Homeland Security officials are seeking answers after a new report revealed that security breaches at major airports have been under-reported more than half of the time.
Commercial air travel is at risk from terrorists who quietly get jobs at airports so they can attack from within sensitive areas, a senior Homeland Security Department official told lawmakers Wednesday during an oversight hearing.
New fears of the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse have emerged after authorities discovered a security supervisor at Newark Liberty Airport was working under a stolen identity.
Nigerian Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole is facing criminal charges after being accused of living 20 years under the stolen identity of a New York man, Jerry Thomas, who was murdered three weeks later.
TSA officials said the man never worked for the organization and the agency did not issue his security badge.
Oyewole was vetted by the TSA-required background criminal and terror checks, but because he worked at the airport for so long, the TSA said they did not do a separate check to verify his identification.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey learned of the split-identity through an anonymous letter.
They said Oyewole entered the United States illegally in 1989 and had worked under several contractors at the airport, most recently FJC Security Services, and had supervised about 30 guards.
Senior TSA official, assistant administrator John Sammon, told lawmakers Wednesday that he could not assure other similar cases haven't occurred around the country.
The agency defended their sporadic reports of breaches by citing inconsistent definitions of the term itself.
But Rep. Mike Rogers. R-Mich., said he didn't care what definition was used.
"If somebody gets through a checkpoint, a secure access checkpoint, that's not supposed to and it's reported to a supervisor, that ought to be reported," he said.
Lawmakers are currently devising new government rules that would strengthen identification reviews and require a criminal history check every five years.