HARTFORD–A recently uncovered report has shed some light onto who is working at our airports.
A report issued in June 2015 from the Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Homeland Security titled “TSA Can Improve Aviation Worker Vetting” indicates that the Transportation Security Administration has not been thoroughly vetting airport employees.
According to the report, while the review of applications has been mostly effective, the “TSA did not identify 73 individuals with links to terrorism. This occurred because the TSA is not authorized under current inter-agency watch-listing policy to receive certain terrorism-related” information.
The TSA was not previously given access to certain terrorism watchlists, making it difficult for the agency to fully evaluate employees. Further, that task most mostly left to each airport, meaning that the level of vetting varied greatly in different cities. The TSA also had little oversight over the airports’ individual hiring practices. Therefore, the “TSA lacked assurance that it properly vetted all credential applicants.”
The issue is that this is regarding employees who have unrestricted access to secured areas of airports. The employees worked for major airlines, airport vendors and other employers past security checks.
“TSA did not identify these individuals through its vetting operations because it is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related categories under current inter-agency watch-listing policy.”
Some of the data indicates that many employees did not provide all necessary information. In fact, some were only recognized by a first initial and last name, or didn’t provide a social security number, making it difficult to ensure that all workers had passed criminal background checks and had proper authorization to work in the United States.
The 2015 report did not reveal where the 73 workers were employed.
However, COX Media reporter George Colli, who rolled out a series of reports on the issue on Monday for affiliate stations, filed several Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain the additional files. The report itself is available online, and FOX 61 reviewed that data.
One of the affiliate stations to receive Colli’s report was FOX25 Boston, which using the extra data received, reports that two of the 73 employees work (or worked, it’s unclear if these employees are still employed) at Logan Airport.
The report says the TSA will have to work with the Department of Homeland Security to formally request expanded access to watch lists. It also says that the TSA began working on the issue in 2014.
Here is part of the response the TSA provided to the report’s authors: “TSA is coordinating with DHS to formulate its request to receive additional Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment records to carry out its statutory duties to assess threats to transportation.” The TSA expected that to be completed by the end of last year, and says it is completed.
According to KIRO7, another affiliate to get the reports from Colli, “The TSA says none of the 73 private employees who received approved credentials are on a terrorist watchlist, and they don’t believe any of them are a threat.”
The TSA released a statement to FOX 25 that said. “There is no evidence to support the suggestion by some that 73 DHS employees are on the U.S. government’s consolidated terrorist watch list,” TSA national spokesman Michael England wrote in the statement.