The Edge of Terrorism
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|Jim Kouri||July 23rd 2012|
In a shocking discovery, the U.S. government allowed up to 25 illegal aliens to attend a flight school in Boston, according to a Government Accountability Office report and a Fox News Channel story on Friday.
The illegal aliens included eight who had entered the country illegally and 17 who had overstayed their allowed period of admission into the United States, according to an audit by the GAO. Even more shocking was the report that the owner of the flight school is an illegal alien.
Three of the illegal aliens were actually able to get pilot’s licenses, according to the GAO. The revelation of the illegalities occurring at the FAA-licensed flight school occurred when local police officers -- not members of the multi-billion dollar budgeted Homeland Security Department -- captured the owner of the school during a traffic stop and were able to determine that he was an illegal alien.
A “weakness” discovered within the TSA’s Alien Flight Student Program is that it doesn't check immigration status, something that gets a very low priority in the Obama administration, say critics of U.S. immigration enforcement. "Almost 10 years after terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the worst and deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S., how could the federal government allow an illegal alien to obtain a pilot’s license and run a school that trains dozens of foreigners to fly small aircraft?" asks former police lieutenant and counterterrorism expert Steven Knudsen.
The illegal alien students also told investigators that the TSA never asked them about their immigration status when they enrolled in flight school. According to a Judicial Watch investigation, the owner of TJ Aviation Flight Academy students accused of being in the United States illegally received clearance to train as pilots despite supposed strict security controls put in place after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
This revealing -- even shocking -- story reveals that Homeland Security officials have not instituted new safeguards to stop other flight schools from enrolling illegal immigrants who could present national security threats. Pilots are actually licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but the agency relies on the TSA for criminal and immigration background checks. FAA officials claim that they don’t have the legal authority to revoke a pilot’s license for being in the country illegally, indicating that government bureaucracy is playing a role in the inexcusable security lapses.
The TSA, which has 55,000 employees, has compromised the nation’s security on many occasions and its lapses have been well documented over the years, according to officials at Judicial Watch. In the past, the TSA approved background checks for illegal immigrants to work in sensitive areas of busy airports, violated federal standards by not screening cargo and passengers on hundreds of thousands of planes that fly over the U.S. annually, and allowed guns and bombs to slip by at major U.S. airports during random integrity tests conducted by "Red Teams" who conduct undercover investigations seeking security vulnerabilities.
A few months ago inept screeners missed a suitcase filled with explosives that blasted after a three-hour domestic flight. Checked on a flight from Boston to Miami, the bag contained hundreds of bullet primers that exploded on the tarmac after the plane arrived in south Florida. Primers provide the spark that detonates the gunpowder in bullets.
In the meantime tax dollars keep pouring into TSA coffers. President Barack Obama has given the agency more than $3 billion in recovery funds -- including $98 million for “advanced technology X-ray units” that screen baggage -- and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants Congress to increase its 2013 budget by $459 million to a whopping $8.1 billion.
"It never ceases to amaze me that when purchasing a firearm, the government practically makes a citizen jump through hoops to make the purchase. But to fly a plane that may be used to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans is given such a low priority by Washington," said former NYPD detective and Marine intelligence officer Sid Franes. "We have the wrong people running national security in our country. They're either ignorant or careless or both," said Franes.
Jim Kouri writes for The Examiner, from where this article is adapted. He is the fifth Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and has served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the U.S.