The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, recently announced a closure of security loopholes in a bid to improve its fight against terrorism in aviation.
In a 34-page report, the TSA acknowledged that although it was already screening over 2 million airport and aviation workers across the United States, it had failed to identify over seventy workers with potential links to deadly terrorist groups; the issue arose as the TSA identified that their list was not as comprehensive as the government’s terrorist database, leading to crucial misses in the screening process.
The TSA’s current approach is “multi-layered”, running background checks on all aviation workers and vendors according to their list. However, this list does not feature the Terrorist Identities Datamar Environment (TIDE) from the National Counterterrorism Center, leading to the misses in finding over seventy workers flagged by TIDE.
Inspector General John Roth welcomed the news, saying “it is vital to airport security that only fully vetted aviation workers receive credentials to access secure areas of our nation’s airports.”
In a move to clear up the discrepancy, the TSA announced that it was moving to the U.S. government’s broader terrorist database, with a view to completing the process nationwide by the end of 2015—the watchdog agency was also at pains to stress that these systematic “misses” were not a result of flaws in the TSA’s manual screening efforts.
One such incident took place in December 2014 at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, in which a worker at one of the carriers was charged with gun smuggling, using his security badge to carry weapons in, around and inside checkpoints before passing them onto another worker who then took the same weapons to New York to sell.
The bid by the TSA marks the watchdog’s continued commitment to ensuring the safety of airline travelers as well as workers through rigorous checks, while also coinciding with Homeland Security Jeb Johnson’s April 20 initiative to reduce domestic vulnerabilities.
For more information on the new TSA imitative, click here.
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