February 15, 2006

325,000 Names

325,000. That's how many names are on the terrorist watch list. The Guardian discusses the scope and civil liberties implications:

... Thousands of Americans have only discovered their name, or a similar one, is on the list when they have been prevented from taking a commercial flight. Senator Edward Kennedy found himself in that position in 2004.

Mr Sparapani said he had heard officials from the Transport Security Agency estimate that about 30,000 people a year had been denied the right to board a flight because of the list.

... Marc Rotenberg, the head of a watchdog group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, said: "It's problematic not simply in the big brother way with the loss of privacy, but it's also problematic because it doesn't seem to work."

He said it was virtually impossible for those wrongly listed as terrorist suspects to clear their name. "We passed a very good law in the 1970s ... at least when the US government makes a decision about a US citizen, that process had to be transparent and people had to be able to appeal those decisions, but now those agencies get exemptions to the law."

Other people who've run afoul of our new transportation security regime over the last few years include Green Party organizer Nancy Oden, nuns, peace activists, children, a retired Coast Guard commander, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, and babies. The US government also now demands extensive private information on foreign visitors, which I can only presume they keep whether the person is a suspect for anything or not.

Posted by natasha at February 15, 2006 09:40 PM | Civil Liberties | Technorati links |