Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The House overwhelmingly adopted legislation this week mandating the creation of a new kind of terrorist watchlist: a database of people who aren't terrorists, but are routinely flagged at airports anyway.
The U.S. government maintains a list of about a million names of suspected terrorists that is crosschecked with passenger names ahead of airline boarding. The list has been dogged for years by sloppy name matches that have ensnared innocent travelers, children, prominent politicians and government officials, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' secretary of education and all men named David Nelson.
Under the new plan, approved late Tuesday 413-3, innocent victims of the terrorist watchlist must prove to the Department of Homeland Security, through an undetermined appeals process, that they are not terrorists. They would then get their names put on what the legislation calls the "Comprehensive Cleared List."
The legislation is another attempt to assist wrongly flagged passengers and would supersede the troubled DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, which has been criticized for being slow or unresponsive to flier complaints.
The FAST Redress Act, if approved by the Senate, requires the government to report within 240 days on its progress in implementing the new list.
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