WASHINGTON — Working undercover, congressional investigators gained unauthorized access to four Atlanta federal buildings and easily sneaked briefcases and packages past security checkpoints.
One investigator obtained two different security badges and a guard's after-hours access code, according to a General Accounting Office report obtained Monday by Associated Press. One pass allowed the investigator to carry a firearm in the buildings.
The report, to be discussed today at a congressional hearing in Atlanta, raises questions about security at federal buildings in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"This is pretty alarming," said Rep. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), chairman of the House Intelligence homeland security subcommittee.
"Obviously, it's extremely difficult to get your arms around all the vulnerabilities out there from a threat standpoint, but you would think our federal agencies would be paying more attention to in-house matters than they are."
During February and March, GAO investigators were able to bypass X-ray machines and other security devices, carrying items that could have been explosives, chemical weapons or listening devices, according to Ronald Malfi, acting director for the GAO's Office of Special Investigations.
One agent entered the building without any identification and convinced a General Services Administration employee to issue him a building pass and after-hours access code. The next day, he was able to upgrade that pass to one allowing him to carry weapons.
Both passes were then counterfeited, using commercial software, and other agents were able to enter the buildings with the bogus passes, which included their photographs and fictitious names.