June 1, 2012
The number of U.S. citizens and green card holders on the FBI’s terror watch list has more than doubled since Christmas 2009, when the attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit exposed flaws in the list and gaps in how government agencies used the information to screen potential security threats.
In a report released Friday, the Government Accountability Office said that watch list data collected from January 2009 through May 2011 showed that “more individuals have been denied boarding aircraft or subjected to additional physical screening before boarding” by the Transportation Security Administration. The report did not provide an exact figure for the increase.
The GAO said “hundreds more” foreign citizens were kept off flights after U.S. Customs and Border Protection “determined they would likely be deemed inadmissible upon arrival at a U.S. airport.” In addition, the State Department revoked hundreds of visas shortly after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s botched attempt to ignite explosives in his underwear “because it determined that the individuals could present an immediate threat to the United States.”
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