TWIC IDs could leave secure areas open to a terrorist attack, GAO finds

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) secure identification card is not as secure as necessary to prevent a potential terrorist attack at U.S. ports, according to a Government Accountability Office report released this month.

In its report, GAO found that the Transportation Security Administration does not have adequate processes in place to ensure that the TWIC biometric ID cards don't fall into the wrong hands. TSA cannot guarantee that only qualified applicants receive TWIC IDs, people who have received TWIC ID cards remain eligible to have them, and reviewers apply standard criteria for evaluating applicants with criminal records, according to the report.

In addition, undercover GAO auditors exposed physical security weaknesses at several U.S. ports by entering secure areas with counterfeit TWIC cards and real cards obtained fraudulently, the report states.

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Reader comments

Tue, May 17, 2011 Fort Huachuca

I agree 100% with the report -- I have a TWIC based on a semi-valid need. The process requires two visits to a location to get the card - both visits require two forms of valid ID - - but I was never questioned on the true verified need to have the card . . . .

Thu, May 12, 2011 RayW

Any ID system (currently) that is not based on a face to face vouchering of the person is subject to fraud. If man can create a perfect ID, then someone else can make a perfect forgery. And the more user friendly the ID has to be, the more vulnerable it is.

Then you have the human factor to make mistakes and to bend rules, in most cases no stereotyping since all must be equally treated and to the lowest common denominator. That means that checklist investigations are performed that can not/are not allowed to see beyond a narrow range of questions. And the folks who are dishonest know how to tweak their responses/environment to get the "right" answers.

The Chinese have forged/compromised CAC certificates, Mexicans have forged US driver licenses and forged US Social Security cards that look real, and the list goes on.

The problem with better and better ID, is that most people expect "better" to mean "more secure", and that is true, for a few days. But after that, the "better" only means the honest folks are less likely to just walk in. Then the people inside become more lax and assume that the bad guys who want in have the same disadvantage as folks outside who do not care.

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