Oh, well, then, we should never ever vet them! “Napolitano: “˜Historically” DHS Hasn’t Vetted U.S. Citizens Against No-Fly List Before They Take Flight Lessons,” by Edwin Mora for CNS News, July 25 (thanks to Ron):
(CNSNews.com) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers today that, historically, her department has chosen not to vet U.S. citizens against the no-fly list before they take flight lessons at American flight-training schools because the law that deals with screening such people is unclear.
However, when asked to comment on a Tranportation Security Administration (TSA) official who said that U.S. citizens on the no-fly list are not vetted prior to taking flight lessons, Napolitano said, back on July 19, that the official may not be aware of all the security precautions in place to stop a no-fly list person from getting a pilot’s license.
Maintained by the U.S. government’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), the no-fly list is comprised of individuals who are not allowed to board a commercial aircraft for travel in and out of the United States. The list, created in response to the 9/11 attacks, contains about 10,000 names, including that of U.S. citizens.
At a hearing today of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking-member of the committee, asked Napolitano, “Last week, we were told that American citizens can be trained to fly planes and not be vetted against the no-fly list. We were told that foreigners are vetted through a robust process — that would only start once they are cleared. The question was whether or not a process can be put where anyone, before they”re admitted into a flight school, would be vetted and the testimony from the department at that time was it couldn’t be done. Have you looked at that since that testimony was presented to this committee?”
“I have,” said Napolitano.
Rep. Thompson then asked, “What is your position on it?”
Napolitano said, “Well, the answer is yes, there’s a distinction between U.S. citizens and foreign persons who are seeking to get flight training. With respect to U.S. citizens who may be on one of our watch-lists, they”re a variety of ways that we can and do keep abreast of their activities.”
“I don’t want to go into those in open setting, but the law is somewhat unclear as to whether we can vet a U.S. citizen prior to their application for certification from the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration],” said Napolitano.
“So the department historically has taken the position that we cannot formally vet them, any U.S. citizen before that application,” she said.
Later, a ranking committee member said, “Right now, you also admit that that’s a problem,” in reference to the non-formal vetting of U.S. citizens on the no-fly list who want to attend flight school.
Napolitano said, “It can be a gap, but, again, let me just say it can be a gap that would be easily filled a number of ways and those for whom we actually have watch-list information, there’s a variety of ways we receive information about possible flight school training, but it would be nice to tidy up the law a little bit.”…
Yes, it would be so very nice!