NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

SSA No Help in Identifying Potential Terrorists

November 8, 2001

Foreign terrorists illegally living in the U.S. have easily acquired Social Security numbers and the Social Security Administration (SSA) has not adequately assisted law-enforcement officers in detecting identity fraud. So concludes a still unreleased report by the SSA Inspector General obtained by the Washington Times.

The SSA IG says the agency does not have any programs "designed to assist in the detection of terrorist activity" -- even though the FBI, CIA and other security officials have said terrorists are operating in the country using false names and Social Security numbers.

  • Investigators have said they suspect 13 of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists obtained Social Security numbers allowing them to acquire Florida identification cards or driver's licenses.
  • Four persons are to stand trial in the next few months on charges of helping several Sept. 11 hijackers illegally obtain Virginia IDs and driver licenses -- which require Social Security numbers.
  • The report notes current "regulations prohibit the automatic disclosure of some information from SSA files to the Department of Justice or the FBI in connection with a terrorist investigation, even if the request comes in writing from the Attorney General."
  • IG officials were able to get authorization from the acting SSA commissioner to expedite the release of sensitive files -- but "coordinating the necessary authorizations required an expenditure of effort and hours that delayed investigative efforts," the report says.

Source: Daniel F. Drummond, "SSA Lacks Process to Prevent Fraud," Washington Times, November 8, 2001.


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