- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The FBI has upgraded its system of providing names for the nation’s terrorist watch list over the past three years but still gave outdated, incomplete and inaccurate information on many of those added to the list, a government report said yesterday.

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General said in a 37-page report that while the FBI had established criteria and quality controls to assist in developing accurate watch-list nominations, it was not always providing updated nominations when new information became known and was not always removing records from the watch list when it was appropriate to do so.

A total of 8,240 names have been formally processed as watch-list nominations since 2005.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, noting that the FBI was the only Justice Department component that formally nominated known or suspected terrorists for inclusion on the terrorist watch list, said the process caused delays due to incomplete or inaccurate nominations from FBI field offices.

Mr. Fine also said FBI field offices had, at times, bypassed FBI headquarters and submitted nominations directly to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which “could result in the watch listing of individuals without an FBI quality review and could also affect the completeness of the FBI’s records that are maintained to support its watch-list nominations.”

He said terrorist-related intelligence reports prepared by the FBI were disseminated throughout the intelligence community — and while the bureau did not intend for them to be official nominations, NCTC officials considered the information to constitute official watch-list nominations.

“As a result, NCTC created watch-list records from these reports and sourced them to the FBI,” Mr. Fine said. “However, because the FBI was not aware of this NCTC practice, the FBI was not monitoring the records to ensure that they were updated or removed when necessary.”

FBI Assistant Director John Miller said the bureau is working with the Justice Department and other agencies to evaluate the IG’s recommendations “to ensure the proper balance between national security protection and the need for accurate, efficient and streamlined watch-listing processes.

“Where the OIG identified problems in the nomination process and made recommendations, many of those improvements have already been developed and will be implemented over the next six months,” Mr. Miller said.

“We will always strive for continued improvement in the conduct of FBI task force coordination and watch-listing processes,” he said. “We remain committed to working with the Department of Justice to increase coordination and to find best practices aimed at providing service and safety for our nation.”

The IG’s report noted that the U.S. government maintains a consolidated terrorist watch list as a key component of its counterterrorism efforts. The list is maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center and was created by merging previously separate watch lists maintained by several agencies.

The report said that while Justice Department components are heavily involved in watch listing and actively share terrorist information, the activities have been developed independently and are not coordinated by the department.

The report listed seven recommendations to upgrade the process, all of which were endorsed by the FBI.

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