Nearly two years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, key federal agencies have not consolidated a dozen separate “watch lists” intended to keep terrorists out of the country, even though sharing that kind of information might have caught two of the suicide hijackers before they carried out their plot. The Department of Homeland Security says it is working to combine lists of potential security risks maintained by at least nine agencies, but it has no timetable for finishing the job. Officials say critics underestimate the complexity of the task, especially technical problems involving computers and databases not designed to share information. They add that it is important to verify accuracy among lists that often name the same person with different spellings, birth dates or hometowns. If federal agencies had been sharing information and using a master watch list, “then 9/11 might not have happened,” says Ivo Daalder, a homeland-security expert at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington. “I find it criminal that it hasn’t happened yet.” Full Story
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