Video: Security at U.S. borders iffy

By Lisa Myers Senior investigative correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/1/2006 7:05:45 PM ET 2006-08-01T23:05:45

Along the northern and southern borders, undercover federal investigators tried to enter the United States using fake driver’s licenses and fake birth certificates.

The results? Staggering. At all nine border crossings tested, investigators got in easily. Not a single border agent detected the phony IDs. In fact, at two crossings, agents didn't even check any IDs at all.

"Well, this is totally unacceptable,” says Thomas Kean, former chairman of the 9/11 commission.

Kean notes that some 9/11 hijackers used fraudulent IDs. He says someone must finally be held accountable for lapses at the border.

"It’s happened too often," Kean says. "And the American people aren’t safe because of it.”"

In fact, this investigation by the Government Accountability Office is a follow-up to one three years ago in which three crossings were tested, and all the agents failed to detect the fake IDs.

At the time, we gave a Washington, D.C., bar manager a stack of IDs to see if he could pick out a fake license — almost exactly the same as the one government agents missed.

He did.    

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says it's appalling that nothing has been fixed.

"The Department of Homeland Security hasn't made any progress in three years!" Grassley says.

We will not reveal the exact crossings tested this year, but they're in a variety of states: California, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Michigan and New York.

DHSsays it has increased manpower and training so officers can spot fake documents.

"It is important to note we acknowledge the vulnerability exists," says DHS official Paul Morris. "And it will continue as long as we have inconsistent and somewhat insecure documents."

The 9/11 commission and now DHS say the answer is to require passports for everyone crossing the border — even Americans.

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