The FBI Steps Up Efforts to Fix Terrorist Watchlist Errors

The FBI is promising new efforts by its Terrorist Screening Center to cut down on problems with the terrorist watch list.

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The FBI is promising new efforts by its Terrorist Screening Center to cut down on problems with the terrorist watch list. The new program is an attempt to address the long-standing criticism from inside and outside the government that the terrorist watch list is riddled with errors.

Until now, the Terrorist Screening Center reviewed records that led to a misidentification of someone on the watchlist only if a formal review was requested. But there have been significant problems with mismatches that have at times barred people from flying. Under the new program, known as the Terrorist Encounter Review Process, the center will automatically review records leading to frequently misidentified individuals in an effort to make certain the information is accurate and whether the individual should remain on the watchlist. In addition, the program will review records of other individuals whose names are frequently accessed or for whom there is an inconclusive identification. The program will also review whether there is any new information to add to a record that would help reduce the possibility of misidentifications. "The Terrorist Watchlist has become a very effective counterterrorism tool and the new TERP program will help ensure we have the best information to appropriately handle known or suspected terrorists while reducing adverse effects on persons misidentified as watchlist subjects," Leonard Boyle, the center's director said in a statement. The changes are consistent with recommendations from the Justice Department's inspector general.

—Emma Schwartz