Feinstein: Terrorist Screening Must Improve

Updated 10:49 a.m. ET

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the government will have to improve screening of potential terror suspects, including making changes to how airlines use the no-fly list.

In the wake of Faisal Shahzad's near getaway on board a Dubai-bound Emirates airline flight late Monday, despite the fact that he was added to the no-fly list earlier that day, airlines are being required to check the list every two hours. Shahzad's no-fly status was apparently unkown to the airline when he boarded the flight.

But Feinstein told CBS' "The Early Show" that a mandatory two-hour check may still not be enough.

Special Section: Terrorism in the U.S.

"I would even prefer if it were sooner. And I think at some point the government is, in fact ... going to take over the list. And then it become as strict governmental responsibility. I think that's one reform that can easily be made," she said.

Feinstein said the Transportation Security Administration should move up the timeframe for enforcing the no-fly list on international flights. Right now, airlines are responsible for enforcing the list on international flights, and the TSA is set to take that over in about  year.

"This is not an easy thing because I think we're now finding that there is a new prototype of this kind of terrorist. And this man, in fact, is a citizen. ... He's made a number of trips to Pakistan back and forth. And there are about 180,000 people a year going to Pakistan, 160,000 coming back. That's a lot of people to set up an improved screening system. But I think this is one of the things that has to happen because if we're going to prevent these attacks, we have to have a better screening of individuals who are likely suspects. And that's a very tall order."

The Associated Press reports that a procedure is almost complete for the TSA to check domestic passenger lists, but there is a longer transition ahead for international flights.

Feinstein also addressed a proposal by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., to strip terror suspects of their citizenship, regardless of whether they've committed any crimes.

"Sen. Lieberman proposed that once before. I took a look at it then ... and my analysis was that it would not stand the constitutional test based on law made by the Supreme Court. I haven't seen the latest draft and don't know whether it's changed. So I really can't say."

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  • Daniel Carty

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