The Transportation Security Administration allowed a former member of a domestic terrorist group to travel through an expedited screening process known as TSA PreCheck, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.
The redacted report does not identify the traveler by name, but says he/she “was involved in numerous felonious criminal activities that led to arrest and conviction,” and served a multiple-year prison sentence. The TSA PreCheck Program allows eligible travelers to bypass the typical cumbersome screening process afforded to everyone else.
Despite a transportation security officer’s (TSO) recognition of the “sufficiently notorious convicted felon based on media coverage,” the report says, the TSA did not stop the expedited screening process. “The TSO followed the standard operating procedures and reported this to the supervisory TSO who then directed the TSO to take no further action and allow the traveler through the TSA PreCheck lane,” the report says. “As a result, TSA does not have an incident report for this event.”
The DHS Inspector General recommended that the passenger be removed from the program that allows for the expedited screening, but the TSA did not agree. “Had the intelligence or national law enforcement communities felt that this passenger posed an elevated risk to commercial aviation, they would have nominated [redacted] to one of these lists, and [redacted] would have been prevented from being designated as a lower-risk traveler,” the TSA responded.
While the TSA defends its decision to let this felon receive a relaxed security check, TSA screeners have singled out several public officials in the past, including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz. Though they are not former members of a domestic terrorist group, they are members of Congress who support abolishing the TSA and investigating the agency’s misconduct, respectively. Why the TSA thinks these two prominent Republicans deserved more attention than a convicted felon remains unclear, but the TSA says it takes its responsibility for protecting the public “very seriously.”
“All passengers, including those with TSA PreCheck on boarding passes, are subject to a robust security approach that employs multiple layers of security, both seen and unseen,” said TSA spokesman David Castelveter in a statement. “Together, these layers provide enhanced security and a stronger, more protected transportation system for the traveling public.”