- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The government’s new central database for terror suspects is missing names, and those omissions increase the risk a terrorist could go undetected in the U.S., the Justice Department’s inspector general says.

In addition, in one instance last year, someone on the government’s no-fly list was let aboard a domestic airline flight because of poor coordination between the FBI-run Terrorist Screening Center and other law-enforcement agencies, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said yesterday.

?There is little room for error because a single name omitted from the [database] could result in a suspected terrorist successfully applying for a visa, being admitted to the United States, or failing to be identified when stopped for a traffic violation,? Mr. Fine wrote in a 184-page report on an audit that was conducted between April and November last year.

Mr. Fine also found some names that were included in the database mistakenly. Still, he praised the ambitious effort to merge about a dozen terrorist watch lists from nine agencies. He called it a ?significant accomplishment? that the consolidated list was up and running just a few months after President Bush created the center in a September 2003 order.

He noted that the quality of the work has improved as officials solved some problems and refined the database.

Donna Bucella, the center’s director, said problems identified by Mr. Fine have been corrected, and noted that she requested the audit.

?The consolidated database is up to date and contains all known or suspected terrorists,? she said, adding that more than 16,000 matches have been made.

The center was designed as a one-stop shop that any government official — from a customs agent at an airport to a state trooper watching for speeders — can consult to check the name of someone who has been screened or stopped.

The merged databases include the Transportation Security Administration’s ?no-fly? list of terror suspects barred from air travel; the State Department’s massive Tipoff list, which is checked when visas are issued; and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center list of convicted felons, fugitives and other wanted people used by police nationwide.


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