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Terrorist Watch Lists - Are You on One?


Watch Lists - Keeping terrorists out or terrorizing innocent citizens?

Since 9/11 we've watched airport security tighten withSecurity WoesSecurity Woes the speed and efficiency of a well-greased noose. Trouble is thousands of innocent Americans (including a few very suspicious infants) have taken a turn waiting for the hangman.

Prior to Sept. 11, federal officials grouped fewer than a dozen people on a possible threat list. Today more than 880,000 names are actively watched. But do the lists help or do they just clog security lines?

Here's what we know:

  • Who's on the list? Fewer than 5% of the 880,000 names on the list are American citizens, and only 300,000 are unique names - not permeations of an already listed name.
  • How do you get on the list? While it may seem your supervisor has an unwritten vendetta against you, he can't get your name on the list - only the CIA and FBI can do that.
  • How do you get off the list? The FBI has to initiate an investigation, which you can request by contacting Homeland Security Department's (DHS) Redress Program. It can take as long as 3 months, but most people who appeal are cleared based misidentification (name similarity).
  • Who maintains the list? The Terrorist Screening Center distributes the list to federal agencies, as well as state and local police forces. Portions of the list are sent to more specific agencies (for ex. Customs and Border Protection Agency).
  • Anything you can do while you're waiting? Inquire about having your name added to the DHS TRIP Program. It flags names that have been previously misidentified. Since February 2006, more than 71,487 names have been added to a separate "Override List."
  • Has the Watch List lead to any "real" arrests? The government reports that almost 300 people with terrorist links were banned from entering the US. The program has also lead to a multitude of arrests for crimes not related to terrorism.

Agree with the watch lists or not?

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