A convicted felon and former member of a domestic terror group was permitted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to use airport security fast lanes last June, according to a report.
A whistleblower revealed the allegation "that a notorious felon was improperly cleared for TSA PreCheck screening and was allowed to use the PreCheck lanes," according to a press release from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG).
"After an extensive investigation of the allegation and assessment of the TSA PreCheck initiative, we determined that TSA provided a TSA PreCheck indicator and bar code on the traveler's boarding pass," the release reads. "After checking the traveler's boarding pass and identification, an alert Transportation Security Officer (TSO) at the airport recognized the felon and alerted his supervisor. However, the supervisor directed the TSO to take no action and allow the traveler to continue through the TSA PreCheck lane.
"We determined that this traveler had not applied for TSA PreCheck through the TSA PreCheck Application Program, but that TSA granted TSA PreCheck screening to this passenger through the risk assessment rules in the Secure Flight program."
In a report
about the incident, which was redacted before being made public, the inspector general calls the matter "a significant aviation security breach."
The person granted the PreCheck screening "is a former member of a domestic terrorist group," the report reads. "While a member, the traveler was involved in numerous felonious criminal activities that led to arrest and conviction. After serving a multiple-year sentence, the traveler was released from prison."
The incident occurred on June 29, 2014. The security officer checking passports and boarding passes recognized the traveler because of media coverage, according to the report, but a supervisor directed the officer to allow the traveler through the PreCheck lane and into the terminal.
The inspector general's recommendations to help prevent incidents like this from happening again included granting transportation security officers the power to deny anyone in a PreCheck lane from being cleared and instead force them to be checked in standard screening lanes.
"Mitigating and reducing passenger screening vulnerabilities is important to our nation's aviation security," Inspector General John Roth said. "Incidents like this highlight the need for TSA to modify their PreCheck procedures."
Officially introduced at the end of 2013 after a two-year pilot program, PreCheck
screening costs $100 for five years and allows qualified passengers, once they are closely vetted and interviewed by an agent from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, to more easily get through airport security lines.
Passengers use metal detectors instead of body scanners and are allowed to leave their shoes and jackets on and keep laptops and liquids in carry-on bags.
The TSA, however, does hold the right to screen PreCheck passengers more closely at its discretion.
Last fall, a report said PreCheck lanes
were being merged with standard screening lanes at several airports, including JFK in New York City.
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