77ºF

Congress members: Lack of security at anti-terrorism training facility merits investigation

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls ease of access 'potential terrorist threats'

MONTROSS, Va. – Two hours away from the White House, the Pentagon and the Capitol building, there's a little town trying to get the attention of the nation’s most powerful politicians. Now, they have it.

Local 10 News showed U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., video from a Local 10 News investigation into a private facility in Virginia. The State Department uses it to train foreign police in weapons and explosives.

Ros-Lehtinen knows the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program well. Her foreign affairs committee appropriates funds for it each year. 

What she didn't know was that a news crew could walk right through an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms training facility without being detected and get right up to containers storing bombs.

"You actually drove your car into the facility? You walked through an open gate and the explosives were right there?" asked the congresswoman.

"Correct," said Local 10's Sasha Andrade.

Bill O'Gara is the founder of the facility in question. He argued that his explosive storage containers are safe, locked and ATF-certified. He also mentioned the posted signs to keep people out of the explosives area.

"Even if there were a no trespassing sign, who's going to honor that?" said Ros-Lehtinen.

She and the people with whom Local 10 spoke in Montross agree that it’s not enough, particularly when foreigners from countries with deep-rooted ties to terrorism are training there.

“These aren't problems. These are potential terrorist threats a few miles from the Capitol," said Ros-Lehtinen.

Local 10 also told members of Congress about the story crews kept hearing from the locals in Montross, where trainees skipped out on the program and left town.

"They left," said Annette Hamilton, who lives in the area.

"It's outrageous," said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.

He and Ros-Lehtinen agreed that it merits a federal investigation.

"We have an obligation to look into all of these issues, and to do it right away," Deutch said.