Investigators Smuggle Bomb Materials Into 10 'High-Security' Federal Buildings
"In the past year, investigators successfully smuggled bomb-making materials into 10 high-security federal buildings, constructed bombs and walked around the buildings undetected, exposing weaknesses in security provided by the Federal Protective Service," The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe reports today in his Federal Eye column.
That disturbing new comes from a report by the Government Accountability Office -- a report that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs is going to hear more about at a hearing later this morning.
O'Keefe says investigators were able to get "liquid explosives and low-yield detonators" past guards and that among the locations were "offices of a U.S. senator and House member, as well as offices for the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State." (We added the bold.)
Update at 10:55 a.m. ET. Included in the prepared testimony of Mark Goldstein, the GAO's director of physical infrastructure issues is this photograph. GAO says it shows "an armed guard was found asleep at his post after taking the pain killer prescription drug Percocet during the night shift." The photo was taken at a "level IV facility," which is supposed to be among the most secure:
Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: The GAO's full report is now posted here. A summary is posted here. A particularly chilling passage from that summary:
GAO identified substantial security vulnerabilities related to (the Federal Protective Service's) guard program. GAO investigators carrying the components for an improvised explosive device successfully passed undetected through security checkpoints monitored by FPS's guards at each of the 10 level IV federal facilities where GAO conducted covert testing.
Of the 10 level IV facilities GAO penetrated, 8 were government owned, 2 were leased, and included offices of a U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative, as well as agencies such as the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Justice.
Once GAO investigators passed the control access points, they assembled the explosive device and walked freely around several of floors of these level IV facilities with the device in a briefcase. In response to GAO's briefing on these findings, FPS has recently taken some actions including increasing the frequency of intrusion testing and guard inspections. However, implementing these changes may be challenging, according to FPS.
Update at 9:40 a.m. ET: It looks like the committee will webcast the hearing here.
Update at 8:40 a.m. ET: The Associated Press is now on the story as well.