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TSA Fails to ID 73 Airport Employees With Links to Terrorism

by Halimah Abdullah /  / Updated 
Image: A TSA officer inspects items from a piece of luggage at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer inspects items from a piece of luggage at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2013. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Monday cautioned airline passengers to get to the airport extra early because U.S. spending cuts have already led to long lines at some security checkpoints, and said the coming furloughs will only make the situation worse. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters, file

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A new Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report found that the Transportation Security Administration failed to identify 73 aviation employees with active clearance badges with links to terrorism.

The people, who were employed by major airlines, airport vendors and other employers, were not identified because TSA is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related information under current inter-agency policies, the report said.

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."

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.

"Without complete and accurate information, TSA risks credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for workers with potential to harm the nation’s air transportation system," the report found.

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."
The TSA agreed with the recommendations.

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