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1/19/2007
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Watch The Watch List

The Transportation Security Administration is cleaning up its data in a move expected to cut the number of people kept from flying because they're mistaken for a terrorist suspect.

The agency responsible for compiling the No Fly List is doing a "name- by-name review" that'll be done by mid-February, TSA director Kip Hawley told a Senate committee last week. That should cut the list in half.

The No Fly List aims to identify people considered too dangerous to be allowed on commercial flights. Another list, the Selectee List, cites people who need to undergo more vigorous security screening. That list also will be pared by about half.

The lists have been widely criticized. A September 2006 Government Accountability Office report found that between December 2003 and January 2006 about half of the "tens of thousands" of names security agencies sent to the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center were misidentifications.

There also are changes afoot in another anti-terrorism program. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders, said the government's Terrorist Surveillance Program, used to monitor international calls of al-Qaida suspects, will be overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It had operated without judicial oversight.

Both moves should give law-abiding citizens a bit more reason to trust the tools being used to fight terrorism.

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