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Published On: Wed, May 25th, 2016

TSA blasted for “insider threat” security gap

NEW YORK — On Wednesday, the union representing police officers who work at JFK Airport in New York blasted the Transportation Security Administration for a “lack of attention to screening of all airport workers.”

It was a response to cell phone video obtained by CBS News, which shows airport workers swiping a key card and entering a secure area. No one verifies their identities or checks their bags.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, House Homeland Security Committee chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) also warned about the so-called insider threat.

“Militants are trying to recruit insiders and inside jobs to take down passenger jets,” he said.

TSA administrator Peter Neffenger said airport employee screening has improved.

“I think it’s far more effective this year than it was even last year,” he said.

The TSA now has full access to the biggest terror watch list maintained by the FBI. However, the agency checks employee criminal records only every two years.

Neffenger said a test program could soon change that.

“Assuming that goes well, we will implement that full time by the end of the year and that will be continuous vetting against criminal databases as well,” he said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not respond to requests for comment about the cell phone videos. Just three airports — Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta — have instituted 100 percent screenings of employees and their bags.

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