JULY 08, 2009
Nearly eight years after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, security at the nation’s federal buildings is so dismal that government investigators easily smuggled explosive materials into ten facilities and constructed lethal devices that they carried around undetected.
This clearly indicates that the Homeland Security agency charged with protecting the increasingly vulnerable public buildings, the Federal Protective Service (FPS), is not doing its job of securing 9,000 facilities around the country despite a $1 billion annual budget, 1,200 full-time employees and 13,000 contract security guards.
Their performance was tested by congressional investigators who found that most of the FPS guards working at some of the nation’s top federal facilities lack proper training and are negligent in carrying out their responsibilities. Incredibly, the explosives were smuggled in at Level IV (the busiest and supposedly securest) facilities in four major U.S. cities.
The exact locations were not revealed in a report, made public this week, for security reasons. The congressional probe also found that the FPS doesn’t make sure that its guards are properly qualified to do the job, with less than half possessing the appropriate certification. This lack of training has led to appalling incidents, such as a guard asleep on the job after taking a potent painkiller and another who failed to recognize a box carrying handguns on an X-ray machine.
The FPS currently has contracts with 67 companies for guard services, but it’s ultimately the agency’s responsibility to assure they are properly trained and credentialed. In thousands of cases, the FPS didn’t bother checking the qualifications of the personnel guarding many of the country’s top federal facilities, however.
At the supposedly high security buildings that investigators smuggled explosives, guards failed to detect the materials even though the brief cases that stored them went through the conveyer belt of the X-ray machine. At three of the ten facilities, guards didn’t even bother looking at the X-ray machine as the explosives slipped by.
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