May 6th, 2010
02:47 PM ET
13 years ago

Lawmakers press Holder on use of 'watch list'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Senators questioned Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday on the effective use of the terrorist watch list."]
Washington (CNN) - If the new requirement that no-fly lists be checked by airlines every two hours had been in place, Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad would have been stopped before boarding a plane, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.

Pressed by lawmakers at a Senate hearing, Holder said the requirement for airlines to check no-fly lists every two hours instead of 24 hours likely could have prompted authorities at the airport to apprehend Shahzad sooner.

Shahzad was arrested late Monday at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport after boarding a flight bound for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. His final destination was Pakistan.

The Emirates plane had pulled away from the gate but was ordered back by customs officials. Shahzad was taken into custody.

Holder reiterated his statement to reporters Tuesday that he personally was "never worried" Shahzad would manage to escape, but acknowledged not everything went right.

"We were successful here, but am I satisfied? No," Holder told a Senate Appropriations panel.

Senators questioned Holder on the effective use of the terrorist watch list.

"Once again the watch list seems to be dysfunctional," panel chairman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, said. "Who's in charge of making sure the watch list is used?"

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, pushed Holder on whether Shahzad should have been under investigation earlier following a visit to Pakistan.

"We are in the process of looking at files and indices to see what we knew about this man, and when we knew it," Holder said.

Holder also told lawmakers he finds "very worrisome" a law that allow loaded guns in vehicles at airports. Authorities found a loaded handgun in the glove compartment of Shahzad's car.

Filed under: Eric Holder • Homeland Security • Terrorism
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    How is this any different from what Arizona wants to do?

    May 6, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Jefe

    Why wouldn't they be using a real-time updated no-fly list? The company I work for has a MUCH larger database which is updated in real-time. I'm certain our operating budget is a TINY fraction of the Department of Homeland "Security" budget. All they need to do is step into the early 1990's technologically, and its done. Simply amazine, the ineptitude. 2 Hours as a goal in a world where real-time database updates are something you can do with a desktop computer and a $10/month internet connection. Wow.

    May 6, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. teo

    So it's too expensive for the oil companies to have an emergency shut-off. It's too expensive for the airlines to consult the do not fly list. It's too expensive for the mining companies to operate safe and appropriately accessed mines. I wonder how long before Obama realizes that the government he inherited is far more concerned about big businesses than about Joe Consumer.

    May 6, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Ron in California

    When it comes to terrorism, Holder doesn't seem to be worried about anything. He needs to step up his game on this problem. After 10 years you would think our systems would be better. We also, need to get over his PC attitude that persists in government. Where is Jack Bauer when you need him.

    May 6, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. ehwilson429

    eric holder has a hatred of the united states.
    he always has been and will remain a enemy of the country.
    his family background is Caribbean communists.

    May 6, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. PalmReader

    Goodness. All this feigned outrage against the Obama Administration for a rule which was originally put in place by the Bush Administration. Bush initiated the 24 hour Airline Do Not Fly check list rule after 9/11. That this rule hadn't been updated until now speaks volumes against those who originally felt 24 hours was sufficient.

    I guess what was good for Bush should be held against Obama . . . again.

    May 6, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. Wally

    I think it was perfect that they were able to apprehend Shahzad on the airplane...much more civil and safe than chasing him through the airport, especially since he had a gun in his car!

    All the critics needs to get their priorites straight...he was caught in 53 hours and he's still talking.

    May 6, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. Wake UP

    Eric Holder, much like his boss King Obama, have no experience. It is a danger to this country that we have this ineptness in control. Eric Holder has been a hack for decades.

    May 6, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Pam, Eugene, OR

    Why on earth would you not suspect someone buying a last minute ticket to that ultimate destination when he paid in cash and checked no baggage. What was the ticket agent thinking.
    The airlines are as bad as our borders. Pay attention people!

    May 6, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Kevin B.

    Bottom line is that the worst attack on american soil in history happened on the GOP's watch.

    Let ssee the slime GOP slime machine try and spin that fact..............

    May 6, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Dave

    Eric Holders and the justice department managed to leak Shahzad’s identity to the media prompting many news agencies to set up satellite trucks in Shahzad’s neighborhood. The feds are lucky he didn't snap and kill innocent citizens with the Tech 9 -9mm semi-automatic gun he had in his car knowing he would inevitably be apprehended. The leak should be investigated and someone in the justice department should lose their job and possibly be prosecuted.

    May 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |