One Million Terrorists

Via Yglesias, the ACLU reports that the Bush Administration has added the one millionth person to its terrorist watch list:

The nation's terrorist watch list has hit one million names, according to a tally maintained by the American Civil Liberties Union based upon the government's own reported numbers for the size of the list. "Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other 'suspicious characters,' with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress needs to fix it, the Terrorist Screening Center needs to fix it, or the next president needs to fix it, but it has to be done soon."

Hmm. Do you doubt they are all being surveilled under the FISA Capitulation Act?

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  • Display: Sort:
    We should call it the government surveillance (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by masslib on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:41:46 PM EST
    bill.  That's how we should have framed it from the start.  It's more intuitive than FISA.

    Yep. (none / 0) (#6)
    by madamab on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:43:00 PM EST
    We Dems suck pretty badly at framing. And the fact that the media is never on our side means we have to be really awesome at it.

    framing is everything (none / 0) (#20)
    by aquarian on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:44:55 PM EST
    Jim Webb tried to reframe Iraq: we won the war, now we need to end the occupation.  Harry Reid kept referring to the war -- after the American people sent an undeniable mandate to Congress to get us out of Iraq.

    Bah.  We keep playing on the Republican playground.  Time to bring in our own playsets.  


    wii 2 stoop id... (none / 0) (#31)
    by Dadler on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:07:46 PM EST
    ...2 doo dat.

    Deep irony (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by scribe on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:59:22 PM EST
    the former Assistant Attorney General Jim Robinson (i.e., one of the top prosecutors in the US) and current possessor of a top secret clearance (only issued after an actual investigator does a background investigation, including asking actual people actual questions) is also on the list.

    I guess it's because he was on the job during a Democratic administration.

    Wow... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by kdog on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:35:05 PM EST
    good luck with that bueracratic nightmare scenario man.

    You are exhibit A of why such lists are a bad idea...always a bad idea.  Some poor innocent slob always ends up on 'em...always.  The end does not justify those means...no way.

    Not saying the list will help catch a single terrorist or anything...I'd be very surprised if it did.

    Do They Give Prizes (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by john horse on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:36:04 PM EST
    for being the one millionth terrorist?  How about a lifetime supply of duct tape?

    Like the color coded terrorism chart, the terrorist watch list was basically a means for the Bush administration to keep us in a state of fear. Because when we are afraid we don't stop to think. We are willing to give up our liberty for security. So be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Because a horrible thing is coming this way (see my cartoon here).

    a life time's supply of Semtex (none / 0) (#34)
    by Salo on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:17:28 PM EST
    and minaturized detonators stolen from Saddam's old magazines in Iraq more likely.

    I don't doubt it. (none / 0) (#1)
    by madamab on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:34:42 PM EST
    That's why I call the warrantless wiretapping the "Democrat Surveillance Program" (DSP).

    Cheney learned a lot under Nixon.

    Ha! we had vaguely the same concept. (none / 0) (#4)
    by masslib on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:42:12 PM EST
    Mine is more specific and (none / 0) (#7)
    by madamab on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:43:43 PM EST
    tin-foil-hatty. I like yours better. :-)

    If I were king and I had (none / 0) (#35)
    by Salo on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:19:48 PM EST
    that sort of spying power given to me (ona platter) and lacky's to carry it out, i'd spy on every single one of my political opponents.

    What would be the point of the NSA and CIA otherwise?


    OMG, that's what I'd do too ... !!! (none / 0) (#37)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:52:54 PM EST
    I already keep my enemies close and frankly they have begun to bore me.

    Spying on YOURs too would be a nice change of pace.


    Has anyone asked Eliot Spitzer's opinion on that? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:27:52 PM EST
    Really, anyone who thinks that the Bush admin hasn't abused their snooping "powers" for partisan gain and applied them already hasn't been paying attention.

    They've already incidentally been caught in flagrante more egregiously than Spitzer even pre-Iraq, when several members of the UN and UNSC were being scoped before that all-important second vote on Iraq pre-empted by Bush's unilateral decision to drop the bombs with his "coalition of the willing".

    They were caught in flagrante influencing the '02 elections and we all, of course, know how '04 turned out.

    Dem computers were compromised beforehand but the All Talc No Action Jellycrats didn't want to pick the "wrong" fight, don'cha know.

    Even now, they're figuring that Obama's the KEY to keeping the Repugs from doing what they always do: Leak Awkward Dirt on the Dems while having no idea how sensitive classified stuff got out there, during Bush's War on Whatever, during the Clinton era witchhunts, Iran-Contra, the Nixon era ...

    Well the NuSkool Dems and their short pants kingmakers currently excuse Obama's flop on the FISA mess because it might stall the all important ride of the rickety Boss Machine to the very brink of the halls of power.

    Yeah, let's just assume, for no reason whatsoever, that the Bush admin hasn't abused secret, warrantless surveillance for partisan gain during an election year.

    C'mon, Dems, wake the f*ck up already. Stop being such complete jackasses that you're not only willing permanently to accept breathing pachydermal @ss-fumes as a substitute for oxygen but actually have come to PREFER IT.


    I call international all the time (none / 0) (#32)
    by Salo on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:11:45 PM EST
    I'm almost certainly monitored.  I'd guess anyone with a Dkos or TL account is monitored as well. Perfect waste of limited intel resources of course.

    Them, and anybody they talk to, (none / 0) (#3)
    by ineedalife on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:42:01 PM EST
    and anybody that they talk to talk to, and on and on.

    There aren't enough people in the country to make six degrees of separation from the terror watch list anymore.

    I'm not sweating the million.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:42:54 PM EST
    names the govt. has, I've got my own list going.  So far the president and his cabinet, the Senate, the House, the DOJ, the CIA, the FBI, the DEA, the NSA, the ICE, the HLS, and the Pentagon are on there, and it's growing everyday.

    Charming (none / 0) (#8)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 03:49:00 PM EST
    The problem is, let's say you have the power to clean up the terrorist watch list.  If you do nothing, oh well, the list just grows.  But if you take someone off the list and they commit a terrorist act, you become history's greatest villain.  Thus, your only rational course is to allow the thing to grow to the point of uselessness, out of pure CYA.

    If you leave them on the list (none / 0) (#11)
    by dianem on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:05:01 PM EST
    ...and they commit a terrorist act, it's worse. If they prune down the list to reasonable suspects and actually monitor those people, then at least they have a chance of catching an actual terrorist. If they can't, then this is just a stupid bureaucratic exercise that is inconveniencing millions of people with the wrong name.

    Worse? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:19:05 PM EST
    How is it worse?  You did your job, you put the person on the list.  It's someone else's fault.

    How sad that you are right (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:41:27 PM EST
    I prefer to think of it this way, but to no avail of course, that having a whole bunch of folks who should not have been on the list detracted from your ability to capture the REAL terrorists on your list.

    The real 9/11 terrorists were living (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:45:50 PM EST
    in San Diego in rented apartments.  They had overstayed their visas.  The U.S. government has given up on policing people who overstay those visas.  Too complex.

    I think it depends on the goal (none / 0) (#24)
    by dianem on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:20:01 PM EST
    If the goal is to stop terrorists, you pare down the list to actual likely terrorists and watch them. If the goal is to make a really impressive list, showing everybody you've worked really hard to fight terrorism, you make put everybody who ever got a speeding ticket in a school zone on the list.

    It depends (none / 0) (#28)
    by Nadai on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:46:24 PM EST
    on whose goal you're talking about.  The goal of the people who created the program might be to catch terrorists.  The goal of the people who maintain the program is both to catch terrorists and to keep their jobs.

    Listed Because of Ancient Family Members (none / 0) (#10)
    by methuselas baby on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:03:18 PM EST
    I disagree with you, Steve M.  There needs to be challenges to the principles that govern how names are added to the list.  Names can be removed safely, of this I am sure.  Plus, the person removing a name wouldn't be the villain, only badly mistaken.  The terrorist would still be the villain.

    I had not heard about this.  Anybody outspoken and radical in their opposition to government interference in our personal lives probably will probably make this list, if they aren't on it already.  Black latinos with relatives who fought in the Cuban Revolution probably can take it as a given that they are on it.  I had high hopes for my future too.

    Sorry (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:22:01 PM EST
    If a terrorist attack occurs, and people find out the identity of the person who took the perpetrator's name off the terrorist watch list, that person will most definitely be blamed.  I wish I lived in a world where everyone would say "oh well, not their fault, the terrorist is the real villain," but that's not the world we live in.

    I am not making excuses here.  I am merely explaining the system of bureaucratic incentives that leaves us with a useless watch list.  If someone wants to suggest a better system, I'm all for it, but a system that depends on people saying "oh well, even though it might cost me my job and get me blamed for a terrorist attack, I'm going to do the right thing and pare down this list" isn't realistic.


    But it worked for Bush (none / 0) (#17)
    by blogtopus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:15:54 PM EST
    Those guys definitely took as many pains as possible to dismantle / handicap our nation's defenses against terrorism in 2001; nobody got blamed except the DFH who pointed this fact out.



    This needlessly draconian measure avoids what?? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:53:12 PM EST
    If a terrorist attack occurs, and [if] people find out the identity of the person who took the perpetrator's name off the terrorist watch list, that person will most definitely be blamed.

    That's a frail sequence and flimsy outcome on which to justify the ACTUAL BLAMING as near=guilty of a million persons.

    Presumably any individual "most definitely" blamed will have the forum to contest this apparent fate (which I don't accept as a given.)


    Heh (none / 0) (#30)
    by Steve M on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:05:09 PM EST
    I think you missed where I explained that I wasn't trying to justify anything.  I was explaining why things happen this way.

    No, caught that ... :-) (none / 0) (#36)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:45:42 PM EST
    Today's my not letting anything slide day since I'm still stunned at the size of the list. (I think my position on it is roughly equivalent to my 3-digit user membership number at Cheetoh's).

    What I want to know is, who made the cover?


    Yah, people should really be worried about blame. (none / 0) (#41)
    by lizpolaris on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:46:40 AM EST
    After all, it was clearly the pet goat's fault.

    So AC was wrong??? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 04:40:03 PM EST
    It's not "billions"? Only "millions"?

    Whew. What a relief... I take it the WOT is almost over, then?

    I'm pretty sure I'm on a list (none / 0) (#18)
    by blogtopus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 05:18:37 PM EST
    Not only for having a blog that criticized Bush, but also for having the name / career I do.

    I googled it yesterday, and the FIRST entry in the images search was a diagram on how to create a grenade booby trap, or IED. I'm an illustrator / graphic designer by trade, yet I did not create that image, nor would I have.

    PERFECT. I'm surprised I've been able to fly in the past year.

    Now that annoys me. (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:01:04 PM EST

    How do you find out if you're on the list? (none / 0) (#23)
    by Valhalla on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:14:37 PM EST
    Or did you only find out when you tried to use your passport?

    My suggestion (none / 0) (#25)
    by blogtopus on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:29:06 PM EST
    Make it much more public. Do some jujitsu on this outrage, point out how it's OBVIOUSLY due to GOP vengeance, contact the local papers, nat'l papers.

    Someone will have to come up with a reason why you are on that list, right?

    I don't know. I'm probably wayyy too naive about this. This whole kind of list thing is so completely USSR in its paranoia.

    This really upsets me (none / 0) (#38)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:46:47 PM EST
    Getting on the list because someone has a grudge against you (as Donald from Hawaii did), or because of some other mistake,  is exactly how many prisoners ended up at Gitmo.

    It's truly a nightmare.

    Via Yglesias? (none / 0) (#39)
    by TheOkie on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:13:25 AM EST
    Linky goodness in this post.

    Too bad the ACLU got second billing in this post - even though you are writing about their work.

    Why does Yglesias get first link status - or better yet why is he mentioned/linked to at all?

    Did Yglesias discover the millionth person on the terrorist watch list?

    Most likely it's not the Terrorist Watch List (none / 0) (#40)
    by lizpolaris on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:41:39 AM EST
    In reality, it's probably more like the President's/Republican's/Corporation's Enemies List.  How to generate more names for the list?  Easy - just data mine for a few more key words from the cell phone and internet logs the Federal government can now collect at will.  

    I'm wondering just how large that list will get.  Pretty soon, US citizens will need a security clearance level to use public transportation.