Showcasing a lack of stunning incompetence, it has came to light that hundreds of badges, credentials, cell phones and guns have disappeared from several agencies attached to the Department of Homeland Security.
According to inventory reports obtained via Freedom of information Act requests pertaining to a 31 month period between 2012 and 2015, over 1,300 badges, 165 firearms and 589 cell phones have gone missing.
The reports show that the majority of the credentials that vanished belonged to employees of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), while others belonged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees.
The lost or stolen guns also mostly belonged to CBP employees, the reports say, though others were cited as belonging to TSA and ICE workers. All associated agencies fall under DHS.
“It’s scary that you’d have that number of credentials out there that someone could manipulate,” retired Secret Service special agent Tim Miller said, who also asserted the revelations lend credibility to serious security concerns amongst federal law enforcement groups.
The DHS maintains that the phones have enough security protocols in place to prevent tampering, but Miller said the badges and credentials could be utilized to allow access to sensitive areas within the agencies.
“The thing that’s particularly concerning is that if you get real credentials, it’s very easy to manipulate them, and you’ve got someone else’s picture on what law enforcement would see as valid,” Miller said. “Then you factor in terrorism, it’s a significant concern that people would run around with authentic credentials and be able to access areas they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”
The DHS has not disputed the lost, damaged and destroyed report data but said they strive to be “good stewards of government resources” and have improved oversight and reduced the number of lost or stolen items in recent years.
“If a credential holder loses or has their credentials stolen, the holder must report the incident to their supervisor and credential issuance office immediately,” DHS spokesman Justin Greenberg said. “Once the incident has been reported, this information is entered into appropriate DHS and law enforcement databases, which disables use of the lost or stolen item.”
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