FBI failing to maintain accurate terrorist watchlist: DOJ report

[JURIST] The FBI [official website] has failed to maintain an accurate and effective terrorist watchlist [FBI FAQ] by failing to include known terrorism suspects and to remove records of people that have been cleared, according to a report [text, PDF] by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) [official websites]. The report, released last Wednesday, contains the results of an audit conducted in 2008, which found, "that the FBI failed to nominate many subjects in the terrorism investigations that we sampled, did not nominate many others in a timely fashion, and did not update or remove watchlist records as required." The audit also found that, "several persons with names matching the subjects who were not watchlisted or who were untimely watchlisted attempted to cross U.S. borders during the period the names were not watchlisted." The report contained 16 recommendations, which include:

establishing timeframe requirements for headquarters units to process watchlist nominations, modifications, and removals; creation of a process to modify and remove known or suspected terrorists placed on the watchlist by CJIS and Legal Attachés; and re-evaluation of the watchlist records that are not sourced to a current terrorism case.
FBI Assistant Director John Miller [official profile] responded [press release] that the FBI "remain[s] committed to improving our watchlist policy and practices to ensure the proper balance between national security protection and the need for accurate, efficient and streamlined watchlisting processes."

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] said [press release] that the terrorist watchlist is too large [JURIST report], contains inaccuracies, and should include more safeguards to prevent the unnecessary targeting of passengers for additional security screenings. In March 2008, the OIG issued a report [text, PDF] saying that FBI had submitted inaccurate information to the list [JURIST report], that the information was rarely reviewed before its submission, and even if discrepancies become apparent they were often left unchanged. In response to the audit, Miller said that the agency was working with the DOJ and other partner agencies [press release] to "ensure the proper balance between national security protection and the need for accurate, efficient, and streamlined watchlist processes."

 

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