Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report Thursday that revealed that the U.S. may not be as prepared to defend against maritime terrorism threats as it thought it was. Horowitz found that data from the FBI that said the U.S. was at low risk for maritime terrorism was based on data that was “incomplete and potentially inaccurate.”
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One key reason the risk of maritime terrorism, according to Horowitz, was the fact that the U.S. failed to properly screen employees to ensure that they are not terror suspects.
Workers were supposed to acquire Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) before they were allowed access to all facilities and ships. The FBI is supposed to verify that workers are not included on the Terror Watch List — otherwise known as the “No Fly List” — on behalf of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).
According to Horowitz’s report, some employees who obtained a TWIC were included on the Terror Watch List. The inspector general claimed that the failure to follow protocol on this issue was due in large part to the confusion of several FBI agents as to what TWICs were are the level of access it granted holders.
“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,” Horowitz reported.
The report redacted sensitive information, so it is unclear as to how many potential terrorists were credentialed.
Horowitz’s report comes on the heels of several 2020 presidential hopefuls endorsing the use of the Terror Watch List to prevent some Americans from buying guns. As IJR previously reported, this policy proposal has been criticized by those who believe it undermines due process because several Americans have accidentally ended up on the list.
It looks like there is plenty of work to be done on improving the use of the Terror Watch List.