Terror watchlist subjects approved to work at ports because of FBI bungling
Individuals on the terrorist watchlist were approved to work at ports across the country because FBI agents did not understand the vetting process, the Justice Department inspector general said Thursday.
In a new report, Justice Department watchdog Michael Horowitz said the FBI needs to more closely scrutinize to individuals seeking to work at secure maritime facilities.
The bureau’s bungling resulted in an unknown number of terrorism subjects securing Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, or TWIC, Mr. Horowitz said. TWIC provided workers with unescorted access to secure ships and facilities.
Some of the individuals approved are on the Department of Homeland Security’s no-fly list, according to the report.
The FBI verifies individuals seeking TWIC cards on behalf of the TSA.
FBI agents did “not adequately understand the TWIC program,” Mr. Horowitz said. Some agents did not even know what a TWIC was or the access it granted. Others did not comprehend the impact of approving an individual on the terrorist watch list access to a secure a port, according to the report.
“Some of the FBI agents we spoke with who provided input to the TSA did not adequately understand the level of access provided by a TWIC or other crucial details about the program and its risks,” Mr. Horowtiz said.
The FBI did not immediately return a request for comment.
In one instance, the bureau prepared documents indicating two individuals seeking TWIC cards were on the terrorist watchlist, but Mr. Horowitz said there is no evidence the documents were shared with TSA, Mr. Horowtiz wrote.
In February 2013, the individuals were removed from the terrorist watchlist and had active TWIC cards as of July 2017, according to the report.
Mr. Horowitz called the approval of one of those individuals for a TWIC card “particularly concerning.”
“Because of the TWIC, this individual had access to large scale modes of Maritime transportation and ports [redcated] which served to increase the risk this individual posed to transportation,” the report said.