GAO investigators successfully get radioactive material through U.S. borders

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, July 6, 2006

WASHINGTON--In testimony before the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, the U.S. Government Accountability Office detailed its ability to get radioactive material into the United States under false pretenses, "enough radioactive sources in the trunks of their vehicles to make two dirty bombs." While Customs and Border Patrol agents correctly identified the radioactive material and questioned the GAO investigators, they did not identify the investigators' identification and documentation as counterfeit.
The GAO posed as a fictitious company, had the material mailed to them in small enough amounts that documentation from the federal government wasn't required, then consolidated the material and sought to bring it across the border in two locations, simultaneously. Both attempts were stopped and inspected, but "GAO investigators were able to successfully represent themselves as employees of a fictitious company, present a counterfeit bill of lading and a counterfeit [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] document during the secondary inspections at both locations. The CBP inspectors never questioned the authenticity of the investigators' counterfeit bill of lading or the counterfeit NRC document authorizing them to receive, acquire, possess and transfer radioactive sources."
The GAO reported these findings to the subcommittee as part of an ongoing investigation testing whether radioactive sources could be smuggled across United States borders.