How Big is the Terrorist Watch List?

The Washington Post is reporting that the CIA is keeping over 325,000 names in a central database.

An NCTC official refused to say how many on the list -- put together from reports supplied by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies -- are U.S. citizens. [...] Asked whether the names in the repository were collected through the NSA's domestic intelligence intercept program, the NCTC official said, "Our database includes names of known and suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community organizations, including NSA."

"If being placed on a list means in practice that you will be denied a visa, barred entry, put on the no-fly list, targeted for pretextual prosecutions, etc., then the sweep of the list and the apparent absence of any way to clear oneself certainly raises problems," said David D. Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who has been sharply critical of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies.

And now, onto the functional problem:
The government has been trying to streamline what counterterrorism officials say are more than 26 terrorism-related databases compiled by agencies throughout the intelligence and law enforcement communities. Names from the NCTC list are provided to the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), which in turn provides names for watch lists maintained by the Transportation Security Administration and other agencies.


The NCTC then sends a subset of the repository list to the FBI's screening center, and each entry includes a reference "to how the individual is associated with international terrorism," according to a June 2005 report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. This reference is assigned one of 25 codes such as "Member of a Foreign Terrorist Organization," "Hijacker" or "Has Engaged in Terrorism," according to the report. The report also notes that the codes are split in two categories: "Individuals who are considered armed and dangerous and those who are not."

Fine's office criticized the TSC for including nearly 32,000 records of people in the "armed and dangerous" category but giving them the lowest handling code, which means that no report needs to be sent back to the FBI if they are encountered in the United States by law enforcement officers.

So what they're saying is that if these guys are in the United States and stopped for speeding, the cop isn't going to know that these guys are Terrorists, considered by the US Government to be armed and dangerous, and is going to issue them a ticket and send them on their way. Great. I feel MUCH safer.

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