DECEMBER 06, 2006
The massive federal agency created after the 2001 terrorist attacks to patrol the nation’s borders and guard it against terrorism is infested with criminal employees who regularly commit fraud, theft and smuggling.
In its short history the Department of Homeland Security has battled widespread corruption from within and the problem seems to be growing. A lengthy report filed with Congress this week details the severe misconduct of many of the agency’s 180,000 employees.
The report, published by Homeland Security’s Inspector General, lists an array of illegal behavior on the part of U.S. Government employees, ranging from immigration officials exchanging sex for visas, airport screeners stealing money from tourists’ luggage, federal air marshals smuggling drugs and other agency employees distributing child pornography.
In a six-month period this year more than 300 Homeland Security employees were arrested and 243 were convicted. They included Transportation Security Administration screeners taking jewelry and cash from luggage, another agent smuggling $80,000 into the country and two federal air marshals accepting bribes to smuggle cocaine through various airports. Also arrested were two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who sold alcohol and cigarettes to illegal immigrants in their custody.
This isn’t the first scathing report detailing the severe problems at the department, which was created in 2002 by unifying various existing agencies in an effort to secure the nation. Many other reports critical about mismanagement, security flaws and the wasting of millions of taxpayer dollars have been published in the past. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security’s first Inspector general, Clark Ervin, lost his job for thoroughly investigating the agency and exposing its many flaws.
Ervin has remained a big critic of the department and he even launched an informative web site, Open Target, that features reports and inside information on various homeland security issues. Ervin has called the Department of Homeland Security dysfunctional and disingenuous and has accused it of not conducting criminal background checks for the very employees who supposedly guard the nation.
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