Whistleblower Pilot Reveals His Identity

Photo: Chris Liu: I am the YouTube airline pilotPlayKXTV/ABC News
WATCH Whistleblower Pilot Goes Public

The airline pilot who spoke out anonymously after he was reprimanded by the Transportation Security Administration for posting videos to YouTube showing security flaws at a major airport revealed his identity today.

"My name is Chris Liu, and I'm an airline pilot," Liu said during an exclusive interview with ABC affiliate KXTV in Sacramento, Calif., at his home in Colfax.

Liu, 50, told KXTV he decided to come out of the shadows because he wanted to be an active player in efforts to improve airport security.

"You have passengers and air crew upstairs being screened, while ground crew downstairs come and go with the swipe of a card," he said.

This past weekend, he had said he hoped he could soon safely identify himself.

"I look forward to fully joining the debate on the national security problems that I helped to expose through my YouTube videos," the pilot wrote on his website, The Patriot Pilot.

On Sunday, Liu's attorney, Don Werno, told KXTV that the man still feared retaliation from the TSA, and that he wanted to keep his job as a pilot.

In an interview with "World News" last week when he was still keeping his name a secret, Liu said it was the "fallacy of the system" that inspired him to post the videos on YouTube.

Late last month, he took a series of videos with his cell phone to show major flaws he said still exist in airport security systems. The videos show how easily ground crews at San Francisco International Airport were able to enter secure areas.

"As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here," he said on one video.

Pilot Says He'd 'Had Enough'

The pilot said he has worked for his airline for more than a decade, and was also an Army reserve helicopter test pilot. He was deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit. But he said he'd had enough, and wanted to do what he could to draw attention to what he believes is still a major flaw in airport security.

"People don't understand that when they walk through the TSA checkpoints, well, they are getting ... a groping, but they don't understand that all those people you see outside, the ground personal, all the caterers, all the airline cleaners, they get virtually nothing," he said in an interview with ABC News.

Liu used the videos to make his point.

"I wanted to give you an idea of what type of security the ground crews go through. Their screening is sliding a card and going through a door. Not screened at all," the pilot said in one clip.

Liu is not the first person to raise these security issues. The unfettered access that ground crews, baggage handlers and others have at most major airports had been reported in the past, especially after 9/11.

He first posted the videos to YouTube Nov. 28. Three days later, Liu said, four federal air marshals and two local sheriff's deputies showed up at his home to question him about the footage. The pilot filmed the conversation, during which the federal marshals confiscated his federally issued firearm and his federal flight deck officer credentials.

"I was surprised by the response. It was a bit of overkill. I could have just dropped my badge and weapon in a FedEx box and FedExed it in for 20 bucks," said the Liu. "They sent six people over to pick up a handgun and a badge. I said, 'That is your federal government with your tax dollars.'"

He received a follow-up letter after the encounter informing him that his permit to carry the firearm was being re-evaluated following the outcome of a federal investigation.

He also received a letter directly from the TSA that said, "an administrative review into your deputation status as a Federal Flight Deck Officer has been initiated."

Pilot Records TSA Airport Security Flaws

In a statement sent to ABC News after the "World News" interview, the TSA said it holds "all employees and those serving as federal flight deck officers, or FFDOs, to the highest ethical standards. The TSA responded and took action in this situation because the pilot in question was an FFDO. FFDOs must be able to maintain sensitive security information as a condition of the FFDO program. As the issuing authority of credentials and firearms, TSA reviews each possible violation of those standards and acts accordingly up to and including removing an individual from the assigned role. As to access control at SFO, TSA is confident in the tools the airport has implemented and reminds passengers there are security measures in place that are both seen and unseen."

Reaction in the aviation community has been mixed.

"I'm not aware of a commercial airline pilot going this far," ABC News aviation consultant John Nance said. "On one side every airline pilot in the country is virtually outraged at the insanity of putting pilots through security. On the other hand, you've got people who can just swipe their way in or out."

Still, Nance said, others argue, "What we don't want to do is wave a red flag at our enemies and say, 'Hey, take a look at this vulnerability.'"

The pilot said he has not gotten into trouble with his airline, although it did ask that he remove any public access to his videos on YouTube, which he has done.

And while he still remains under investigation by the TSA, he said all he wanted to do was bring attention to the issue and that the government's response is what helped turn this into a news story.

"I just tried to address my concerns and voice it on YouTube," he said. "Basically all you have to do, is we have an employee line, you just put them through the employee screener."

ABC News' Susie Banikarim and David Muir contributed this report.