Oakland Airport Followed the Rules with Troops on Layover

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You may remember the story of troops on layover at Oakland International Airport being denied access to the terminal facilities; it was a big “outrage” story in the blogosphere last year. But after an investigation, the Transportation Department now says the airport was only behaving according to policy: Airport found legitimate in troop treatment.

The Oakland International Airport did not break any laws or regulations when it denied 200 Marines and soldiers access to the passenger terminal during a layover last year from Iraq to the troops’ home base in Hawaii, the Transportation Department says.

Calvin L. Scovell III, the department’s inspector general, blamed the mix-up on security concerns and a communication failure between the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department.

The contract to allow military layovers at the California airport “did not require that military personnel have access to the airport terminal; it only required that military personnel be allowed to deplane and stretch their legs on stops lasting over one hour,” said a report released yesterday to House lawmakers who requested an investigation into the matter.

The Sept. 27 layover was the last stop for fuel and food, but the troops, who were returning from a tour in Iraq, were denied access to food and bathroom facilities.

A Marine reported the incident to Rep. John L. Mica, Florida Republican and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and said it “felt like being spit on.”

Airport officials were concerned that the flight’s ground staff could not provide “an adequate level of escort and control of such a large group of military personnel in or around the terminal area,” the inspector’s report said.

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