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Congress Worried about Security Gaps at Airports

A new report from the House Homeland Security subcommittee reveals concerns over “inconsistent screening of airport employees,” according to CNN, along with “insufficient TSA access to intelligence information used to vet individuals and inadequate control of access to sensitive areas of airports.”

The investigation referred to multiple reported breaches, including officials getting caught smuggling drugs through screening checkpoints or being associated with ISIS. Per CNN, the report “also highlighted a number of specific cases where the government said dozens of aviation employees had possible ties to terrorism and thousands of employees had incomplete records.”

The report called for greater collaboration and cooperation between the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and said it was concerned about the FBI’s lack of involvement with other agencies.

Most troubling, the investigation cited a leaked government watchdog report that showed a 95 percent failure rate on covert tests of the TSA screening process. In these undercover tests, done in 2015, nearly all banned items made it through airport security checkpoints.

Well, none of this sounds very good, does it? Failing to adequately screen airport employees, who have access to densely crowded, chaotic areas of airports like food courts, is deeply, deeply troubling, especially in light of the recent spate of airport attacks over the past several years. It’s not clear what makes the screening “insufficient,” but reports of drugs being smuggled through checkpoints gives us a clue. Hopefully that’s the worst of it, and people aren’t sneaking weapons into post-security areas.

As for what can be done to address these problems, CNN reports “the subcommittee recommended tightening the process for granting airport workers credentials and instituting regular reassessments,” which seems obvious, and said airports and airlines should look at the “costs and feasibility of expanding the physical screening of employees.”

In the meantime, we passengers will be over here with our shoes off, clutching our zip-top bags of three-ounce liquids.

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