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LAX is running its own mini CIA, and it could change airport security everywhere

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This could be the new norm for airports

Los Angeles International Airport has its own intelligence-gathering unit now, and instead of relying on information from federal sources, it's collecting its own information on potential threats, says The Atlantic.

The magazine took an in-depth look at the two-person team, which has combined experience in federal intelligence, the military, and assessing threats to cities. Since they were hired in the summer of 2014, the two are quickly putting their expertise to use.

“After only two years, their global scope and analytic capabilities promise to rival the agencies of a small nation-state,” The Atlantic writes.

Their work is likely to have a larger, global impact:

Their work promises to propel the city’s aging airport to the forefront of today’s conversations about what it means to protect critical infrastructure and, in the process, to redefine where true power lies in the 21st-century metropolis.

The idea for the unit dates to 2010, when then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put together a panel to look closely at the security of LA-area airports. When a final report was released in 2011, one of the main recommendation was that Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX and the much smaller Van Nuys airport, create its own “Director of Intelligence” and build up “a staff focused exclusively on gathering and analyzing intelligence regarding terrorist threats.”

In doing so, the airport doesn’t have to rely on other intelligence sources and can focus solely on LAX. The Atlantic says this could be the future of airport security.

[I]n 20 years’ time, it could very well be that LAX has a stronger international-intelligence game than many U.S. allies. LAX field agents could be embedded overseas, cultivating informants, sussing out impending threats. It will be an era of infrastructural intelligence, when airfields, bridges, ports, and tunnels have, in effect, their own internal versions of the CIA—and LAX will be there first.

Read the full story over at The Atlantic.