Why are there so many names on the U.S. government’s terrorist list?
In September 2007, the Inspector General of the Justice Department reported that the Terrorist Screening Center (the FBI-administered organization that consolidates terrorist watch list information in the United States) had over 700,000 names in its database as of April 2007 – and that the list was growing by an average of over 20,000 records per month.1 (See also this new March 2008 report.2 )
By those numbers, the list now has over one million names on it. Terrorist watch lists must be tightly focused on true terrorists who pose a genuine threat. Bloated lists are bad because
- they ensnare many innocent travelers as suspected terrorists, and
- because they waste screeners’ time and divert their energies from looking for true terrorists.
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