Review of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Anti-Terrorist Actions
Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, “Review of CBP Actions Taken to Intercept Suspected Terrorists at U.S. Ports of Entry,” OIG-06-43, June 2006.
Results in Brief:
CBP has improved information sharing capabilities within the organization to smooth the flow of arriving passengers and increase the effectiveness of limited resources at POEs. Earlier, officers at POEs possessed limited information to help them resolve the identities of individuals mistakenly matched to the terrorist watch list, but a current initiative aims to provide supervisors at POEs with much more information to help them positively identify and clear individuals with names similar to those in the terrorist database. CBP procedures are highly prescriptive and withhold from supervisors the authority to make timely and informed decisions regarding the admissibility of individuals who they could quickly confirm are not the suspected terrorist.
As CBP has stepped up its efforts to intercept known and suspected terrorists at ports of entry, traditional missions such as narcotics interdiction and identification of fraudulent immigration documentation have been adversely affected. Recent data indicates a significant decrease over the past few years in the interception of narcotics and the identification of fraudulent immigration documents, especially at airports.
When a watchlisted or targeted individual is encountered at a POE, CBP generates several reports summarizing the incident. Each of these reports provides a different level of detail, and is distributed to a different readership. It is unclear, however, how details of the encounter and the information obtained from the suspected terrorist are disseminated for analysis. This inconsistent reporting is preventing DHS from developing independent intelligence assessments and may be preventing important information from inclusion in national strategic intelligence analyses.
During an encounter with a watchlisted individual, CBP officers at the POE often need to discuss sensitive details about the individual with law enforcement agencies and CBP personnel in headquarters offices. Some case details are classified. Because some CBP officers at POEs have not been granted the necessary security clearance, they are unable to review important information about a watchlisted individual and may not be able to participate with law enforcement agencies in interviews of certain individuals.
To improve the effectiveness of CBP personnel in their mission to prevent known and suspected terrorists from entering the United States, we are recommending that CBP: expand a biometric information collection program to include volunteers who would not normally provide this information when entering the United States; authorize POE supervisors limited discretion to make more timely admissibility determinations; review port of entry staffing models to ensure the current workforce is able to perform the entire range of CBP mission; establish a policy for more consistent reporting to intelligence agencies the details gathered during secondary interviews; and ensure all counterterrorism personnel at POEs are granted an appropriate security clearance.