WASHINGTON - The FBI gave outdated, incomplete, and inaccurate information about terror suspects to be added to the government's watchlist for nearly three years despite steps taken to prevent errors, a US Department of Justice audit concludes.
Responding, an FBI spokesman said gaps identified in the system should be fixed within six months.
Overall, the audit released yesterday by Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn A.
Fine gave the FBI a mixed review for its process of submitting an estimated 8,000 names and other data to the terror watchlist that is compiled by US intelligence agencies.
It found that the FBI has proper training and other internal controls in place to help make sure names of suspected terrorists were accurately added to the list.
However, Fine's report rapped the FBI for failing to pass along newly discovered information about people on the watchlist consistently, or to remove those who were no longer deemed a threat.
"We found that the FBI was not always providing updated nominations when new information became known about a nominated individual," the audit concluded. "We also found that the FBI was not always removing records from the watchlist when it was appropriate to do so.
"Moreover, FBI headquarters officials reported that watchlist nomination submissions from field offices were often incomplete or contained inaccuracies, which caused delays in the processing of nominations," the audit concluded.
Between January 2005 and November 2007, the FBI had processed the names of 8,240 suspects who were nominated to be added to the terror watchlist, the audit found.
At times, FBI agents in field offices nominated terror suspects to be included on the list without first checking with FBI headquarters in Washington - preventing a thorough review.
In a statement, the FBI's assistant director, John Miller, said the agency has begun changing the way it submits names of international and domestic terror suspects to make the nomination process easier and more efficient for agents.
He said many of the problems identified in Fine's review should be fixed within six months.