IG blasts DHS on watch list consolidation

IG blasts DHS on watch list consolidation

The Homeland Security Department inspector general has hammered the department, particularly the Information Assurance and Infrastructure Protection Directorate, for failing to take charge of the effort to combine the government's multiple terrorist watch lists.

DHS 'is not carrying out significant responsibilities assigned to it under the Homeland Security Act,' concluded the report, DHS Challenges in Consolidating Terrorist Watch List Information. IG Clark Kent Ervin released the report Friday.

DHS brass chafed at the report's findings and said the Justice Department is the leader of the project. The department cited the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6. Issued in September of last year, Integration and Use of Screening Information assigned Justice that role, DHS said.

The IG dismissed that argument.

The directive gave Justice responsibility for creating the Terrorist Screening Center, the IG agreed, but that is only part of the task. The larger responsibility, 'to coordinate general policies or strategies for managing terrorist information across agency lines,' falls to DHS within the law that created the department, the IG said.

Frank Libuti, undersecretary for IAIP, disputed the IG's conclusions in written comments included in the report, going so far as to state, 'the topic of watch list consolidation is never mentioned specifically in the' Homeland Security Act.

The report dismissed that argument, too. 'Laws typically are not written to include such specific terminology, which has almost become a buzzword in the current environment,' the report countered.

'The undersecretary repeatedly disavows DHS responsibility for leadership of terrorist information sharing activities as they concern watch list consolidation,' the report noted.

' 'Connecting the dots' and ensuring better communications and information exchange among disparate federal, state and local government entities for counterterrorist purposes is a large part of why DHS was created. If DHS, or specifically IAIP, does not assume this interagency coordination responsibility, the question remains, 'Who will?' ' the IG said.

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