Thursday, October 25, 2007

Terror Watch List Swells:

A Rorschach Test For Punditry

755,000 Names Now on List

by Mondoreb

News that the terrorist "watch list" has swelled to over 3/4 of a million names can be taken as proof of several things. It's like taking an inkblot test: what you see depends upon your point of view and your agenda.

To civil libertarians, it's proof that the police state is upon us. To the anti-government libertarian, it's evidence that government can't do anything well. To small government conservatives, it's proof that if you subsidize something, you'll get more of it.

It might make terrorists on the home front flinch. Finally, the list will be waved by anti-terror warriors that: Houston, we've got a problem. To the beleaguered air traveler, it's just more bad news with no relief in sight for long lines, irritating delays and invasive searches.

The story from USA Today:
The government's terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names, according to a new government report that has raised worries about the list's effectiveness.

The size of the list, typically used to check people entering the country through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004. Some lawmakers, security experts and civil rights advocates warn that it will become useless if it includes too many people.

Useless? A list maintained by a bloated government bureaucracy? That's hard to believe.

More from CNN:
A Government Accountability Office study out Wednesday said the Terrorist Screening Center's watch list contained approximately 755,000 names. But because many potential suspects have multiple names or aliases on the list, investigators are not certain how many distinct individuals are actually represented.

Officials at the Terrorist Screening Center told CNN in September that the number of individuals on the list is about 300,000.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the "sheer size" of the list raises concerns. Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said the list contains an even higher number of records than 755,000.
So the 'watch list' will be seen as all things to all pundits. What it mostly is: a large government print-out too big to make sense of or assist; with just the right amount of government-inspired snafus to ensure that some air travelers, and few terrorists, will be caught in its web.


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