Keeping Terrorists Out of America By Unifying Terrorist Watch Lists: Ten Requirements for an Effective Terrorist Screening Center   [open pdf - 265KB]

The lack of an integrated terrorist watch list has long been described as a critical shortfall in homeland security and the war against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Unfortunately, in the two years following September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration has failed to demonstrate effective leadership in developing a unified terrorist watch list system that can be used across agencies and by local law enforcement and border control officers. Even before September 11, 2001, information on terrorist suspects was disorganized and poorly used. Two of the September 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al- Hazmi, should have been placed on watch lists on at least three occasions.1 The effective use and dissemination of accurate watch lists information would likely have allowed authorities to prevent these two from boarding American Airlines flight 77, which was flown into the Pentagon. Effective use of this important tool could have curtailed the destruction witnessed by the entire world on that terrible day. Promptly and fully implementing a robust, agile, and comprehensive terrorist screening capability is critical to our national security. The men and women on the front lines of border protection must have the ability to determine if the individual they are inspecting is a suspected terrorist. They must know this before the individual enters the country, and must be advised on what action to take. Officials at our embassies reviewing visa applications; customs and immigration inspectors at air, land, and sea ports of entry; and law enforcement officials patrolling our streets need prompt access to terrorist watch list information. Any time that our government is not able to provide this basic national security function is a time when America is at greater risk than it should be from the threat of global terrorism.

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Retrieved From:
Homeland Security Committee Democrats http://www.house.gov/hsd/democrats/
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