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Terrorist Watchlists Now Check All US Air Travelers

janet napolitanoEvery passenger traveling within the United States and its territories is now being checked against terrorist watchlists through the Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight program, a move that is a major step in fulfilling a key 9/11 Commission recommendation, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced yesterday.

“This program is one of our many layers of security—coordinated with our partners in the airline industry and governments around the world—that we leverage to protect the traveling public against threats of terrorism,” she said.

The Secure Flight program prescreens passenger name, date of birth and gender against government watchlists for domestic and international flights. The program also helps prevent the misidentification of passengers who have names similar to individuals on government watchlists.

“We are quite pleased to see the positive outcome from the collaborative work that ATA, its member airlines and TSA have invested in the development of the Secure Flight program,” Air Transport Association President and CEO James C. May said. “We are especially pleased that TSA phased program implementation to ensure that commercial airline travelers experience a seamless transition.”

A majority of passengers will be cleared by Secure Flight to print boarding passes at home by providing their date of birth, gender and name as it appears on the ID they plan to use when traveling when booking airline tickets. Those found to match watchlist parameters will be have to go through secondary screening, a law enforcement interview or prohibition from boarding an aircraft, depending on the specific case.

TSA began implementing Secure Flight in late 2009 and expects all international carriers with direct flights to the United States to begin using Secure Flight by the end of this year.

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