Last week, The Blaze reported on Israel's placement on a terror watch list assembled by the United States government. Now, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has acknowledged that this selection was made based on "inaccurate information." According to John Morton, who serves as the director of the department's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, Israel, a key U.S. ally, was erroneously placed on the DHS list. The nation's surprise inclusion appeared in a May 2011 report from ICE's inspector general. JTA has more:
"The addition of Israel in the OIG’s list of ICE's 'Third-Agency Checks' (TAC) was based on inaccurate information provided to the OIG during the course of its audit," Morton said in a statement sent by e-mail to JTA.
"The U.S. does not and never has considered Israel to have links to terrorism, but rather they are a partner in our efforts to combat global terrorism. The United States maintains close intelligence-sharing relationships with Israel in order to address security issues within its own borders and in our mutual pursuit of safety and security around the globe."
This list, which includes 36 nations, does not target government policies as the catalyst for inclusion. Rather, it looks at the likelihood that a traveler from a specific country might have terrorist ties. If a traveler from one of the listed nations is detained, that country's presence on the list will spawn a special check by ICE (called a Third Agency Check or TAC).
Last week, CNS News first reported about Israel's inclusion on this list and further explained the purpose of the TAC screening:
“In addition to the Terrorist Watchlist screening, ICE uses a Third Agency Check (TAC) to screen aliens from specially designated countries (SDCs) that have shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members,” says the inspector general’s report.
Interestingly, when previously asked by CNS News to clarify who put Israel on the list or when the nation was added, ICE declined. But, one spokesperson claims that the list was created seven years ago and that ICE did not choose the nations for inclusion. This, if true, would mean that it was created during the presidency of George W. Bush. Below, see the list that is presented (including Israel) in the inspector general's report:
With one spokesperson declining to explain how Israel made its way onto the list and with the director of ICE later contending that the inclusion was an error, the situation is certainly intriguing. One wonders if Israel was purposefully included, but then removed due to fear over the public's reaction to such a designation. Either way, Israeli citizens who are detained no longer qualify for special TAC searches.