Who’s watching the watch list?

Have you wondered how many actual terrorists since 9/11 have come though the airport security screeners?

The name of the Justice Department’s former top criminal prosecutor has turned up on the U.S.’s terrorist watch list, according to the Associated Press.


This terrorism-era roster, which likely has caused thousands of innocent Americans to be questioned or searched, popped up with the name of former Assistant Attorney General Jim Robinson.

Robinson joined another mistaken-identity American and the American Civil Liberties Union Monday in calling for elimination of the list that’s designed to identify suspected terrorists.

Chad Kolton, a spokesman for the Terrorist Screening Center that maintains the list, says that number includes aliases. Kolton said about 400,000 individuals are on the list, nearly all of whom are foreigners.

Something’s not right here. A government report (from the General Accounting Office) last fall, put the number of watch list “members” at 755,000. The ACLU, which claims to have been been tracking the list, says there are over 1 million names on it now.

An additional problem is that officials are stopping people whose names are close to the names on the list, according to the Washington Post.

U.S. senators, congressmen and women, Nelson Mandela, veterans, and dead dictators are also reportedly on the list.

Oh, and they’re also stopping 6 year olds.

The Feds won’t tell you if you’re on the terror watch list. But they’ve still set up a “redress procedure” (which is overburdened) for people who think they are. But when you go to the FBI site, it tells you they don’t accept inquiries from the public. Instead, it recommends you go to the Department of Homeland Security where you can fill out a complaint form.

Or you can fill out a form on the ACLU site.

  • JenniferB

    My family learned of this list in 2002, because apparently someone sharing my dad’s name is on it. We were flying out on a vacation and he had to present additional photo ID and got pulled aside at the gate for further checks before they would allow him to board the plane/the plane to take off. I would understand the trouble if his name were something other than David Nelson.

    At the very least, most people secure their reservations at least a week in advance. Instead of flagging the passenger’s name at the airport, wouldn’t it make more sense to flag it when it appears in the airline’s reservation system? A request could be sent for additional verification at that time and possibly save a number of people from a headache at the airport.

  • http://www.trailblz.com brian hanf

    I love all the attention, trouble and expense that go into the appearance of security. I love even more that fact that most every elected official in congress (and even at state levels to some extent) does not stand up and demand real security. And even more amazed that the ‘general’ public does not stand up and demand our elected officials remove this security side show. Oh wait I guess I am not that amazed at the last one, approval rating of congress at 9%, but when asked about there own congressman its what 50-80 percent approval?