Saturday, March 15, 2008

Terrorist watch list grows past 700,000 names

The ACLU reports that the Terrorist Screening Center's watch list reached 700,000 names in September 2007, and is adding 20,000 new names per month. "At that rate, our list will have a million names on it by July. If there were really that many terrorists running around, we'd all be dead."

Names on the list include:

Robert Johnson
Alexandra Hay
Evo Morales (president of Bolivia)
Saddam Hussein (dead former dictator of Iraq)
the 9/11 hijackers (all still dead)
Gary Smith
John Williams
Edward Kennedy (Massachusetts Senator)
John Lewis (U.S. Rep. from Georgia)
Daniel Brown (U.S. soldier detained on way home from Iraq)
James Moore (author of book critical of Bush administration)
Catherine ("Cat") Stevens (wife of Sen. Ted Stevens)
Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens)
Vernon Lewis (retired Major General, U.S. Army)
Robert Campbell (U.S. Navy, retired)
David Nelson
John William Anderson
Don Young (U.S. Rep. from Alaska)

The whole idea of checking names for flight screening is nearly pointless, since terrorists are capable of getting fake ID. It's absolutely idiotic to have extremely common names on the list and subject everyone who happens to have a common name to extra screening every time they fly. The right way to do screening is to use mechanisms like randomly subjecting people to extra screening and to have people undercover trained to identify suspicious behavior in the terminal--and to use multiple mechanisms that are randomly changed from day to day, so that security measures tested on one day will not be the exact measures in place on a later day.

UPDATE (March 18, 2008): Note that the no-fly list is a subset of the terrorist watch list. The former is what I criticize in the last paragraph. An FBI audit has stated that the information the FBI supplies for the terrorist watch list is "outdated and inaccurate."


Hume's Ghost said...

Such a list seems like it would be an open invitation for political abuse, too.

Seeing ACLU plaintiffs and Bush adminstration critics end up on the list is not a reassuring sign.

As we head towards being a national surveillance state where, as Lewis Lapham put it, "they ... put the entire country behind a one-way mirror that allows the government to see the people but prevents the people from seeing it" its nearly inevitable that in such a state abuse will follow.

For instance, a while back Glenn Greenwald was in the process of being smeared by Michelle Malkin-sphere blogs when a commenter claiming to work for the Dept. of Homeland Security revealed accurate travel information about Greenwald, which then was turned into the smear that Greenwald is a pseudo-American.

Jim Lippard said...

That reminds me--I requested my DHS travel dossier via the mechanism suggested by The Identity Project, last September 26, and have still not received a response!

OMB guidelines say I should have received an acknowledgment in 10 days and a response in 60.

Reed said...

I wonder if political correctness figures into the existence of the no-fly-list?

For instance, if anti-discrimination rules prevent the TSA from questioning every young Arab-looking male who looks the least bit suspicious, perhaps the TSA just needs any pretense to hold them for further questioning. A catch-all database of names might do the trick.

In any case, it's security theater.