- Arkansas voter ID law struck down by state judge
- FDA proposes ban on e-cigarette sales to minors
- Bad omen? Italian man crushed to death by John Paul II crucifix
- Company stopped from accepting abortion waste
- Girl surprises Michelle Obama with unemployed dad’s resume
- ‘Harry Potter’ religion class seeks to enlighten students on ‘God, sin, and theodicy’
- ‘Optionally piloted’ Black Hawk helicopter clears tests; future missions to go ‘fully unmanned’
- Vice News reporter kidnapped in Ukraine is freed after being beaten, blindfolded
- FCC’s new ‘net neutrality’ proposal sparks outrage among consumer advocates
- Families of ferry’s lost confront South Korean officials
System separates terror suspects, namesakes
Customs and Border Protection officials say they have introduced a new procedure for travelers who have the same name as a suspected terrorist, to help ensure that innocents are not stopped and questioned every time they enter the country merely because of such coincidences.
The move is a response to criticism of the agency’s procedures, which the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general said resulted in repeated questioning of individuals who were not on the U.S. government’s watch list of known or suspected terrorists, but had the same or similar name as someone who was.
“It’s enlightened self-interest,” said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman Bill Anthony. “It is obviously better for [the individuals concerned], but it is also in our interest.”
CBP screens 1.1 million would-be entrants to the United States every day — citizens, visitors and immigrants. Its job is to filter out would-be illegal migrants, as well as terrorists or other malefactors, while facilitating the swift movement of legitimate travelers.
“If we’re pulling people who are innocent into secondary,” Mr. Anthony explained, referring to the more lengthy immigration interview that those on the watch list — and anyone else who attracts special interest at the borders or ports — go through, “it is a waste of time. We should be looking for bad guys,” not people already ruled out as a threat.
The inspector general’s office had no comment on the changes. Mr. Anthony said the new procedures were not designed to be transparent.
“You’re not told. You’re not supposed to know you are on the watch list,” so agency officials do not inform people of the correction.
He said all kinds of information — like nationality, date of birth or physical characteristics — could be used to distinguish the innocent traveler from the suspected terrorist with the same name.
In most cases, he said, it was “a combination of factors.”
He added that the procedures were “internal” and affected only the agency’s own database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System, known as TECS. The information would be entered into the system “in such a way that they will not get put into secondary on that basis again.”
He said that the procedures were not designed to replace the redress procedures for individuals wrongly watch-listed or mistakenly identified as a watch-listed person. “People still have the right to complain,” Mr. Anthony said.
And he acknowledged that the corrections will not appear on the U.S. government’s centralized terrorist watch list, formally known as the Terrorism Screening Database. That list is maintained by the FBI-led interagency Terrorism Screening Center.
By Tammy Bruce
Only IRS employees could expect rewards for failing to pay their taxes
- Holder cancels appearance in OKC amid angry protests
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Nevada rancher's racial remarks cost him range of support
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014