Committee Releases Report on America’s Airports & the Threat From Within

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Majority Staff of the House Homeland Security Committee released a new report entitled, “America’s Airports: The Threat From Within.” This report is the result of a 2-year long investigation conducted by Chairman John Katko (R-NY)’s Transportation and Protective Security Subcommittee.

Chairman McCaul: “America’s aviation sector remains a crown jewel of ISIS and other terrorist groups targeting our homeland. As they continue to plot against us, we must be ready to confront them at every turn. I commend Rep. John Katko’s leadership on this important national security issue and specifically the subcommittee’s hard work assessing the vulnerabilities facing our aviation sector from within.”

Chairman Katko: “This report is the result of two years of intense oversight efforts. At a time when we face increased threats from homegrown radicalization and lone-wolf terrorism, we must ensure that our airport access controls are strong and that we are doing all we can to mitigate the insider threat to aviation security. The recommendations outlined in this report, along with the requirements of the Aviation Employee Screening and Security Enhancement Act of 2017, which I introduced today, will serve as a roadmap for TSA, airports, and air carriers to close security vulnerabilities at our nation’s airports. Our nation’s aviation system is interconnected, and we are only as secure as our least secure airport.”

Key Findings:

  • Inconsistencies exist across the aviation system related to how airport and air carrier security officials educate their credentialed populations on responsibly using their access and reporting suspicious activities.
  • Conflict between industry and government stakeholders often impedes needed improvements to aviation security.
  • After nearly two years of oversight efforts, the Subcommittee found that a majority of airports do not have full employee screening at secure access points.  These airports are unable to demonstrate the security effectiveness of their existing employee screening efforts, which consist largely of randomized screening by TSA officers or airport law enforcement personnel.
  • Recent insider threat examples discussed in this report include an attempt to detonate a bomb at an airport, gun and drug smuggling, an expressed willingness to smuggle explosives, as well as employees who became involved in terrorist activities overseas.