Sunday, August 7, 2011

FAA issues licenses to mechanics with dubious connections

Posted by- Neelam Mathews
Aug 7, 2011

A recent U.S DHS inspector general report  shows that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had issued pilot and aircraft mechanic licenses to at least 27 individuals with terrorist connections. 

What’s scaring is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) cannot determine the identities of thousands of people who currently hold FAA licenses. 

The report found that the FAA did not have Social Security numbers for nearly 550,000 of the 1.3 million people in the Airmen Registry. Further, of the Social Security numbers that the agency had, more than 15,000 of them had discrepancies in their name, gender, or date of birth. Not all of the inaccurate information poses a security threat, as more than 8,000 of the license holders were dead.

The report was initially requested two years ago by four Senators after it was found that a man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988 still possessed his FAA license. In addition both a man caught smuggling military equipment to Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as a self-described “eco-terrorist” convicted of attempting to manufacture an airborne poison were found to still hold their FAA licenses.

The discrepancies are a clear indication of the poor state of federal records. A computer search found that 29,000 FAA certificates matched the names of individual’s on the government’s Terrorist Screening Database, but further analysis found that 28,500 of the matches were invalid and 506 have led to closer scrutiny, which led to the aforementioned list of twenty-seven names.

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