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Tipsheet

Good News: Thousands of High Security TSA Badges Are Missing

In case you missed it last week, Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth testified in front of the House Oversight Committee about the status of the Transportation Security Administration. His findings were alarming. From Dan's reporting

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“Unfortunately, although nearly 14 years have passed since TSA’s inception, we remain deeply concerned about its ability to execute its mission,” he continued. “Since 2014 we have published more than 115 audit and inspector reports about TSA’s programs and operations. We’ve issued hundreds of recommendations to attempt to improve TSA’s efficiency and effectiveness. We have conducted a series of covert penetration tests, essentially testing TSA’s ability to stop us from bringing in simulated explosives and weapons through checkpoints, as well as testing whether we could enter secure areas through other means.”

Their findings, however, were less-than-comforting.

“Although the results of those tests are classified—and we’d be happy to brief any member or their staffs in a secure setting with regard to our specific findings—we identified vulnerabilities caused by human and technology based failures.”

“Our audits have repeatedly found that human error—often a simple failure to follow protocol—poses significant transportation security vulnerabilities,” he added.

Now, a new report from NBC 5 in Atlanta confirms the "vulnerabilities caused by human and technology based failures" and shows thousands of high-security TSA badges are missing from airports across the country along with uniforms and other TSA agent items (bolding is mine).

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An exclusive NBC 5 investigation found hundreds and perhaps even thousands of airport security badges, known as Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) badges, are unaccounted for across the country.

NBC 5 Investigates requested records from some of the nation's largest airports asking how many SIDA badges are unaccounted for.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport sent a response saying more than 1,400 badges were lost or stolen over approximately two years.

Larry Wansley, who once led security for American Airlines, believes the missing badges present serious concerns for security officials and are something terrorists would like to have possession of in order to compromise security.

Police reports obtained by NBC 5 Investigates from D/FW Airport show more than just ID badges disappear each year. Employees have reported lost and stolen airline uniform shirts, an entire FedEx pilot's uniform, missing TSA badges and even a federal flight deck officer's credentials and badge, which allow a pilot to carry a gun on a plane.

And surprise: TSA didn't want to disclose the numbers or admit the badges were lost. Further, TSA stepped in to prevent reporters from obtaining the number of lost badges at airports outside Atlanta. 

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Before NBC 5 Investigates could get missing ID badge information from other airports, like Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration stepped in and said we couldn't have those numbers.

The TSA said it is security sensitive information and they don't want to say just how often airport ID's go missing at each airport.

TSA receives $8 billion in taxpayer funding each year. 

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