NBC News reported Monday on a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general that found that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) failed to identify 73 airport employees with links to terrorism. The report comes a week after the media covered another internal investigation that found disturbing security failures at several major airports.
NBC News reports:
“The agency’s “multi-layered process to vet aviation workers for potential links to terrorism was generally effective. In addition to initially vetting every application for new credentials, TSA recurrently vetted aviation workers with access to secured areas of commercial airports every time the Consolidated Terrorist Watchlist was updated,” the report found. “However, our testing showed that TSA did not identify 73 individuals with terrorism-related category codes because TSA is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related information under current interagency watchlisting policy.””
“Generally effective” is not a comforting term when we are talking about an agency that is not only charged with the security of the nation’s airports, but preventing people with malicious intent from putting American lives in jeopardy.
“Further, the thousands of records used to vet employees contained such incomplete or inaccurate data as lacking a full first name or missing social security numbers. TSA ran into particular problems in the vetting process when potential aviation employees has not committed crimes and were legal resident or citizens.
The report recommended that TSA “request additional watchlist data, require that airports improve verification of applicants’ right to work, revoke credentials when the right to work expires, and improve the quality of vetting data.””
Read the full NBC News report here.
The report comes roughly a week after another internal investigation found security failures at “dozens of the nation’s busiest airports.”
“In one case, an alarm sounded, but even during a pat-down, the screening officer failed to detect a fake plastic explosive taped to an undercover agent’s back. In all, so-called “Red Teams” of Homeland Security agents posing as passengers were able get weapons past TSA agents in 67 out of 70 tests — a 95 percent failure rate, according to agency officials.
This isn’t the first time TSA officers have failed to detect fake terrorists and their weapons. “Red Teams” have been probing TSA checkpoints for 13 years, oftentimes successfully getting weapons past airport screeners.
However, this time, TSA agents failed to detect almost every single test bomb and gun, aviation experts said.” – NBC News, June 1, 2015
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reassigned the TSA’s acting director, Melvin Carraway, after the initial report was released. However, despite the agency’s alarming failures, President Obama continues to express confidence in its ability to keep the nation’s airports secure.