A government program set up to remove innocent people from terrorism no-fly and watch lists has been ineffective and riddled with problems, travelers and congressional leaders say.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, or TRIP, was started almost a year ago to clear people routinely subjected to extra airport-security screening and even detention simply because their names were confused with those on the government’s voluminous terrorism watch lists. The lists now contain more than 700,000 records and include many names as common as John Thompson and James Wilson.
But travelers say TRIP has done little to ease their security hassles. They complain that government officials have been unresponsive and offer little information even when they do answer inquiries. And travelers who have been told they have been placed on a “cleared” list find themselves still subjected to added security procedures, unable to pre-print boarding passes for airline flights or use kiosks at airports, for example. Then, after waiting in line to check in, they find themselves trapped in a Catch-22 of long waits while supervisors probe their identity and status on the “cleared” list — just to avoid the delay of being selected for additional screening at checkpoints.