News / USA

Report Cites Weaknesses in Screening Foreigners at US Flight Schools

Report Cites Weaknesses in Screening Foreigners at US Flight Schoolsi
X
Cindy Saine
July 18, 2012 10:38 PM
A new report by a U.S. government watchdog agency says there are weaknesses in security measures meant to identify potential terrorists before they can launch another airborne strike on the United States. VOA Congressional Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.
Cindy Saine
CAPITOL HILL — More than a decade after the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States, a new U.S. government report says that some foreign aviation students still are not subject to terror database screening until after they have completed their flight training.  A Transportation Security Administration official faced tough criticism on Wednesday.
 
Several of the hijackers on September 11, 2001 trained in the United States to learn to fly jets into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing more than 3,000 people.
 
A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office says American commercial flight schools could still be unknowingly training potential terrorists.
 
At a hearing on Capitol Hill, Mike Rogers, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, part of House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, said he is amazed and disturbed that this is possible, given the measures put in place during the past decade.
 
"We have cancer patients, Iraq War veterans, and Nobel Peace Prize winners, all forced to undergo rigorous security checks before getting on an airplane.  At the same time, there are foreign nationals in the U.S. training to fly, just like Mohamed Atta and the other 9/11 [i.e., September 11, 2001] hijackers did, and not all of them are necessarily getting a security background check," he said. 
 
After the attacks, the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, established the Alien Flight Student Program to ensure that all foreign flight students receive criminal background checks and are screened against a terrorist watch list before they begin training.
 
At Wednesday's hearing, the TSA came under pressure from several lawmakers for the lack of screening cited in the report.
 
TSA official Kerwin Wilson said flight schools share some of the responsibility. "Flight training providers, regulated under this program, are prohibited from providing flight training to aliens until a security threat assessment has been successfully conducted by TSA," he said. 
 
Some House lawmakers at the hearing pointed out that the United States has been a global leader in flight training, and that it is impossible to provide absolute security from all potential threats, domestic and foreign.
 
Representative Chip Cravaack said, "We have a viable business in the United States in making sure that people without malintent want to come to the United States to become one of the best pilots in the world."
 
Government officials at the hearing said they will work to resolve the terror database screening problem within the next three months.  
 
Another security weakness that emerged in the hearing is that U.S. citizens who are on the government's "no-fly" list because they are considered threats would still be able to learn how to fly at commercial flight schools.  U.S. citizens are not subject to the same screening regulations as foreign flight students.  Lawmakers said this is another issue that the TSA needs to address.
 

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: john meade from: laguna niguel, calif
July 19, 2012 1:35 PM
TSA is a joke, pure and simple...just closely study their posturing and attitude at airports. I have always maintained that we need a military presence at our airports. Why?Because, the TSA folks are more concerned about going " on -break" or to lunch... whereas, our troops( trained military police) know the importance of "vigilance" Obviously, TSA's " coffee break" attitude is manifested throughout the organization. In the "Fool's Paradise" of Washington d.c., it's still not realized that we are AT WAR with terrorism!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid