Turner wants hearings on watch lists

Frustrated by delays in merging the dozen terrorist watch lists into a single database, Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas) called for immediate oversight hearings to examine the issue.

Turner, ranking member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter this week to Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), committee chairman, expressing concerns about the slipping deadline for the Terrorist Screening Center to merge the watch lists.

"The repeated delays and excuses on the issue of the terrorist watch list integration by both the FBI and [Homeland Security Department] are hard to comprehend," Turner wrote. "Our committee should exercise its oversight responsibilities and hold a hearing immediately on this issue of urgent national security importance."

The Terrorist Screening Center, charged with consolidation, was launched Dec. 1, 2003, but at the time the FBI said it was not fully operational and not a single database had been created. DHS Secretary Tom Ridge recently told lawmakers the list would not be completed until the end of the summer, and the DHS strategic plan released last month indicated a list would be ready by the end of the year.

"Continued delays regarding the integration of terrorist watch lists are unacceptable," Turner wrote. "In the last month, the date for watch list completion has slipped by nine months."

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