Who’s on the FBI’s Ter­ror­ist Watch­list?

Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - INTELLIGENCE REPORT -

The FBI’s list of known or sus­pected ter­ror­ists in­cludes more than 400,000 peo­ple, about 2% of them U.S. cit­i­zens. The FBI says its Ter­ror­ist Watch­list is a use­ful tool for in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts, but oth­ers say it’s too big to be help­ful and en­dan­gers the rights of peo­ple who may be in­cluded without just cause.

Ac­cord­ing to FBI fig­ures, the list con­tin­ues to grow. The Ter­ror­ist Screen­ing Cen­ter ( TSC) eval­u­ates up to 1200 new pieces of in­for­ma­tion each day, in­clud­ing ad­di­tions, dele­tions, and mod­i­fi­ca­tions to ex­ist­ing en- tries sub­mit­ted by law-en­force­ment agen­cies across the coun­try.

What qual­i­fies some­one for the list? TSC of­fi­cials won’t say but in­sist that peo­ple are in­cluded only if they meet a stan­dard of “rea­son­able sus­pi­cion” af­ter re­view by the TSC and sev­eral other gov­ern­ment agen­cies. You’ll never know if you’re on the list—it’s classified. Peo­ple who sus­pect they might be listed without cause can file a re­quest through the Trav­eler Re­dress In­quiry Pro­gram web­site, which is then re­viewed by of­fi­cials. Chad Kolton, a TSC spokesman, says the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans who in­quire about their sta­tus are not, in fact, on the watch list.

But Christo­pher Cal­abrese, leg­isla­tive coun­sel at the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, claims that the sys­tem al­lows too many peo­ple to come un­der scru­tiny and di­verts the at­ten­tion of au­thor­i­ties from real threats. “ Ev­ery day, they are de­cid­ing that more and more peo­ple are ter­ror­ists,” he says. “At a min­i­mum, th­ese peo­ple will have a hard time fly­ing, and the sus­pi­cion that they are ter­ror­ists will be shared with lo­cal law en­force­ment.”

De­spite its size, Kolton in­sists that the watch list is work­ing as in­tended: “It helps com­bat ter­ror­ism, pe­riod.”

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