Magazine article Insight on the News

GAO Hits Security Lapses, but Press Ignores Wiretaps

Magazine article Insight on the News

GAO Hits Security Lapses, but Press Ignores Wiretaps

Article excerpt

There appears to be no end to lax security here in America's capital. The State Department, the Pentagon and even the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Va., and the FBI's famed J. Edgar Hoover building in downtown Washington easily are penetrated. Or so say investigators from the congressional watchdog, the General Accounting Office.

With phony law-enforcement credentials snatched off the Internet, GAO agents were able to roam at will in 19 major government buildings and enter the private suites of more than a dozen senior officials, including the offices of Defense Secretary William Cohen and Attorney General Janet Reno.

Some of the results of the undercover operation were reported in major daily newspapers, including Insight's sister publication the Washington Times. In response to the GAO findings, the FBI promised to tighten security -- that's the same FBI that has been proclaiming since the Oklahoma City bombing how it has improved security at federal buildings around the country.

Not only was the security at government buildings found wanting by the GAO. At Reagan National Airport the undercover agents carried unsearched briefcases past security guards and without having their IDs checked were granted permits allowing them to carry weapons on flights.

In pledging to correct the security failings at the J. Edgar Hoover building, the FBI said it was basing its action "on recommendations received from the crime subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. …

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