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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2010
2:59 PM

U.S. Passport Security Endangered

WASHINGTON - June 14 - Key components of high-tech American "e-passports" are assembled at a manufacturing plant in Thailand with precious little security, according to inspection reports obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News.

The U.S. Government Printing Office, the agency charged with producing the new e-Passports, has been warned repeatedly since 2006 by its own security officer that the Thai manufacturing site posed a "potential long term risk to the USG (U.S. government's) interests," according to the reports.

The sweeping concerns ranged from the political instability of Thailand and difficulty in getting security background checks for factory workers to poor police protection.  And that country is just one of several serious vulnerabilities to the e-Passport production system flagged recently by the agency's internal watchdog.

GPO's inspector general found the agency lacks even the most basic security plans for ensuring that blank e-Passports -- and their highly sought technologies -- remain safe from terrorists, foreign spies, counterfeiters and other bad actors as they wind through an unwieldy manufacturing process that spans the globe and includes 60 different suppliers.

"What our joint investigation with ABC News found is that the e-passport system is in many ways a sugar pill that hasn't provided the sort of protection that Americans were promised," said Center Executive Director Bill Buzenberg. "Five years later, many U.S. entry points don't even have scanners to read the electronic passport and the government's commitment to securing the manufacturing process for its sensitive components was lax from the very start."

Read about passport security here.

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The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy. We are committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world.


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