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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ACLU: US Terrorist Watch List Hits One Million

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the government now maintains a list of one million Americans on its watch list. These include members of congress, war heroes, nuns and other "suspicious characters."

Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program said that "America's new million record watch list is a perfect symbol for what's wrong with this administration's approach to security: it's unfair, out-of-control, a waste of resources, treats the rights of the innocent as an afterthought, and is a very real impediment in the lives of millions of travelers in this country."

"Putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee that the list will do more harm than good by interfering with the travel of innocent people and wasting huge amounts of our limited security resources on bureaucratic wheel-spinning. I doubt this thing would even be effective at catching a real terrorist."

The ACLU recommended these controls on the watch list: due process, a right to access and challenge data upon which listing is based, tight criteria for adding names to the lists rigorous procedures for updating and cleansing names from the lists. The ACLU also called for the president to issue an executive order requiring the lists to be reviewed and limited to only those for whom there is credible evidence of terrorist ties or activities. (That will probably have to be the next president.)

The list has reportedly been growing by 20,000 names per month. See ACLU/Watchlist.


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