100 More Analysts to Focus on 'No-Fly' List

Thursday, 11 Mar 2010 09:14 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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In response to the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has asked Congress for funds to hire 100 more analysts to focus exclusively on placing individuals on the terrorist watch list and the “No-Fly” list, Newsmax has learned.

In the next few weeks, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is expected to release an unclassified version of its report on the intelligence breakdowns that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 bound for Detroit.

The Nigerian man’s father had warned U.S. officials that his son had fallen prey to radical Islam and had said he would never see his family again.

The NCTC determines whether an individual should be placed on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, which lists about 550,000 individuals, addresses, and objects such as cars and weapons.

From that list, the FBI develops the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), from which consular, border, and airline watch lists are drawn.

The Transportation Security Administration maintains its own “No-Fly” list of about 4,000 people prohibited from boarding any domestic or U.S.-bound aircraft. Another list names about 14,000 “selectees” who require additional scrutiny but are not banned from flying.

Budgets and staffing requests of intelligence agencies like the NCTC are classified. While declining to comment on specific funding requests, Sen. Kit Bond, the Missouri Republican who is vice chairman of the Senate committee, tells Newsmax the committee is working on giving the NCTC the resources it needs.

“The 9/11 Commission pointed out that the appropriations process needs to be integrated with the intelligence oversight,” Bond says. “And I have been trying fruitlessly to get a separate intel subcommittee on appropriations that would look just at the needs of the intelligence community. There’s a need for coordinating the entire national security budget across departments and across committees.”

Bond says the Obama administration still must take steps to better integrate intelligence that might pinpoint potential threats who should be placed on watch lists.

“You still need to have better integration of all of the intelligence sources with the ‘No-Fly’ list, including trying to get the State Department to act to revoke visas,” Bond says. “We’ve got to do a better linkup to make sure that the information on people who may be terrorists gets to the State Department. It needs to get to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It needs to get to the people who can keep those people from getting on a damn plane in the first place.”

Bond commended the administration and intelligence community for undertaking more Predator drone aircraft strikes against terrorists.

“Killing them is good, but we need to be capturing them so we can question them and find out,” Bond says. Because of a court ruling in Pakistan, the Pakistanis have not been turning over captured terrorists for interrogation by either the United States or Afghanistan.

“Interrogation of detainees is a vital component, and we’re missing that,” he says. In general, “The administration has no policy for how we deal with terrorists that are captured by us or our allies, to get the information we need. We can kill them, no problem with that. But sometimes taking them alive and getting their information is far more important.”

The administration’s attitude toward terrorists is “oh well, we’ll try them and then we’ll parole them back to their home country,” Bond says. “If they’re going to send committed terrorists back, rather than giving them an all-expense-paid trip back to the battlefield, we ought to let them swim.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.


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