Report: TSA Failed To Check FAA Lists For Terrorist Suspects

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At least six individuals listed by the FBI as possible terrorists also were listed in the FAA database as pilot certificate holders as of this June, according to The New York Times. After the Times questioned the TSA about the situation, the FAA suspended all six certificates. The Times had received the list of names from a small software company that said it found the six by comparing public records, an effort the TSA apparently never made. "The T.S.A. appears not to have taken notice of the terrorists even when two of them turned up on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted List," says the Times. A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the TSA, told the Times her department would "conduct a comprehensive review to see why the system failed to identify these people" and would consider whether the department should be looking at more federal lists. This week, however, the Times wrote that the software company found one more pilot in the FAA database who is wanted by the FBI, which has offered a $50,000 reward for the accused "domestic terrorist."

The fugitive pilot is also the owner of a 1977 Grumman-American Cheetah, which has been listed for sale online, according to the Times. Last week, several members of the Senate Commerce Committee and its aviation subcommittee sent a letter to the TSA and the FAA asking if they plan to address "apparent weaknesses in the existing vetting system that allowed individuals representing potential national security threats to retain their airman licenses." David Schiffer, president of Safe Banking Systems, the company that found the matches, told the Times it was "highly unlikely" that the TSA has started checking the FBI list against the FAA list, or it would have found the domestic terrorist that turned up in the company's latest cross-check.