TSA failed to ID dozens of potential terrorism-linked employees

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The Transportation Security Administration failed to identify dozens of employees with potential links to terrorism, according to a report released Monday by a government watchdog.

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General found TSA didn't identify 73 individuals because the agency lacked access to terrorism-related information from within the government.

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The terrorism indicators for those individuals — employed by major airlines, airport vendors and others — went undetected as they applied for unescorted access to secure airport areas.

It’s just the latest problem for the embattled TSA.

Acting Administrator Melvin Carraway was removed from office last week after another report found airport security employees failed in 67 of 70 tests, allowing undercover agents to sneak fake explosives and weapons through security. 

President Obama’s pick to lead the TSA, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger, has yet to be approved by the Senate. He was nominated in April, and last week was approved by the Senate transit committee.

The latest report involving the agency identified the 73 individuals after the National Counterterrorism Center compared more than 900,000 records of active aviation workers with those in its database.

Specific terms were redacted, but the report said that “TSA acknowledged that these individuals were cleared for access to secure airport areas despite representing a potential transportation security threat."

The watchdog found that TSA’s failure to identify those linked to terrorism had to do with broader issues with its data, including thousands of files with incomplete or inaccurate employee information. 

Nearly 87,000 files lacked Social Security numbers, something that is not a requirement but is suggested. Thousands lacked passport numbers or citizenship information. 

In 300 employee files, the individual was identified by a single character, instead of a full name. 

In a lengthy response to the audit dated April 24, Carraway agreed with the recommendations put forth by DHS. He noted that TSA vets 2 million aviation workers per year.