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GAO report finds weak vetting of foreign students at US flight schools

More than 25,000 foreign nationals received pilot training before being vetted against terrorist screening databases, analysis finds.

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(AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Measures meant to weed out flight school students who pose security risks have some serious flaws, the Government Accountability Office said today.

In spite of beefed-up post-9/11 screening measures, some foreign students seeking to become pilots in the US are not being properly vetted, according to the GAO. In testimony before a subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security, the GAO blamed the Transportation Security Administration for failing to keep proper databases of background checks and for neglecting to screen more than 25,000 foreign students prior to their training at US schools.

This means that even individuals on government no-fly lists could potentially be training in the US to become pilots, the Associated Press reported.

The individuals responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks learned to fly at schools in Florida, Arizona, and Minnesota, according to the GAO.

The report also found that some students training to be pilots are in the US illegally, CNN reported. That includes at least eight who trained in 2010 at a flight school whose owner was himself in the country illegally, according to the Boston Globe.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120718/gao-report-finds-weak-vetting-foreign-students-a