Who Is to Blame for the Inefficient Terror Watch List?

July 28, 2008 08:51 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
The U.S. terror watch list has kept thousands of innocent travelers from boarding flights, but are airlines or the government to blame for the system’s flaws?

30-Second Summary

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee Kip Hawley said, “some airlines have elected not to do what we would like to see them do, which is take care of innocent passengers and not inconvenience them.”

However, according to MSNBC, a passenger-representation group said rather than pointing fingers at airlines, the TSA should have taken responsibility for the pre-screening process associated with the watch list from the start.

The Air Travelers Association’s David Stempler said, “Airline security should always have been a government responsibility.” The federal government will take over the list’s screening process next year.

Regardless of who is to blame, passengers are suffering the consequences. According to NPR, people have been wrongly pegged as individuals on the terror watch list at least 50,000 times.

Not even government officials are safe from the system’s inefficiencies. Senator Edward Kennedy was blocked from flying five times in 2007 “because his name resembled an alias used by a suspected terrorist,” reported the New York Times.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been outspoken regarding the terror watch list, openly blaming the Bush administration’s “unfair, out-of-control” approach to security.

Barry Steinhardt, the director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program said the terror watch list, which swelled to one million names in July 2008, is “a waste of resources, treats the rights of the innocent as an afterthought, and is a very real impediment in the lives of millions of travelers in this country.” 

Headline Link: Airlines bear brunt of blame

Background: Thousands delayed by list

Related Topic: No one is immune

Opinion & Analysis: Security overkill?


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