[JURIST] A terror watch list [FBI FAQ] designed to keep suspected terrorist from entering the United States through one of 324 points of entry is vague and ineffective, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] Inspector General Richard Skinner [official profile] said Monday. Skinner released an unclassified version of a report [PDF text] on actions taken to intercept suspected terrorists at US ports of entry, which found that travelers with names similar to those on the watch list can be questioned for hours and that officials often fail to report details of encounters with suspected terrorists, thereby wasting border officials time and harming intelligence analysis of suspected terrorists. Without proper reporting of each encounter with suspected terrorists and people with similar names, innocent travelers become subject to questioning by officials repeatedly [NYT report]. Skinner added that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) [official website] officers do not have the authority to make quick decisions about terror suspects because the lack security clearances to review information on suspects on the list.
Homeland Security spokesman Jarrod Agen disputed Skinner's findings, saying that Skinner's information is outdated and that CBP has already implemented new programs to increase the efficiency of clearing travelers to enter the US. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) [official website], the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee [official website], expressed disappointment [press release] that "weak leadership" in DHS "has left our border protection agents poorly armed to stop terrorist infiltration." AP has more.