady was pulled over about 1 a.m. by a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police officer who saw him driving erratically on Route 28 near Dulles, airport spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said.

Brady, 49, was taken to the Fairfax County jail, where he was booked at 3 a.m. He was released at 1 p.m. yesterday after being charged with driving while intoxicated, said spokesman Lt. Tyler Corey, who described Brady as "extremely cooperative" during his stay.

On a night considered at particular risk of terrorism, with extraordinary security actions in place across the country, Brady was supposed to be at his airport post until 2 a.m. TSA spokeswoman Jennifer Marty said that Brady should have been participating in a security exercise to ensure the safety of air travelers at that hour.

"Obviously it was New Year's, and obviously it was not only a chance to practice but to be on site during the holiday to make sure everything goes smoothly," Marty said. Asked who at the airport had indeed made sure everything went smoothly at that hour, Marty replied, "I couldn't tell you."

Reached at his home in Oak Hill last night, Brady maintained that he was stopped at 2:30 a.m., 30 minutes after his shift had ended. He said he had spent his final work hours monitoring flights and declined to discuss his whereabouts after that.

"I'm just waiting for the results of [the TSA] investigation," he said.

Brady was arrested not long after the final passengers from a British Airways plane detained for hours because of security concerns were released from interviews at Dulles by TSA officials and FBI agents.

Flight 223, en route from London Heathrow Airport with 247 passengers, had been escorted to Dulles by U.S. fighter jets. It landed just after 7 p.m. Wednesday and was directed to a remote area, several hundred feet from a terminal gate, where baggage was searched and the plane inspected.

The nation was put under a Code Orange alert -- the second-highest level -- on Dec. 21 because of heightened fears of terrorism over the holiday season. That immediately triggered stepped-up security procedures across the country to protect government buildings, critical infrastructure such as nuclear plants and railroads, harbors, shopping malls and other locations where people congregate.

Security officials cited a particular risk from terrorists commandeering a plane heading to the United States from a foreign country and using it as a weapon as they did in Washington and New York City in 2001. Six Air France flights heading to Los Angeles were canceled before Christmas, and two London-to-Dulles flights were canceled yesterday because of security concerns.

U.S. officials said yesterday that an Aeromexico flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles also was canceled Wednesday evening for the same reasons.

Marty said the agency had named Adm. James Shear as acting federal security director at Dulles pending its internal investigation into Brady's arrest.

Brady said he came to Dulles in April 2002 as deputy federal security director. He became acting director in July when Scott McHugh resigned shortly after raising concerns internally about being shorthanded and unable to screen all luggage for explosives.