ACLU Calls for Stricter Oversight of Terrorist Watch Lists

October 24, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – Today the Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on terror watch lists, an issue that the American Civil Liberties Union has been carefully observing since September 11, 2001. This comes on the heels of a GAO report that was released today detailing the progress of the Terrorist Screening Centers. The ACLU noted that though the report states some progress was achieved, that progress is still heavily outweighed by major concerns regarding privacy and efficiency.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, Senior Legislative Counsel of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Several months ago there were 720,000 people on the terrorist watch list and today there are 860,000. As the number of people on our global watch lists steadily gallops towards one million, we should reevaluate how effective these lists are. If we must live with these blacklists, the very least we should ask for is that they remain relevant and functional.

“Think of how ubiquitous and functional the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list is. In contrast, when names are thrown onto the TSC’s list haphazardly, the list becomes exponentially less useful. Not to mention that the watch list is like quicksand – easy to stumble onto and near impossible to free yourself from. How much safer are we when the government turns so many innocent people into suspects? Congress needs to intensify its oversight of these lists before we all become suspects in the eyes of the Terrorist Screening Center.”

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