U.S. Passport Security Endangered

For Immediate Release

U.S. Passport Security Endangered

WASHINGTON - 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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