FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Call for Action investigation uncovers our country may not be any safer more than a decade after 9-11. That's from a report we found by the Government Accountability Office.
Republican Representative Mike Rogers from Alabama questioned GAO employee Stephen Lord about his office's findings.
"Based on your report, the Transportation Security Administration cannot assure the American people that foreign terrorists are not in this country learning how to fly airplanes. Yes or no?" asked Representative Rogers.
"At this time, at this time, no," replied Lord.
A troubling admission from the GAO. What they found: terrorists may still be able to get flight training in the U.S.
The GAO looked over nearly 30,000 foreign nationals who received training from U.S. flight programs and found that some of them were in this country illegally and that some weren't vetted by the TSA before taking flight classes.
"It's completely unacceptable that a decade after 9/11, GAO has uncovered weaknesses in our security controls that were supposed to be fixed a decade ago," said Representative Rogers on Capitol Hill.
Also upset by this finding, Southwest Florida resident Rudi Dekkers. Rudi owned and operated "Huffman Aviation," the Venice flight school where two of the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons.
Dekkers, who testified in front of congress after 9/11, talked to WINK News last year to mark ten years since the terrorist attacks. We reached out to Dekkers again today after the government report came out.
"We cannot have any tolerance here. We need to have a zero tolerance policy," Dekkers told us.
The report looked at the TSA's "Alien Flight Student Program" which was put into place after 9/11 to find out whether foreign students signing up at flight schools pose a security threat. Their names are supposed to be put into a TSA database but the GAO found some of weren't. The report also found that some of the foreigners who were in the database, were not fully vetted.
The other weakness found in the report, the TSA's program was not designed to determine whether foreigners were in the country legally.
In 2010 immigration officials found eight illegal residents who had been approved for flight training at a Boston school.
Since then, the TSA and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement started work on a pilot program to keep illegals out of flight schools, but it's still a work in progress.
The TSA and the FAA also agreed back in February to better exchange information about pilots and foreigners requesting to become FAA certified.