WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- Members of the U.S. Congress have called for improvements in the Transportation Security Administration's terrorist watch list.
The congressional critics cited the detainment of frequent fliers with names similar to those of suspected terrorists as one major problem plaguing the TSA's watch list program, GovExec.com reported Thursday.
As more terrorists' identities emerge, the list is growing ever longer. Improved algorithms are needed to both narrow the search for potential hijackers and expedite the boarding process for scores of innocent passengers, according to several members of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"If we're going to have a watch list that works," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., "we should fine-tune it."
But several other subcommittee members argued that while the watch list is large, it remains important to the effort to keep known and suspected terrorists off aircraft, the report said.
Some members reserved their criticism for Secure Flight, a program to expedite screening for frequent fliers that aims to do exactly what lawmakers like Lofgren want -- protect innocent travelers while focusing on terrorists. According to Government Accountability Office reports, while up to $130 million has been spent on the program, it remains in development, GovExec.com said.
Lofgren was among several subcommittee members who called for further scrutiny of TSA's watch list program and Secure Flight. But the lawmakers did not offer a specific timeline for accomplishing this.
Earlier this year, TSA shelved the Secure Flight program for reassessment. A GAO investigator testified before the subcommittee that TSA has not provided enough data on the program, that it is currently inadequate and that key policy decisions must be made soon on its future.