TSA Back Under Fire After Failing to Identify 73 Airport Workers with Terror Ties

Earlier this month, Truth in Media reported on the fact that the Transportation Security Administration abysmally failed a Department of Homeland Security performance test in which 67 of 70 undercover DHS agents were able to slip through security at dozens of US airports with potential weapons and explosives. In response, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson benched TSA Acting Administrator Melvin Carraway and reassigned him to the DHS Office of State and Local Law Enforcement. Secretary Johnson then promoted TSA Acting Deputy Director Mark Hatfield to replace Carraway as head of the TSA.

Meanwhile, a new Department of Homeland Security inspector general report, released last Thursday, identified the fact that the TSA’s airport employee screening procedures failed to identify 73 workers “linked to terrorism.” Fox News notes that the 73 workers were employed by airlines, vendors, and other airport employers.

The TSA did not identify these individuals through its vetting operations because it is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related categories under current interagency watch-listing policy,” read the report. The DHS inspector general called the TSA’s airport worker security checks “generally effective,” but noted that some employees slipped through the cracks because the TSA “relied on airport operators to perform criminal history and work authorization checks, but had limited oversight over these commercial entities.

The report said of the 73 workers with alleged terror ties, “TSA acknowledged that these individuals were cleared for access to secure airport areas despite representing a potential transportation security threat.

TSA had less effective controls in place for ensuring that aviation workers 1) had not committed crimes that would disqualify them from having unescorted access to secure airport areas, and 2) had lawful status and were authorized to work in the United States,” read the report.

The report also determined that “thousands of records used for vetting workers contained potentially incomplete or inaccurate data, such as an initial for a first name and missing social security numbers” and that the “TSA did not have appropriate edit checks in place to reject such records from vetting.

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 inspector general concluded.

Former TSA official Chad Wolf said in the above-embedded video by CNN, “These are airport workers, so this really speaks to the issue of the insider threat. TSA’s primary way to guard against that is to make sure that these background checks are complete and they’re exhaustive, and what this report says is they’re not complete, nor are they exhaustive.