US terrorist watchlist now has more than 1,000,000 names

Discuss

99 Responses to “US terrorist watchlist now has more than 1,000,000 names”

  1. leriseux says:

    Am I the only one wondering WHERE these REAL terrorists are? Do they even exist? What is the conviction ratio of these terrorist? (never mind the accusation ratio). I think I’ve perhaps heard of 5 or 6 convictions (or rather ‘determinations’ by the military courts).

    It would be interesting to see what the capture & conviction ratio of ‘true’ terrorists today is compared to the pre-9/11 ratio.

    And no, going by government criteria, I am not certain what a ‘true’ terrorist is.

  2. flamingphonebook says:

    FlamingPhoneBook @15, the aggressive tone of your comments would be more tolerable if what you said in them were more thoughtful. Or, to come at it from a different angle: not putting a lot of thought into your comments would be more tolerable if you took a less aggressive tone in them.

    Exercising both bad habits at once would be irritating, but not a flogging offense, if you only did it occasionally. However, over time it’s become increasingly clear that this is your preferred or habitual mode. It’s likewise clear that you don’t listen very well, and that the educational aspects of disemvowelling are lost on you.

    You’re not far from getting a three-day suspension. If that happens, please understand that it’s primarily meant to draw your attention to the fact that there’s a problem, after lesser means have failed.

    I put thought into every one of my comments. More to the point, I have put a great deal of thought into the ideology behind them, which as far as I have been able to tell, is entirely my own. Let me take you through my thoughts:

    I think that the individual, the discrete, the seperate, should always get first consideration over the collective, the societal, the community-driven. I think this because individuals can exist without collectives, but collectives cannot exist without individuals.

    I also think that, as a function of that, individual human beings having rights over society, controlling their own destiny by their choices in despite of the wishes of billions of others, is the most beautiful thing in this world.

    I further think that the person who says that his choice is sovereign and his benefits solely his, the iconoclast, the misanthrope, carries a nobility to him, and should be deferred to.

    And as a conclusion, I think that based on their views, their actions, and their results, some people, some lives, have more value than others. All men are created equal; they don’t stay that way. Rather than try to make them equal, I think we should let nature take its course. Where I meet my superiors, I can learn from them; where I meet my inferiors, I can rest on my laurels.

    That’s the philosophy, now here’s the politics:

    Twenty years ago, the greatest philosophical threat that I perceived to the values listed above was Soviet Communism. It said that an individual’s utility was a worthless end, and that his work was merely a means to societal gains. Today the greatest threat I perceive is from Islam. It says that man is the slave of Allah, a being I’ve never seen and don’t believe exists. It prescribes to individuals how to work, how to spend, how to dress, how to pray, how to eat, how to have sex. Rules for such things are anathema to me.

    If all proponants of Islam were merely content to argue in the arena of ideas, they would be no more of a blip on my philosophical radar than the Religious Right or the modern American Communists. Even if events like 9/11 or the resistence of the avenging American invasion of Afghanistan were merely the takings of several thousands of lives, well, I might do as some have and compare it to the number of deaths by cancer or car accidents. But there is a political end to those events.

    Many have declared that they fear the kind of world we will have if this sort of security run amok is allowed to continue and interfere in our daily lives. I admit it is not ideal. But to me it is infinitely preferable to one in which Islam interferes in our daily lives. That such a world should be effected at the threat of violence merely rubs salt in the wounds.

    In contrast, there are some movements that are in line, though not perfectly with my ideals: capitalism, corporatism, commercialism, mercantilsim, materialism. That a person could invest in, or go to work for, some large corporation like Wal-mart or Haliburton, and amass wealth until he can insulate himself from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and live by whatever whims he has (even if it’s just to amass more wealth) is wonderful in my eyes.

    Forgive the length of that, but I am determined to demonstrate that I am not thoughtless or trolling. Those are my ideals and my politics. I recognize that they are rare; I recognize that they are likely unshared here. And if holding those ideals are worth moderator action, so be it, but then it will be politically motivated and no mistake.

    But as regards aggression, those on the other side frequently vent their spleens in defense of their own values. Just in the comments above mine, in which I was so aggressive, there was sarcasm, reducto ad absurdum, a call of nonsense, and a Nazi march. I felt mine was in measure with those, while voicing an opinion: there is no right to fly, sail, drive, or take a train; there is a right to do those if you own or buy passage on a plane, train, car, or boat.

    So in summation, I will restrain my aggression in defense of my ideals and stick to calm rationality if the same is mandated for those with more orthodox politics. Or I will leave at your request. I decline to change my values.

  3. strider_mt2k says:

    We are the terrorists.

    All of us.

  4. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    As I wrote in Section 7 of this comment:

    The TSA has a consistent record of lying about what it’s doing to Congress, major government agencies, the press, and everyone else within earshot. It’s averse to transparency. It doesn’t hesitate to violate regulations and break the law. And when it vows to repent, nothing changes.

    Then I linked to eight Bruce Schneier essays on the subject.

  5. kulervo says:

    Avoiding all the various political recriminations . . . I was traveling with a friend this last weekend, and he was unable to get a boarding pass on the net. We were told by the sky-cap that his name was on the watch list. His name is fairly common, but he does travel internationally for business, so it might or might not be him. Now, I’m an attorney, so he looked to me and asked: How do I clear this up?

    So: whats the to-do list here? Where is the DIY guide for removing yourself from the various watch lists?

  6. codereduk says:

    California Uber Alles
    California Uber Alles
    Uber Alles California
    Uber Alles California

    Zen fascists will control you
    100% natural
    You will jog for the master race
    And always wear the happy face

    Close your eyes, can’t happen here
    Big Bro’ on white horse is near
    The hippies won’t come back you say
    Mellow out or you will pay
    Mellow out or you will pay!

    California Uber Alles
    California Uber Alles
    Uber Alles California
    Uber Alles California

  7. Red Leatherman says:

    Perhaps the way to be removed from the list are some simple test lined out in the Malleus Maleficarum.

  8. leriseux says:

    OK! I found one of the terrorists. But he’s only 16 and Canadian. Hope that meets DHS requirements.

    “A videotape of a detainee being questioned at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay has been released for the first time.

    It shows 16-year-old Omar Khadr being asked by Canadian officials in 2003 about events leading up to his capture by US forces, Canadian media have said.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7507216.stm

  9. Ugly Canuck says:

    Individuals cannot exist without collectives.
    To think otherwise is just wrong.
    We are not insects…we require at least 14 and probably 21 years or more of education (by others) before we are capable of making our own way…we are a social species, get over it…do not base your politics on imaginary states of affairs.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I was added because I was just looking for a rolex. I gained insight that the watch and observance and slave to it and time, made me a prisoner.It also bespoke of control,and to who wants it and enslaves you should you oppose it.Dont waste your time on gaining what you already have.The terrorists arent in foreign lands.They exist hired by our goverment and are called Americans. Looks like the aliens took over finally because the Americans I grew up with, had none of the qualities and deception as much as the current one.

  11. Ugly Canuck says:

    And any given individual’s virtues and character are determined not in solitude but in the stream intercourse and collisions of social life…
    An individual will always be judged as against the group of which he is a member and by definition most of us are average…
    any individual’s worth is ultimately a function of what good he was or is to others, how she interacts with them, whether or not other people’s lives are better for having encountered you…
    Any other judgments of people, not referencing their relations with other people, ultimately decay into reflections of childish greed and selfishness.

  12. flamingphonebook says:

    “Individuals cannot exist without collectives.”

    Sure they can. Put a man on a desert island alone, that’s an individual without a collective. He may not thrive, but he can exist. A collective without individuals OTOH is a contradiction.

  13. bardfinn says:

    #20:

    Buschland, Buschland, Ueber alles!
    Ueber alles im Den Welt!
    Wenn es stetz zu Gelt und Gott-lust
    Kumpanei Zusammenhaelt!
    Von der Weisshaus an das Crawford
    Von der GOP an Christian-Rechts
    Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
    NeoCons marschiert mit ruhig festem Schritt.
    Kameraden, die Gotloss und Liberale gestoert,
    Marschieren im Geist in unseren Reihen mit,
    Die Wall-Strasse frei den Pluenderer Boersenmakler.
    Die Strasse frei den Christian-Herrschaflichtsmann!
    Es schaun aufs Kreuz voll Hoffnung schon Millionen
    Der tag fuer Freiheit und fuer Christ bricht an!

  14. Ugly Canuck says:

    Why should men of good fellowship defer to the misanthrope?

  15. Ugly Canuck says:

    A collective without individuals is called a corporation…and all people belong to the group of which all people are members….a man alone can do nothing. Organize or die. (And it’s tough to find uninhabited islands except in works of childish political fantasy.)

  16. Xopher says:

    Teresa, that link doesn’t appear to go to anything with a Section 7.

  17. Ugly Canuck says:

    Finally a man alone is no less a social creature, just a rather pathetic one.
    Speaking of pathetic I ought to know not to feed the trolls – it’s not my favorite social activity.

  18. Brett Burton says:

    Nuns named on a terrorist watchlist? Is this my list from high school? (Paul VI class of 94!)

  19. buddy66 says:

    Canuck,

    I too thought the Flamer was a troll, but I read his recent philosophical screed and concluded that I was wrong. Just don’t talk to him. The man is insane.

    Let’s cut him some slack, ere he find a high window.

  20. ill lich says:

    How much of this is true totalitarian evil, and how much is just common everyday bureaucracy? (And in the end is there really much difference?)

  21. flamingphonebook says:

    “A collective without individuals is called a corporation”

    A corporation with no employees, directors, no one to file the paperwork forming the corporation or even to be the member of the government to accept the paperwork and form the legal person?

    “I ought to know not to feed the trolls”

    “The man is insane.”

    Quoth myself:

    “I will restrain my aggression in defense of my ideals and stick to calm rationality if the same is mandated for those with more orthodox politics.”

  22. buddy66 says:

    “A man alone’s got no fucking chance.”

    — Hemingway’s Harry Morgan in ‘To Have And Have Not’

  23. buddy66 says:

    @#25 Teresa:

    A Flaming Phonebook? That’s a small fire. I know how to put out a small fire:—you piss on it.

  24. mark zero says:

    The list is lies.

  25. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Xopher: Thanks, it’s fixed now.

  26. kripes says:

    1,000,000 = a little less than 0.3% of the population. (Did I do my math right?)

    Yeah, a million is a “big” number, but let’s keep it in perspective. ND rlz tht th lst s nt gnn sddnly vnsh (r chng) whn BH gts n ffc.

  27. kulervo says:

    I would like to point out 2 things.

    1. Godwin’s law.

    2. I still haven’t seen any constructive help. My friend has a serious problem, and while the political commentary is perhaps appropriate, I was hoping that somewhere in here there would be useful.

  28. geo the moose says:

    I am thinking that I might be a BAD BOY sometime!!
    George Mal*** is now terrorist # 100,000,002

  29. Ugly Canuck says:

    The corporation’s existence is due to the collective actions of the individuals you have indicated – but it is not made up of those individuals. Indeed the Corp. has a separate “individuality”…at best it can be said to be a “collective” of parts of people…but I take it your praise of the individual applies to natural rather than artificial persons like say a city country county corporation or church…
    my point remains that it is the group which matters. Perhaps you are young, and may not appreciate how very fragile we as individuals are, and perhaps have not reflected adequately upon the nature, role and use of Language and what that fact alone says about our essential human nature (hint: language can only “work” with shared words).
    Perhaps you would also do well in this context to reflect on an individual’s role in War, both as a soldier following orders and as say a pacifist opponent of War and to what extent either individual’s views can be said to “matter” to the outcome of whatever conflict you’re thinking of ( I’m thinking of the 11th C extirpation of the Islamic settlements in what is now Southern Italy and Spain – you may wish to consider some other conflict).
    I hardly wish to disparage or otherwise belittle the fantastic achievements which individuals throughout history have attained – indeed, who would wish to?
    I only wish to counterbalance the unnuanced view which you have expressed that collective action is no good or somehow less valuable than individual achievement – a belief which rapidly disappears within the military which well knows the value of an individual (which reaches its zenith when that individual is working with others).
    I do not think you are insane. you may be a troll. I don’t really know or care.
    But a man alone is nothing.
    PS Happy 65th Anniversary end of the Battle of Kursk……600,000 dead Red Army soldiers in one week…as much as Anglo-American Forces lost during the Entire War…RIP

  30. Aloisius says:

    If I was on the list, instead of asking to be removed, I’d start creating aliases for myself. I think I’d probably first pick all the most common names in the US: James Smith, Robert Williams, Michael Brown, William Johnson, etc.

    Then I think I’d start creating aliases after employees of the DOJ: Michael Mukasey, Mark Filip, etc.

    Finally, I think I’d probably use the aliases of spouses/children of people in the legislative branch.

    That being said, I am already pulled aside for additional screening 90% of the time. I always seem to wind up with the code on my ticket. Maybe I am on it. Hrmmmm…

  31. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    FlamingPB @70:

    I think that the individual, the discrete, the separate, should always get first consideration over the collective, the societal, the community-driven. I think this because individuals can exist without collectives, but collectives cannot exist without individuals.

    Okay. You’re still assimilating Ayn Rand. We’ve all been there.

    Cutting back on the verbal aggression is a good move. If you can do that, it’ll give you access to a much wider range of conversations. For an even better effect, try being more concise. The same thoughts look much snappier when they’re said at shorter length. Also, your audience has less time to argue with you while they’re reading it, which tends to make it more convincing. You wouldn’t think a thing like that would work, but it does.

  32. bardfinn says:

    #36: Perspective? I will give you perspective: The Federalist Papers. There’s some perspective. The Constitution. The Bill of Rights. There’s some perspective. The notion that it is better to let ten guilty men walk free than to deny one innocent man his freedom: there’s some perspective. Read some of the works of the Founding Fathers, and you will understand the perspective.

    #37: I prefer Hogan’s Law: A lot of Nazis signed up for a steady job and three square meals (Schultz) or because their career is all they knew (Klink). Their unthinking bureaucracy and willingness to look the other way (I know nutzing!) were all that was necessary for the triumph of evil. Thankfully, knowing those things helps us overcome.
    I’m tired of Godwin’s Law – it enables the Sergeant Schulz attitude.

    There is no “constructive help”. There’s nothing you, nor anyone else you know, can do. Large parts of the government of the United States, including those that control access to flying for business travel, operate EXTRA-LEGALLY. You’re an attorney – still, there’s /nothing you can do/. You can’t even find out how he got on the list, much less do anything to get him off. It’s OUTSIDE THE LAW.

    You /could/ try making large donations to various G.O.P. politicians and Republican (Right-Wing Fundamentalist Christian) charities until your friend’s name mysteriously vanishes from the list. Good luck with that.

  33. kripes says:

    #39: You maybe miss my point. The emphasis on there being one MILLION names on the list is what demands perspective. Oh- and don’t presume to give me a “reading assignment” on freedoms. I’m as well-versed on these matters as the next guy. But since you were kind enough to recommend something for me to read (re-read, as it happens), I’ll return the favor and recommend “Innumeracy” by John Allen Paulos. Has to do with numbers and how we bald monkeys just don’t handle them well in many circumstances. I think you’ll hate it. But it’d be good for you.

  34. buddy66 says:

    Canuck,

    I’ll pour one now to Kursk. It broke the back of Nazi Germany; and we didn’t have the grace to thank them. RIP, indeed.

  35. mdhatter says:

    It does scare me that airport screeners have access to anything secret. They can’t even rifle through my bags without making a mess of it.

  36. relain says:

    Does no one else find all this hey-ho i guess our glorious Columbia is doomed to head the way of the Weimar somewhat annoying, at least rather counter productive.

    As naiively optimistic as it may be there are still things that can be done to stop this from happening. There is still time to rouse the rabble, so to speak.

    I guess what i’m trying to say is that i’m bored of ironic cynicism.

  37. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    You know what? I’m going to say something that sounds pretty callous here, but even if they DO one day catch some terrorist, I DON’T CARE! It has already cost too much and it’s just not worth it.

    Look: Terrorists aren’t supermen. Now that we know that they’re willing to crash planes into buildings, even if they are able to smuggle some kind of weapon on board, the passengers will deal with them.

    And if there are fatalities, well, how much have we spent? $100 Billion? $500 Billion? How many lives has this program saved? It’s just not worth it.

    And if you claim that 200 lives is worth $500 Billion, then we should reduced the speed limit to 35 mph.

  38. flamingphonebook says:

    #80

    All that as may be, I still can’t proceed logically from it. A person is something that exists physically, that can be configured into collectives. A collective is something that exists conceptually, that requires individuals. Because of that, no matter what the consequences, I have to believe that the greatest benefits of the collectives is outweighed by the slightest whim of the individual.

    And that brings forth another point. I’m looking for the extremes. The real-world consequences are less important to me than if the proof looks good on paper. Because the real world will always change, but 2+2 is always going to be 4. I’m seeking Truth, not facts. The kind of Truth where you say, “OK, figured that out, don’t need to think about it any more.” I want to reduce humanity down to the numbers. I can understand disagreement with that, but I reserve the right to reduce myself so.

    #81

    Actually I got through Rand about a decade ago, though I still enjoy reading the fiction once in a while. On politics I agree with her. Not beyond that.

    “Cutting back on the verbal aggression is a good move. If you can do that, it’ll give you access to a much wider range of conversations.”

    Ah, but when do I get to the stage where I can throw out my own analogue to comment 13 with the same results?

  39. Xopher says:

    Callous? I’d call that sense, Keeper!

    I had coworkers die in 9/11. If I’d gone in to work the same time Tuesday as Monday, I’d’ve died myself (without doubt: no one on my floor got out alive).

    I would rather have 100 9/11s than have America become the kind of place it really looks like it’s becoming.

  40. Ugly Canuck says:

    As to the topic at hand: Have these guys at the Airports caught anybody? Anybody at all? If not, what’s with the Hassle factory?
    Sheesh! Making a list,checking in twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice….at every boarding gate in America.

  41. Michael says:

    So wait, Teresa — doing the math from your dandy list, that means that the fucktards at TSA have put 300,000 new names on the list since March?

    Jesus, I wish I got paid for doing that little thinking. Classic scam, if you ask me. Make Money Fast with Terrorism!

  42. Michael says:

    Kulervo #37 – there’s been no constructive help because there is no help. Literally. This may be the first time you’ve encountered this, but the problem is years old, and is simple: the list is a secret. The law governing the list is secret. The policy of the airlines is secret.

    There is no mechanism to take names off. The TSA improbably maintains that all those names need to be on there because they’re terrorists.

    So we have largely ignored you because there’s no answer, not if you still consider America to be government for the people and by the people. Because this list shows it’s not. Sorry to disappoint you. Consider writing your Congressman, if you don’t mind getting put on the list.

    StupidPhoneBook #15, I live in Puerto Rico. Please tell me how I can travel without using planes, and I might grant you the status of non-moron. Otherwise, bub, you’re disemvowelled and stupid.

  43. Takuan says:

    the common scum must learn their place. That is reason enough.

  44. Antinous says:

    Flaming,

    I find your whole argument best summed up by your phrase, “I have to believe”. It says a lot about your thought process, which you have laid out more fully. Guns don’t kill people; ideologues kill people.

  45. gabu says:

    VERY bad news for Mr. Buttle.

  46. keratacon says:

    Robert is fine, but that Hellhound on his trail has been on the Do Not Fly list since day one.

  47. bshock says:

    And then there’s “Anti-Godwin’s Law”: anyone who brings up Godwin’s law to stifle a discussion — despite the fact that the parallel drawn with Hitler or Nazi Germany is quite apt — loses.

  48. bardfinn says:

    #40: Kripes:

    I’ve read it. I understand it. (Innumeracy, I mean). 0.3% of 100 million is still UNACCEPTABLE. The United States is supposed to be about the Rule of Law for /everyone/, not merely for /a vast majority/. The United States is supposed to be about Liberty and Justice for ALL, not for merely /a vast majority/.

    ONE person declared a terrorist by the Executive Branch and denied, extralegally, his Natural Human Rights – is unacceptable, because it means that the law no longer applies to /anyone/.

  49. mdhatter says:

    @44 – guru (ftw!)

    I’m sure Central Services will sort it out.

  50. Ugly Canuck says:

    Don’t be a simple-minded materialist, now, a “physical” entity is still pretty abstract, since we can only use words to discuss them, which kind of instantly puts them on the same level as any other conceptual entity capable of discussion, whether or not the terms correspond to something which can be described as “physical” ie. any group.
    You see groups are like Santa Claus or God…they exist because everybody knows what we mean by the term..
    Let’s try another example. A spoon. A fork.
    The spoon is not the Fork.
    The fork is not the spoon.
    Is the difference between them located in the atoms of the spoon? No.
    Is the difference between them located in the atoms of the fork? No.
    Is the difference between them located in the physical space that separates the Fork from the Spoon? No.
    The difference between them is an idea, a product of ideation just as is the difference between your “physical individual” and “abstract collective” entities…
    At root I guess I’m saying that reality is more subtle than you are willing to admit.
    I shall leave you with a complex lie for your further reflection: “All truth is simple.”
    ‘Nuff Said. Excelsior!

  51. flamingphonebook says:

    OK, I have to conclude. But is it the rigor you’re against?

  52. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    OK, no one’s reading this anymore.

    But in terms of screeners, what do you expect from people that were a step above welfare? They’ve been powerless and crapped on their whole lives, and by God they’re not going to miss out on this chance to stick it to someone else, and experience what power feels like.

  53. EH says:

    DHS says its less than 400K for whatever that is worth. They claim that number does not take into account removals and aliases.

    Right, all of those names are on the “Removals and Aliases” list right behind the watch list.

  54. Antinous says:

    I wouldn’t choose the word ‘rigor’. I associate ‘rigor’ with rigorous self-discipline. If things really go to hell in the US, I would be surprised if you were willing to apply your own rules to yourself. I don’t mean this as a personal comment about you, but as a general observation of human nature.

  55. buddy66 says:

    “All truth is simple.”

    FLYING LESSON

    Most things are simple,
    but don’t confuse simple with easy.
    Flying for instance:
    All you have to do
    is climb to a high place,
    throw yourself at the ground
    and miss.

  56. flamingphonebook says:

    “You see groups are like Santa Claus or God…they exist because everybody knows what we mean by the term..”

    Except they don’t exist, not in the same way a fork or an atom or I exist. Or, if they do, and anything conceivable carries equal existence, then we have a universe cluttered with invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, and so forth. In which case it’s deuces wild, and I can claim that I myself exist as a greater collective than all others combined.

  57. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    Well, if they the names of every citizen and resident of the US into that database, then we’ll know for sure that the terrorists are included.

  58. mrfitz says:

    Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Henry

  59. Takuan says:

    yay! Next: 10,000,000!!

  60. nprnncbl says:

    @eljesusmartinez #68, and concerning other comments about innumeracy: the TSA blog entry linked to in pmocek’s comments (#33) is loaded with innumeracy and duplicity.

    A commenter at that blog pointed out that the 2 million passenges is likely an overestimate, not taking into account that there are many individuals who are on more than one flight per day. At the same time, the numbers they provide for their secret lists are based on distinct individuals.

    This distinction of individuals/names/records is real doublespeak: of course Senator “Ted Kennedy,” the individual, is not on the list; just the terrorist “T Kennedy.”

    What they do not address: how many Americans have names that match one on the list? How many people are flagged per day based on the list? How many people have ultimately been denied boarding because of matching the list? How many of them were consequently arrested (and prosecuted) on terrorism-related charges? (Ugly Canuck #84 sums it up.) My guess is that if this last number were anything more than zero, they would be bragging about it.

    You know you’re being hoodwinked when the TSA blog begins:

    MYTH: TSA’s watch list has more than 1 million names on it.

    BUSTER: First, TSA doesn’t have a watch list.

    Yeah, right. We don’t have a list; we’re just using someone else’s.

    And yes, TRIP provides a mechanism to request to be removed from the list; but their response is essentially: we can’t tell you anything.

    I’m sorry if this post is incoherent; the unapologetic descent into a secret, authoritarian, unaccountable government just makes me livid.

  61. Nylund says:

    I think one long-run tactic for ending this nonsense is to encourage the growth of the list to the point of absolute and undeniable absurdity. Grow it to the point where every household has at least one member with a name on the list then the government will be forced to admit the preposterous nature of the list.

  62. Kieran O'Neill says:

    #1: Not quite. They’d need to put everyone in the world on the list if they wanted to be sure.

  63. mikelotus says:

    DHS says its less than 400K for whatever that is worth. They claim that number does not take into account removals and aliases.

  64. mightymouse1584 says:

    #3. you beat me to it. Id totally encourage this list to just keep growing to the point that it is impossible to deny it uselessness. Lets face it, we wont be able to shrink it back to a useable state any more. If its going to be useless we may as well make it impossibly useless.

  65. ZippySpincycle says:

    Kulervo @37: I don’t know that this will really get your friend any farther than banging his head against a brick wall, but the TSA blog mentioned above has a link for the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP–isn’t that sweet?). No idea whether that actually would help.

  66. Xopher says:

    Teresa 58, Keeper 60: Thank you. One of these few things where I’m a primary source.

    Teresa again, 66: Brava!

  67. AndAnotherThing says:

    Nelson Mandella is on the list and needs special permission to enter the US…

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-04-30-watchlist_N.htm

  68. AndAnotherThing says:

    Sorry, just found a more recent story, turns out you can be removed from the list:

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/07/01/mandela.watch/

  69. bardfinn says:

    #53: As I mentioned before, common everyday bureaucracy often enables true totalitarian evil.

  70. HarveyBoing says:

    Whatever the count, it’s under-estimating to say “that’s a million suspected terrorists…who will [be harassed]“, because many of the names are shared by many people.

    A million names on the list could easily be 10 million people who will be harassed.

  71. Cory Doctorow says:

    Re DHS saying it’s only 400K plus aliases: yes, but those aliases are *distinct names*. It doesn’t matter how many “real terrorists” the list refers to, it matters how wide a net the list casts, because this is what ends up catching non-terrorists.

    IOW: if the list has “Robert Johnson,” “Bob Johns,” and “John Robertson” as aliases for a single individual, they *should* be counted as three names, because that’s three different strings that will trigger false positives against honest people who share these common names.

    Re “You can be removed from the list.” Mandela isn’t off the list, he just has a special permanent dispensation to travel despite being on the list.

  72. Slizzered says:

    RE: Robert Johnson…

    1- If selling your soul to the devil at the crossroads is reason enough to be put on the list, it’s only a matter of time before that old lady who makes our cows’ milk go sour ends up on it.

    2- Cory says: “if the list has “Robert Johnson,” “Bob Johns,” and “John Robertson” as aliases for a single individual, they *should* be counted as three names, because that’s three different strings that will trigger false positives against honest people who share these common names.”

    How about this Alias: John G. Roberts? (As in Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). Sounds awfully close to me.

  73. nordicapollo says:

    I agree with #3 and #6. The idea ties in nicely with the story “Little Brother”. Increase the list to the point when it becomes not only unusable and unwieldable, but also to the point when it so annoys so many unaware citizens that there is a popular backlash.

  74. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Xopher, 9/11 was horrible, and I know it’s been hard for you to deal with it, but I’m truly grateful to have you in this discussion.

  75. kapusta says:

    sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL!

  76. BritSwedeGuy says:

    The real ‘terrorists’ must be high fiving each other now.

  77. flamingphonebook says:

    “denied the fundamental right to travel”

    Smn s hldng ths mlln ppl? Dnyng thm crs? Rfsng vn t lt thm wlk? r thr ft bnd?

    h, thy’r bng dnd th blty t *fly*. mssd whr tht’s rght.

  78. stratosfyr says:

    The names are those of known owners of very nice laptops.

  79. Marcel says:

    Okay, here’s what I don’t understand. If you believe somebody is a terrorist, and you discover he/she is boarding a plane trying to get into your country, or another part of your country, isn’t that exactly what you want?
    I mean let’s face it, you know their present location, you have thoroughly checked the contents of their luggage, and they are on their way to your country, or a known location inside your country, where you know you have the juristiction to screw around with them, violate their rights to your heart’s content and incarcerate them for as long as you please.

    Or is this a case of harrassing the subversive element who keeps lending those pesky Noam Chomsky books from the local library? In that case, you can count on that list getting a lot longer in the near future.

  80. Custodian of the Two Holy Balls says:

    Not one day without shaking my head about the land of the formerly free. A couple of options come to my mind what this million of people could contribute to the benefit of the reigning few:

    a) The Great Oil Rush: build a Gulag (= Russian for Guantanamo) in Alaska and have them drill for oil with cheap tools from North Korea.

    b) Move them to Texas and have the paint the vessels of the newly re-activated fleet for South America with a mixture of toxic waste and waste oil. Inevitable environmental pollutions should be blamed on Chavez.

    c) Position them along the Mexican border and have the stone to death every living being getting too close without permission of the CIA.

    d) Send them to sub-Saharan Africa and have them tell everyone the global warming is a cool thing.

  81. padster123 says:

    Ach, god, when is all this insane shit going to END?!!

  82. strider_mt2k says:

    This is certainly a wonderful thing.

  83. refrud says:

    If i leave a comment on this post will that make it 1,000,001?

  84. hagbard says:

    #57 BARDFINN

    Yes, and you know what else enables true totalitarian evil? Citizens not exercising their citizenship. Politicians putting electoral politics ahead of the constitution they swore to uphold. Voters voting for such politicians and calling it pragmatism. Etc, etc…

  85. demidan says:

    Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
    Ãœber alles in der Welt,
    Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
    Brüderlich zusammenhält.
    Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
    Von der Etsch bis an den Belt,
    |: Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
    Ãœber alles in der Welt!
    and Have a safe flight!

  86. EtaWat says:

    #15
    “Oh, they’re being denied the ability to *fly*. I missed where that’s a right.”

    Shockingly enough, the ability to drive does limit you to two continents, the North and South Americas. Some of us have to fly to get anywhere (think islands in the middle of the sea..)

  87. jimkirk says:

    Check out the DHS 5 year anniversary poster.
    “One Team, One Mission: Securing the Homeland”.
    http://www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/programs/gc_1169676919316.shtm

    Is it just me, or it the logo, er, um, rather phallic?

  88. Connie H. says:

    Among others who have had travel trouble with names on the list: Edward Kennedy and John Lewis.

    They have both been able to circumvent the problem by adding their middle initials to their travel documents.

    Good thing the terrorists don’t have the imagination to figure out how to beat the system.

  89. zeta says:

    Demidan, what is your problem? What has a song about the unification of the german states to do with a US-Watchlist?

  90. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    Xopher:
    You rule for saying that.
    I myself am a New Yorker and consider myself deeply affected by 9/11. I worked in the concourse during college, and my wife and I had our one of our first dates up in the observation center.So it’s not like I don’t care.

    BUT, this whole ‘security’ nonsense is just an excuse for pumping the coastal tax dollars into the vast hellhole between the east and west coasts.

    You know what? I don’t need protecting, and don’t want it. I’m willing to take my chances and protect myself. And if one in every million planes goes down, well, that’s bad but it won’t be any worse than the odds I face driving a car or walking down the street and getting hit by lightning. In any event, it’s just not worth it: Let’s spend that ‘security’ money on some of the other more probable risks we face.

    Oh, and if our country stops monkeying around in the middle east, that’ll help too.

  91. Kaiser Korndog says:

    There’s an error in the article. Mr. Doctorow clearly refers to “the fundamental right to travel”. He’s off base here. While Homeland Security Agents turned on my laptop and snooped around in my files I was informed that “travel is a privelege not a right” and that “I could be detained” and so presumably should be happy that I was only having everything near and dear to me rifled through.

  92. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Kaiser Korndog @24:

    There’s an error in the article. Mr. Doctorow clearly refers to “the fundamental right to travel”. He’s off base here. While Homeland Security Agents turned on my laptop and snooped around in my files I was informed that “travel is a privelege not a right” and that “I could be detained” and so presumably should be happy that I was only having everything near and dear to me rifled through.

    Kaiser, you should write to your representatives about that. If the TSA is teaching its personnel that travel is a privilege rather than a right, they need to be corrected, and soon.

    Kulervo @28: Part of the reason I rounded up all those previous BB entries on this subject was to show you that people in this thread aren’t just being know-nothings. There really are no legal restraints on the listkeepers, and no established procedures for correcting and redressing errors.

    Kripes @36:

    1,000,000 = a little less than 0.3% of the population. (Did I do my math right?)

    Yeah, a million is a “big” number, but let’s keep it in perspective.

    Excuse me? In what context is it reasonable to have a million names on that list? That’s more than 363 times as many people as were killed in NYC on 9/11. The estimated NYC 9/11 deaths: 2,750 total. If you added that many names to the list EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR, minus Christmas and New Year’s, you’d have a list as long as the one the U.S. currently maintains.

    Bear in mind that we’re not talking about a million people. We’re talking about everyone who matches one of those million names. Some of them are extremely common: Gary Smith. John Williams. Robert Johnson. Sam Adams. Dennis Wilson. David Nelson. Edward Allen. John Lewis. John Graham. James Moore.

    As of the beginning of this year, a quick Yahoo search on “Robert Johnson” turned up 12,156 Roberts Johnson who had listed phone numbers. That figure has to be low, given that phoneless small children are harassed and inconvenienced for having names that match the list. And “Robert Johnson” is only one name out of the million.

    Moreover, the list includes surnames paired with a single initial letter — for instance, “T. Kennedy.” That means every person named Tim Kennedy, Tom Kennedy, Teresa, Toshiko, Tilly, Tara, Trixie, Tenn, Travis, Truman, Tony, Tiberius, Tiffany, Thecla, Tonia, Trinidad, Tadeusz, Tzeitel, Tadhg, Topher, Tariq, Tancredo, Thanh, Thurston, Tammy, Terry, Tuesday, Thorbjorn, Thalia, Thierry, Theda, Thelonius, Tito, or Takuan Kennedy, not to mention Senator Ted Kennedy, gets stopped. They also list unaccompanied surnames, so that (for instance) all the McPhees get stopped.

    At any moment, a name that matches your own could get added to the list.

    It’s unjust, an affront to our civil liberties, and a huge waste of time, money, and human attention for every one of the people who happens to bear a name that’s on the list. But wait! There’s more! It’s also grossly inconvenient and wasteful for every person they travel with! And because it’s such a huge, unwieldy, and arbitrary system, it’s ineffective security!

    So, you tell me: what’s the perspective that will make the no-fly list seem reasonable?

  93. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    FlamingPhoneBook @15, the aggressive tone of your comments would be more tolerable if what you said in them were more thoughtful. Or, to come at it from a different angle: not putting a lot of thought into your comments would be more tolerable if you took a less aggressive tone in them.

    Exercising both bad habits at once would be irritating, but not a flogging offense, if you only did it occasionally. However, over time it’s become increasingly clear that this is your preferred or habitual mode. It’s likewise clear that you don’t listen very well, and that the educational aspects of disemvowelling are lost on you.

    You’re not far from getting a three-day suspension. If that happens, please understand that it’s primarily meant to draw your attention to the fact that there’s a problem, after lesser means have failed.

  94. Avram says:

    The complaint that FlamingPhoneBook made — that there’s no right to air travel — is one that pops up pretty frequently in these discussions, so I figure I might do the service of actually addressing it.

    Sure, the US Constitution does not explicitly enumerate a right to air travel. Likewise, it does not enumerate a right to use the Internet. Neither the Internet nor air travel existed in the 18th century.

    The Bill of Rights does enumerate rights to freedom of the press, and of speech. This does not mean, however, that Congress could pass a law banning all green-eyed people from the Internet, and then justify that decision by saying “Hey, the Constitution doesn’t grant a right to Internet use, and green-eyed people can exercise their rights of free speech and the press by using actual printing presses, or standing on soap boxes in public parks.”

    Banning an arbitrary group from a particular activity that the general public can use does constitute a violation of that group’s rights to engage in that activity. Since air travel exists, and the general public can make use of it, to arbitrarily ban some people from using it does impinge on their right of freedom of movement by making their movement excessively onerous.

    Oh, and for people claiming that there’s no general right to freedom of movement: It’s enshrined in Article 42 of the Magna Carta (the basis for much of American common law), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and has been recognized by a number of US Supreme Court cases going back at least as far as the early 19th century.

  95. HarveyBoing says:

    You maybe miss my point. The emphasis on there being one MILLION names on the list is what demands perspective

    Interesting that you’re referencing “Innumeracy” but haven’t done the math.

    With as many a 2 million passengers per day, even if only 0.3% are selected via the watch list (and as I pointed out, because of duplicate names within the population, the number could be much higher), that’s still 6000 people being harassed every day.

    Now, you may think that’s a reasonable number, but personally I don’t. I don’t think anyone should be harassed without probable cause, and there’s simply no probable cause associated with this list of names.

  96. eljesusmartinez says:

    we’re right on schedule with the myths!

    from “http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/07/myth-buster-tsas-watch-list-is-more.html”

    (the last line kind of leaves a creepy aftertaste)

    “MYTH: The ACLU’s math estimates that there will be 1 million people on government watch lists this July.

    BUSTER: Assumptions about the list are just plain wrong. While a September 2007 report may have said that there are 700,000 records on the terrorist watch list and it was growing by an average of 20,000 per month, that is not the same as the number of individuals on the watch lists. A new “record” is created for every alias, date-of-birth, passport and other identifying information for watch listed suspects. The ACLU does not account for the name-by-name scrub that took place in the Fall of 2007 by all government agencies involved with the lists through the Terrorist Screening Center. This review reduced the no-fly and selectee lists by almost 50 percent and eliminated records of individuals that no longer pose a threat.”

    hmm . . . seems like there is one way to get off the list . . .

  97. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    El Jesus Martinez @68:

    This review reduced the no-fly and selectee lists by almost 50 percent and eliminated records of individuals that no longer pose a threat.

    If they’re implying that all the people on that list previously posed a threat, they’re not even trying to tell the truth.

Leave a Reply