All airline passengers now checked against terrorist watchlist
WASHINGTON—On June 7, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that 100 percent of passengers traveling within the United States and its territories are now being checked against terrorist watchlists.
All air travelers will have their name, date of birth and gender checked through the Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight program, an initiative intended to improve airline intelligence and awareness.
“This is really a continuum and it’s part of a vision about how to continue creating a greater and more capable vetting system,” said Mark Denari, business development and client solutions for SAIC and the former director of aviation security at the San Diego County Regional Airport. “Agencies like the TSA and FBI have strong initiatives about working more collaboratively and collectively to pass information to each other. It’s their responsibility to ensure this system of checking and vetting is servicing everyone’s needs and that it’s also crossing over as well.”
This initiative is a major step in fulfilling part of the recommendations from the Congressional 9/11 Commission Report. “This is part of the initiatives for post-9/11 to do more vetting and to ask questions so we know enough about individuals,” he said. “We are in the constant process of understanding who is in the system and who has access to the system and if people are clear to fly.”
Denari said he doesn’t expect this initiative to have much of an impact on airlines. The only problem he identified could come if the system didn’t recognize an individual or there were issues with how the data was entered.
The Transportation Security Administration began implementing Secure Flight in late 2009 and expects all international carriers with direct flights to the U.S. to begin using Secure Flight by the end of 2010, according to a DHS statement.