Airport Workers on Terror Watch Lists Slipped Through TSA Screening
Policy + Politics

Airport Workers on Terror Watch Lists Slipped Through TSA Screening

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The Transportation Security Administration failed to flag dozens of airport workers whose names appeared on terrorist watch lists.

That’s according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General, which has recently pumped out a spate of scathing reports calling into question whether the TSA is successfully executing its mission of keeping America’s airports safe.

Related: Report Says TSA Wasted $1 Billion on Screening Program

The latest IG report reveals that at least 70 airport workers on terrorist-related watch lists were able to slip through the TSA’s screening process since the agency wasn’t looking at all of the databases.

Auditors said the TSA missed these people because the agency isn’t authorized to receive all terrorism-related information or access to all relevant databases.

Overall, the auditors said the TSA’s vetting process was generally effective—but still needs to be improved in order to prevent more people from slipping through the cracks. For instance, some records used to vet aviation workers contained incomplete or inaccurate data—including missing Social Security numbers.

"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 auditors said in the report.

Related: Here’s the Secret Criteria the TSA Uses to Spot Terrorists

The IG recommended that the TSA follow up on its request to get more information and access to other DHS databases to complete its vetting process. The agency concurred with the recommendation.

The latest report comes one week after a separate investigation revealed that the TSA failed to detect contraband getting through its airport screeners in an internal test. Auditors were able to sneak mock explosives through the screeners 95 percent of the time.

Those alarming revelations led the TSA’s acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, to resign abruptly. That investigation is still ongoing, and a full report on the TSA’s screening vulnerabilities is expected in the coming months.

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