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Feds Finally Close Terrorist Loophole … Except It Took Eight Years

REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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Mark Tapscott Executive Editor, Chief of Investigative Group
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It took eight years, a critical inspectors general report, and an investigation from The Daily Caller News Foundation for the head of the General Services Administration to admit that terrorists could easily counterfeit the security badges employees use to get into supposedly secure government locations.

Administrator Denise Roth told TheDCNF through a spokesman Friday that her agency is “discontinuing the practice of issuing building-specific local badges” that make thousands of federal buildings vulnerable to terrorists and active shooters.

“Additionally, in our position at the Interagency Security Committee, GSA will encourage other agencies to avoid the use of building-specific badges and find more secure ways to manage physical access,” the spokesman said.

Even if GSA implements Roth’s decision on an emergency basis, the vulnerabilities the badges create will remain for months, possibly even years.

That prospect deeply worries Stephen Coughlin, former chief adviser to the Department of Defense on radical Islamic law, philosophy and strategies.

“At a time when we are engaged in a war on terror that includes deep penetration operations that target government personnel and facilities, what you see here is the virtual collapse of a counter-terror/counter intelligence mindset by those charged with that mission,” Coughlin told TheDCNF.

Roth also said the federal government’s housekeeping agency is “requiring more intensive training of employees responsible for administering contracts; and instituting new rules and policies to prevent” such violence, and “is confident that these actions … should reduce the risks identified by the IG.”

Roth’s decision followed TheDCNF’s post Thursday reporting that “thousands of federal buildings are in danger of having ‘an active shooter, terrorist attack, or theft of government property’ because the General Services Administration (GSA) has ignored an eight-year old order to stop issuing ID badges that are easily counterfeited.'”

TheDCNF story was based on an IG report made public the same day.

The flawed badges are routinely issued at many of the 9,600 facilities operated by the agency, including courthouses, ports of entry, laboratories and data centers that are critical to the government’s daily operation. Each facility’s badge is unique and their design makes them an inviting target for terrorists looking for ways to compromise government facilities.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive eight years ago instructing federal agencies to stop issuing the badges and adopt a standard design with significant security enhancements.

Roth declined to respond Friday when TheDCNF asked if she was aware of the problem when she became GSA’s chief in 2015. She also declined to respond when TheDCNF asked if any GSA employees have or will be disciplined or fired as a result of the eight-year delay in complying with the Homeland Security directive.

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