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One million names on US terror watch list : rights group

Published by onlines on July 15, 2008


A watch list of suspected and known terrorists, compiled by the US authorities, has ballooned and contains more than one million names, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday.

The ACLU said it derived that figure from a Justice Department report on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, which consolidates terrorist watch list information.

The Center “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,” according to a report by the Justice Department Inspector General, the rights group said.

“By those numbers, the list now has over one million names on it,” the ACLU said in a statement.

Among those on the watch list are deceased people, such as former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein who was hanged in 2005, decorated war veterans, and US Senator Ted Kennedy, the ACLU said.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, former South African president Nelson Mandela, was also on the list until an act of Congress removed his name — the only way, according to the ACLU, to get off the list.

“The watchlist is a perfect symbol for what’s wrong with the administration’s approach to terrorism: it’s unfair, out of control, incompetently administered, a waste of resources, and is a very real impediment in the lives of billions of travelers,” the director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program, Barry Steinhardt, told reporters in Washington.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) flatly denied the allegation that the list contained one million names.

“Assumptions about the list are just plain wrong,” the TSA said in a posting on its website, estimating that there were less than 450,000 people on the watch list.

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