In a recent news article, Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth read a troublesome report on recent security blunders and lapses at the long-troubled agency.
The recent blunders include inadequate baggage screening, hiring of convicted criminals, questionable spending, narcotics smuggling and human trafficking by TSA employees. During the hearing last week after Jer Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security reassigned the acting administrator of the TSA in the wake of reports that auditors from Roth’s office had successfully slipped mock explosives and weapons past TSA checkpoints 67 out of 70 times.
The latest case, Inspector General Roth said, is investigators had found the names of 73 airport workers “with possible terrorism-related information” in a classified federal database that the TSA could not normally access. Roth testified “TSA acknowledged that these individuals were cleared for access to secure airport areas despite representing a potential security threat.”
The discovery of this information was after Roth requested over 900,000 active aviation workers be checked again the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE. This database contains confirmed and unconfirmed information about people with potential terrorist links.
Following the search 73 matches of people cleared for access to secure areas with possible relations to terrorist ties. Typically those people who are hired by the airlines and airport vendors are checked against a more narrow and unclassified database that is maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center.
General Roth also repeatedly criticized the TSA’s use of PreCheck, which allows for expedited screening of vetted passengers, He said the TSA allows expedited screening of nearly half the flying population, often by randomly pulling people out of line. In one case, he said “a former member of a domestic terrorist group” was granted expedited screening even though the traveler was “sufficiently notorious” that a TSA screening recognized him. The screener “notified his supervisor, who directed him to take no further action and allow the traveler to proceed through the PreCheck lane”.
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