The national Terrorist Watch List has now crossed one million names — that's a million suspected terrorists (including nuns, members of Congress, and people named "Robert Johnson") who will spend their days being harassed, denied the fundamental right to travel, and punished for having a name vaguely like the name used by someone who may or may not be a terrorist. There's no way to get off the list, and the list (and the criteria for adding names to it) are secret.
"America's new million record watch list is a perfect symbol for what's wrong with this administration's approach to security: it's unfair, out-of-control, a waste of resources, treats the rights of the innocent as an afterthought, and is a very real impediment in the lives of millions of travelers in this country," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program. "It must be fixed without delay."
"Putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee that the list will do more harm than good by interfering with the travel of innocent people and wasting huge amounts of our limited security resources on bureaucratic wheel-spinning," said Steinhardt. "I doubt this thing would even be effective at catching a real terrorist."
Controls on the watch lists called for by the ACLU included:
* due process
* a right to access and challenge data upon which listing is based
* tight criteria for adding names to the lists
* rigorous procedures for updating and cleansing names from the lists.