If you are Julian Assange, and you put hundreds of thousands of classified documents on the Internet, you become a folk hero who is somehow beyond the reach of the U.S. government. But if you are a licensed commercial pilot who posts a handful of cell phone videos that show potential holes in airport security, that’s another story.
According to a biography on his website, Chris Liu is an Army veteran and a helicopter pilot who rose to the rank of captain before leaving the military to pursue a career in commercial aviation – first as an instructor, ultimately as a pilot for a major airline. He volunteered for the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, begun after 9/11, that trains and deputizes select pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit. After psychological and background checks, he was accepted.
Now Liu is in trouble with the government that only a few weeks ago entrusted him with the lives of airline passengers. On Dec. 2, six federal agents and sheriff’s deputies arrived at his home outside Sacramento to confiscate his FFDO credentials and his government-issued handgun. Days later, the Transportation Security Administration sent Liu a letter stating that he had violated the FFDO’s rules for nondisclosure and standards of conduct.
How? In November, Liu anonymously posted videos on YouTube, since removed, showing security weaknesses at San Francisco International Airport. While passengers and even flight crews endure body scans and pat-downs, ground crews face limited screening.