Thursday, March 19, 2009

How easy is it to get US passport with fake documents? Very easy, says the government

The USA Government Accountability Office (GAO) has discovered that it is alarmingly easy to get a US passport using forged documents.
GAO conducted four tests simulating this approach and was successful in obtaining a genuine U.S. passport in each case. In the most egregious case, an undercover GAO investigator obtained a passport using counterfeit documents and the Social Security Number (SSN) of a man who died in 1965. In another case, the investigator obtained a passport using counterfeit documents and the genuine SSN of a fictitious 5-year-old child GAO created for a previous investigation—even though the investigator’s counterfeit documents and application indicated he was 53 years old. All four passports were issued to the same GAO investigator, under four different names.
The tests were conducted between May 2008 and March 2009, so these security lapses are very recent. The length of time between application and passport issuance was 1-8 days only.

See the full report

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day today!

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh (Happy St. Patrick's Day - in Irish). I moved to the US from Ireland 15 years ago, and I am still amazed at the way Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day (March 17). I can't imagine Irish people wearing bacdges on July 4th saying "Kiss me, I'm American!" St. Patrick's Day is a far bigger celebration here than it is in Ireland, though the Irish celebrate more than when I left in 1994. It's still more of an arts festival in Ireland, rather than the drinking festival it is here (at least in Dallas!). If interested, check out the website for the Dublin St. Patrick's Festival.

And yes, that is me in the center of the photo, after running the Chicago marathon in 2004. Some of my family came to watch, and clearly didn't want to blend into the crowd!