TSA failed to find 73 aviation and airport workers on terror watch list

The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General on Monday dropped a report that reveals cracks in the Transportation Security Administration’s process for vetting aviation workers.

The report revealed that while the TSA’s terrorism screening process was “generally effective,” the TSA failed to identify 73 active aviation workers with links to terrorism and lacked “effective controls” to keep prospective employees with criminal histories and illegal status from getting a job at airports in the U.S.

The gaps in TSA security procedures are just the latest that have been uncovered in the last month. Last week, a report based on an internal investigation revealed that Homeland Security officials were able to get banned items through security checks 95% of the time.

The 73 individuals identified in the latest report “were employed by major airlines, airport vendors, and other employers,” but the TSA failed to identify any link to terrorism during vetting because of gaps in access to the interagency terrorism watchlist database.

The individuals represented “a potential transportation security threat,” according to the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general report.

“This occurred because TSA is not authorized under current interagency watchlisting policy to receive certain terrorism-related category codes” as part of their vetting process, the report explained. The redacted report did not disclose what category codes were excluded from TSA’s vetting process.

The TSA is now coordinating with DHS to ensure it has access to all necessary terrorism watchlist information.

When it came to the criminal vetting process, the TSA relied on airports and airlines to carry out criminal background checks, but did not sufficiently oversee or verify the process, according to the DHS Office of the Inspector General’s report.

“TSA did not have an adequate monitoring process in place to ensure that airport operators properly adjudicated credential applicants’ criminal histories,” the report reads.

Part of the problem is that current FBI policy prohibits the TSA from conducting recurrent criminal checks on aviation workers.