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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 12:37 GMT
US 'to halve' no-fly watch list
Planes at Miami airport
The US wants to make no-fly errors "a thing of the past"
The US is reviewing the list it uses to bar suspected terrorists from travelling on airliners, saying it hopes to halve the number of names.

A revised list and new passenger screening system should prevent cases of travellers wrongfully stopped, the Transportation Security bureau said.

The number on the list is not known but estimates vary from 50,000 to 350,000.

The US will also introduce a complaints system to allow travellers to have wrong information corrected.

Cat Stevens

The head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Howley, told Congress he hoped a new screening programme, due in 2008 and called Secure Flight, would make cases of travellers being wrongfully stopped from flying "a thing of the past".

Cutting a list of 350,000 names is not all that impressive
Barry Steinhardt
Civil liberties lawyer

A "no-fly" list has been in operation for decades but the number of names has greatly increased since the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

Politicians at the Senate Commerce Committee brought up the issue of complaints with Mr Hawley.

Senator Ted Stevens said his wife Catherine was being identified as Cat Stevens - the folk singer now known as Yusuf Islam who was prevented from entering the US in 2004.

Mr Hawley said his department did send updated information to airlines but added: "Unfortunately, it depends airline by airline how their individual systems work."

Barry Steinhardt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, said the reduction was a start, but added: "Cutting a list of 350,000 names is not all that impressive."

On 20 February, the Homeland Security Department will begin a complaints system for people who feel they have been wronged by the no-fly list.

Passengers will be able to file an inquiry to have information on them checked.

They would have a "clearly defined process" to report problems, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.

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