House Passes Bill Providing Redress For Those Erroneously Placed On Watch Lists

February 4, 2009 12:00 am

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Approach To Lists Remains Fundamentally Flawed, Says ACLU

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill late last night establishing a process for innocent Americans to challenge their erroneous placement on government watch lists. The inaccurate and over-inclusive lists ensnare innocent travelers and waste resources that could be spent on effective counterterrorism efforts.

H.R. 559, sponsored by Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY), requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to create an Office of Appeals and Redress. The American Civil Liberties Union welcomes this development, but reiterates its call on Congress and the Obama administration to reexamine our nation’s approach to watch lists.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

“When the terror watch lists hit one million records last summer, it became painfully clear that this system is fatally flawed. Representative Clarke’s bill is significant in that it provides the individual with a means of seeking redress through appeal, and those erroneously caught up in the web of watch lists will be well-served. But the burden of correcting the error still remains on the victim and not those responsible for allowing the lists to grow exponentially.

“In order to make the current watch lists more effective in keeping our nation safe, they need to be scrubbed, retaining only individuals for whom there is credible evidence of terrorist ties or activities. But it remains critical that Congress and the Obama administration reexamine and reform our whole approach to the watch list system.”

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