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Terrorist watch list incomplete and inaccurate

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An internal audit of the US' Terrorist Screening Center has found that the terrorist watch list used to screen travellers and visa applicants is based on incomplete and inaccurate information.

The facility, run by the FBI, was also criticised for poor management of its IT, and failure to recruit and retain sufficiently qualified technical staff. For example, although the facility opened for business in 2003, it did not appoint a CIO until August 2004. By this time, many important IT decisions had already been made.

In a 184 page report, Inspector General Glenn Fine wrote: "While the [Terrorist Screening Database] is constantly evolving, we found that the management of its information technology, a critical part of the terrorist screening process, has been deficient."

The Justice Department also warns that the omission of names from the list makes it more likely that a terrorist will go undetected in the US, and that duplicate records could lead to important information about a visa applicant being missed.

Fine also noted that the organisation had managed to consolidate the various watch lists held by different government agencies, but added that the information had not been verified as complete or accurate:

"We found instances where the consolidated database did not contain names that should have been included on the watch list. In addition, we found inaccurate information related to persons included in the database," the report said. ®

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