Remember last week when we told you the sad tale of the TSA’s internal investigation, which found that TSA agents in major airports were only able to find a dummy bomb or weapon 5% of the time? We laughed, we cried, we bought those special underwear that are supposed to protect our junk from the X-ray backscatter machines.
Well, the TSA’s impressive level of success was not reserved for their hide-and-seek-with-your-undies security theater routine. Apparently, when the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General compared the employee roster to the no-fly list and got a surprise. It turns out that the TSA is so bad at identifying suspected terrorists, that they couldn’t even manage to root out the ones they were working right next to.
Investigators found 73 people were cleared by the Transportation Security Administration to work in sensitive jobs at U.S. airports despite possible links to terrorism in their backgrounds, according to a government report made public on Monday.
The lapse was partly due to the TSA not having access to all names on the federal government’s terrorist watchlists, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general said. In addition, local criminal background checks on employees at 467 airports were even “less effective,” the report concluded….The 73 people with “possible terrorism-related information” in their backgrounds were employed by major airlines, airport vendors and others. The redacted report didn’t identify the individuals, their current employment status or what jobs they held.
“TSA acknowledged that these individuals were cleared for access to secure airport areas despite representing a potential transportation security threat,” the inspector general said.
There’s no elaboration on what constitutes a “terrorist link,” but I doubt it’s something as simple as a grandmother in Tehran. Given the amount of information available to the NSA, and its routine explanation as to why its far too much to sort through, these 73 individuals had to stand out at least somewhat.
That said, the oversight is kind of understandable when you consider that it happened because the TSA, which is supposed to be screening people for their potential to cause airborne disaster, was not allowed access to the entire terrorism watchlist. This effectively prohibited the TSA — again, the agency in charge of preventing transportation-related terrorism — from comparing any of its employees names or backgrounds to people who were on the parts of the watchlist TSA couldn’t access.
This makes about as much sense as patting down a grandmother with a wooden leg.