Terrorist Watch List Attacked for Size, Ineffectiveness, House committee grills government directors on unwieldy watch list

November 8, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The House Homeland Security Committee grilled government officials today about the government’s terrorist watch list, asking the same question the American Civil Liberties Union has been posing for years: Why is the list so enormous? The list has ballooned to 860,000 people and continues to grow.

A Government Accountability Office report issued last month reported that false positives clog the list, and its massive size effectively renders it useless. Directors from the Terrorist Screening Center, the Screening Coordination Center of the Department of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security and Justice Division of the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general of the Department of Justice were grilled by the committee on the shortcomings of the program.

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

“If finding a terrorist is like finding a needle in a haystack, the Terrorist Screening Center has been hard at work creating a bigger haystack, by adding thousands of new names with no end in sight. The terrorist watch list is not a serious security tool. At the rate it’s been growing, eventually all 300 million Americans will be on the terrorist watch list. Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, the list is about to hit the one million mark.”

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