Back to News & Commentary

Happy One Million Names on the Watchlist!

Share This Page
July 14, 2008

Today in Washington, D.C., the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program (TLP) marked the addition of the 1,000,000th name to the FBI-run Terrorist Screening Center’s terrorist watch list. One…million…names. OMG.

Highly suspicious characters such as Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) are on the watch list. So are the notorious Gary Smith and Robert Johnson. What? You’ve never heard of Gary Smith or Robert Johnson? They’re so dangerous that countless of iterations of them are stopped at airports all the time, all because they’ve got really common names.

TLP Director Barry Steinhardt tells us why 1 million names on a watch list is as good as nothing on Daily Kos, and proposes some common-sense solutions. Chief among them: giving non-terrorists who are on the list a way of getting off the list. Right now, it takes an act of Congress to get your name off the list. Given how quickly and expeditiously Congress works, you can expect a wrong name to come off the list roughly around the same time that hell freezes over. (Congress did manage to get Nelson Mandela removed from the list.)

So if Senator “E. Kennedy”, an actual member of Congress, can’t get his name off the list, well, good luck to ya!

Learn More About the Issues on This Page