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Terror watch list swells to more than 755,000 WASHINGTON — 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.

"It undermines the authority of the list," says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. "There's just no rational, reasonable estimate that there's anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists."

The exact number of people on the list, compiled after 9/11 to help government agents keep terrorists out of the country, is unclear, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Some people may be on the list more than once because they are listed under multiple spellings.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who plans a hearing on the report today, says "serious hurdles remain if (the list) is to be as effective as we need it to be. Some of the concerns stem from its rapid growth, which could call into question the quality of the list itself."

About 53,000 people on the list were questioned since 2004, according to the GAO, which says the Homeland Security Department doesn't keep records on how many were denied entry or allowed into the country after questioning. Most were apparently released and allowed to enter, the GAO says.

Leonard Boyle, director of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, which maintains the list, says in testimony to be given today that 269 foreigners were denied entry in fiscal 2006.

The GAO report also says:

•The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could not specify how many people on its no-fly list, which is a small subset of the watch list, might have slipped through screening and been allowed on domestic flights.

•TSA data show "a number of individuals" on the no-fly list passed undetected through screening and boarded international flights bound for the United States. Several planes have been diverted once officials realized that people named on the watch lists were on board.

•Homeland Security has not done enough to use the list more broadly in the private sector, where workers applying for jobs in sensitive places such as chemical factories could do harm.

Boyle also urges that the list be used by for screening at businesses where workers could "carry out attacks on our critical infrastructure that could harm large numbers of persons or cause immense economic damage."

But the sheer size of the watch list raised the most alarms.

"They are quickly galloping towards the million mark — a mark of real distinction because the list is already cumbersome and is approaching absolutely useless," said Tim Sparapani of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says "creating and maintaining a comprehensive terrorist watch list is an enormous endeavor fraught with technical and tactical challenges."

The report, she says, "underscores the need to make the watch lists more accurate, to improve screening procedures at airports and the ports of entry, and to provide individuals with the ability to seek redress if they believe they have been wrongfully targeted."
 

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Just another example of a bloated government program...
 

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Wow, I remember when that list first came out it seemed like it could be a good idea. Just another example of how poor planning, execution, and follow through can turn a good idea into a joke.
 

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I only have one thing to say: The TSA is the biggest waste of govt time and money ever.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I could understand 5,000, or even 10,000.But 755,000,seems ridiculous.
 

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I could understand 5,000, or even 10,000.But 755,000,seems ridiculous.
It happens. I picture it goes down something like this...

Agent #1: Check out this guy that just popped up on the wire... Syrian born, works out of Egypt... suspected in a whole slew of car bombings. We're talking some rough trade here... guy by the name of Mahmoud Mohamed...
Agent #2: Hmmm... Interpol, FBI, CIA and US Census data show that we have 148,351 Mahmoud Mohameds in the database... when we filter for age and country of origin we're down to 7,489...
Agent #1: Well we better add them all to the watch list to be safe....
Agent #3: You know... the Arabic alphabet doesn't translate directly over... there's multiple spellings of that name...
Agent #2: Good point Johnson! With all known spelling variants... that's 71,672...
Agent #1: Well we have to be safe, add them all. OK next we got a guy up from Venezuela... Manuel Gonzales...

Ronin Z
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It happens. I picture it goes down something like this...

Agent #1: Check out this guy that just popped up on the wire... Syrian born, works out of Egypt... suspected in a whole slew of car bombings. We're talking some rough trade here... guy by the name of Mahmoud Mohamed...
Agent #2: Hmmm... Interpol, FBI, CIA and US Census data show that we have 148,351 Mahmoud Mohameds in the database... when we filter for age and country of origin we're down to 7,489...
Agent #1: Well we better add them all to the watch list to be safe....
Agent #3: You know... the Arabic alphabet doesn't translate directly over... there's multiple spellings of that name...
Agent #2: Good point Johnson! With all known spelling variants... that's 71,672...
Agent #1: Well we have to be safe, add them all. OK next we got a guy up from Venezuela... Manuel Gonzales...

Ronin Z
Good point.
 

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It happens. I picture it goes down something like this...

Agent #1: Check out this guy that just popped up on the wire... Syrian born, works out of Egypt... suspected in a whole slew of car bombings. We're talking some rough trade here... guy by the name of Mahmoud Mohamed...
Agent #2: Hmmm... Interpol, FBI, CIA and US Census data show that we have 148,351 Mahmoud Mohameds in the database... when we filter for age and country of origin we're down to 7,489...
Agent #1: Well we better add them all to the watch list to be safe....
Agent #3: You know... the Arabic alphabet doesn't translate directly over... there's multiple spellings of that name...
Agent #2: Good point Johnson! With all known spelling variants... that's 71,672...
Agent #1: Well we have to be safe, add them all. OK next we got a guy up from Venezuela... Manuel Gonzales...
Ronin Z
HAHA
 

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It happens. I picture it goes down something like this...

Agent #1: Check out this guy that just popped up on the wire... Syrian born, works out of Egypt... suspected in a whole slew of car bombings. We're talking some rough trade here... guy by the name of Mahmoud Mohamed...
Agent #2: Hmmm... Interpol, FBI, CIA and US Census data show that we have 148,351 Mahmoud Mohameds in the database... when we filter for age and country of origin we're down to 7,489...
Agent #1: Well we better add them all to the watch list to be safe....
Agent #3: You know... the Arabic alphabet doesn't translate directly over... there's multiple spellings of that name...
Agent #2: Good point Johnson! With all known spelling variants... that's 71,672...
Agent #1: Well we have to be safe, add them all. OK next we got a guy up from Venezuela... Manuel Gonzales...

Ronin Z
:doh: :banghead: How do you know these things, Mr. Johnson?
 

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If he told you I'm guessing he'd probably have to send you back to FLETC....

JK, I'm guessing it's much less intrusive. He probably just pays attention to $#!+.
 

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I only have one thing to say: The TSA is the biggest waste of govt time and money ever.

WASHINGTON - Government investigators smuggled liquid explosives and detonators past airport security, exposing a dangerous hole in the nation's ability to keep these forbidden items off of airplanes, according to a report made public Wednesday.

The investigators learned about the components to make an improvised explosive device and an improvised incendiary device on the Internet and purchased the parts at local stores, said the report by the Government Accountability Office. Investigators were able to purchase the components for the two devices for under $150, and they studied the published guidelines for screening to determine how to conceal the prohibited items as they went through checkpoint security.At the end of the testing, investigators concluded that terrorists could use publicly available information and a few cheaply available supplies to damage an airplane and threaten passenger safety.

"It is possible to bring the components for several IEDs and one IID through TSA checkpoints and onto airline flights without being challenged by transportation security officers," said the GAO, Congress' investigative arm.

The covert tests were conducted at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at 19 airports in March, May and June of this year. The GAO did not identify the airports.

In August 2006, the TSA changed its screening policies after officials foiled a plot to use liquid explosives to blow up commercial airlines headed toward the U.S.

TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said the exercise tested only one of the agency's 19 layers of security and therefore doesn't mean the overall system is unsafe.

"While people think about us in terms of the checkpoints and they see us as the checkpoints, there's a lot more layers of security," she said. In addition to the checkpoints, the TSA uses different technologies and has officials who check the validity of documents and observe people's behaviors throughout the airport. "Just because somebody gets through one layer doesn't mean they're going to get through all of the layers."

The report released Wednesday is a version of a classified report with sensitive information left out. The report notes that the covert operations were intended to test only security at checkpoints and not all of the TSA's security layers.

The report listed several instances in which investigators were able to make it through security checkpoints while carrying prohibited items:

• On March 23, a TSA screener would not let one investigator through a checkpoint with a small, unlabeled bottle of shampoo, even though it was a legitimate carry-on item. But the same investigator was able to bring through a liquid component of bomb that would start a fire.

• On May 8, an investigator placed coins in his pockets to ensure he would receive a secondary screening at the checkpoint. But after doing a pat-down and using an electronic hand wand, the screener was not able to catch the prohibited items the investigator brought through the checkpoint.

The TSA agreed with the investigators' recommendation to introduce "more aggressive, visible and unpredictable security measures," as well as the recommendation to deploy new detection technologies.
 

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Government agent, drinking beer in sports bar: "hey, that guy at the end of the bar is rooting against the Steelers! Put him on the watch list."
 
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