Terror Watch List Counter: A Million Plus

Why are there so many names on the U.S. government's terrorist list?

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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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