Perhaps its time to give some serious thought as to whether the TSA ought to be its own agency or not. A Department of Homeland Security report found that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) failed on 73 occasions to identify aviation employees with active links to terrorism. This means 73 agents with clearance badges and thus access to aircraft, screened baggage and other sensitive areas, were actively associated with terrorist groups.
The specific people were not identified because the TSA is not permitted to receive all terrorism-related information under current inter-agency policies.
The report found that the “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”. “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.”
The lack of data-sharing means there is a strong case to absorb the agency into another one of our many police forces, which would have access to such data. It’s clear the TSA on its own does not have the full trust of other agencies, making the job of vetting agents difficult as a stand-alone agency.
But there are also problems with the TSA and its policies, as thousands of records used to vet employees contained incomplete or inaccurate data, such as lacking a full first name or 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 report stated.
The key recommendations were that the 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.”
Despite billions of dollars spent to upgrade the TSA over the last decade, the agency remains woefully inept. It recently emerged that agency has lost thousands of security clearance badges and also failed to prevent explosives and weapons smuggling about 95 percent of the time.