Name of airline captain, child mistaken for suspected terrorists

Officials call on TSA , DHS to correct problems with terror watch list


"I want the burden of clearing this up to be on the agencies that are the holders of responsibilities: the Department of Homeland Security and the attorney general of the United States," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who has called for investigations into why Griffin wound up on the list after his critical reporting.

The FBI won't confirm any name on the list. And the TSA says Kennedy and Lewis aren't on the list, even though they have been stopped.

But although the list is clearly bloated with misidentifications by every official's account, CNN has learned that it may also be ineffective. Numerous people, including all three Robinsons, have figured out that there are ways not to get flagged by the watch list.

Denise Robinson says she tells the skycaps her son is on the list, tips heavily and is given boarding passes. And booking her son as "J. Pierce Robinson" also has let the family bypass the watch list hassle.

Capt. James Robinson said he has learned that "Jim Robinson" and "J.K. Robinson" are not on the list.

And Griffin has tested its effectiveness. When he runs his first and middle name together when making a reservation online, he has no problem checking in at the airport.

The TSA has said the problem lies with the airlines and threatened to fine airlines that tell passengers they are on the watch list. That didn't sit well with the airlines, who through the Air Transport Association said they have been waiting for four years for the TSA to come up with a fix.

Those comments apparently sparked a recent meeting between TSA chief Kip Hawley and airline representatives. Following that meeting, a spokesman for the ATA said the airlines and TSA would cooperate to make things work.

But then last week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff seemed to re-ignite the controversy over who is to blame for the watch list failure.

"We told the airlines we would allow them, if someone gave a birth date, to exclude that person from the list," Chertoff said during a question-and-answer session at the University of Southern California.

"Let the person get their boarding pass directly at home or at the kiosk, just like everyone else. Some airlines have done this; some have chosen not to because they don't want to spend the money."

Chertoff then implied that the financially strapped airlines might comply if they could make money from the process.

"And their attitude is, 'Well, TSA gets the blame for it,' so I guess if they can do what they are doing now with food and can charge you for it -- but I hate to suggest that. I may give them an idea," he said.

The ATA, the trade association for the airlines, said carriers will work with the TSA and said enrolling in a frequent-flyer program could help.

"We are now awaiting TSA's announced January 2009 implementation of the Secure Flight Program, which is expected to reduce the number of misidentified passengers," the association said in a written statement.

"In the meantime, the airlines worked collaboratively with TSA to further minimize unnecessary passenger inconvenience. ... A key part of that short-term solution relies on frequent-flier program enrollment to help resolve misidentification issues and as a result we are urging passengers to enroll."

All the Robinsons are enrolled in frequent-flyer programs, and all have filled out the paperwork that Chertoff said is an easy way to get them off the watch list. But it has been three years since all three James Robinsons filled out those forms, and their cases have yet to be resolved.