More Federal Watch List Misadventures

A centralized ‘no-fly’ terrorist watch list that scrutinizes Americans the most has continued to grow at an astonishing rate and currently contains 860,000 names of people suspected of having terrorist ties. Questions pertaining to the size and effectiveness of the list reportedly continue to cause concerns.

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows the terrorist watch list resulted in nearly 20,000 positive ‘matches’ of persons suspected of having terrorist ties in 2006. Because the list is used almost routinely during police stops and domestic air travel, Americans comprise the bulk of the list.

The GAO’s report was presented at a hearing of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee causing Senators to express concern about the size and effectiveness of the list.

The GAO report (PDF, html summary) includes a few new details about the size and operation of the list. More details about the terrorist watch list can be found in the ‘We’re All Terrorists! Watch List Makes 20,000 ‘Matches’ in ’06’ article from Wired.com.

The Terrorist Screening Center

The Terrorist Watch List is run by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), part of the FBI. Nominations for the list come from a variety of government agencies via the National Counter Terrorism Center.

Entries on the watch list are used to check people applying for visas, travellers entering or leaving the country, domestic airline passengers and people stopped by state, local or federal law enforcement according to the GAO report.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is responsible for resolving mismatches that can happen when an innocent person with a similar or same name as a suspected terrorist shows up on the watch list.

According to the report, entries on the list are coded with varying suspected threat levels. Being on the watch list isn’t automatically grounds for being arrested, denied a visa or being denied entry into the country (don’t be surprised however, when you’re treated as guilty until proven innocent by authorities).

At the request of the feds, the GAO removed information detailing how often the list has been used to arrest suspected terrorists, to keep them out of the country or the number of times people were falsely matched to the list. Now if we could get someone at the GAO to leak the original report…

Feds say the terrorist watch list is effective

According to the Wired.com report, analysis of data on the outcomes of encounters revealed that agencies took a range of actions; arresting individuals, denying others entry into the U.S., and most commonly, releasing individuals following questioning and information gathering.

TSC data shows that agencies reported arresting subjects of watch list records for various reasons such as having outstanding arrest warrants, and behavior or actions from an individual during the encounter. Some of the arrests were based on terrorism grounds.

A report from The Voice of America News explains how Homeland Security officials defended the size of the list and said they were working on making sure the individuals on the watch list didn’t get past airline checks.

Room for improvement

Paul Rosenzweig, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary of Policy says great strides have been made and the improvement is quite noticeable but more work needs to be done.

The terrorist watch list has grown from 158,000 names in June 2004 to 860,000 names today and will probably go over one million names in the near future. Clear standards for placing names on the list and removing names from the list are needed.

Leonard Boyle, director of the TSC claims the list is actually much smaller than described in the GAO report due to the fact that some people may be on it more than once if their names are listed under multiple spellings. Boyle says federal agencies have agreed to a set of procedures allowing people who believe they were wrongly added to the watch list a timely, fair and accurate review of their cases.

A review of 105 records from the office of The Justice Department Inspector General found that 38 percent of them had errors and inconsistencies. Further improvement of the quality of the data mined by the TSC is needed since it can increase the risk of not identifying known or suspected terrorists, not to mention the risk of innocent people being repeatedly stopped or detained.

Individuals on the terrorist watch list have boarded flights that had to be diverted. The agencies know that because Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screen all passengers a second time after the airlines for international flights into the U.S. For some reason, the passenger data isn’t sent to the CBP before the flights depart.

While the TSC won’t confirm or deny whether or not an individual is on the watchlist, if you’ve been erroneously detained, information on being removed from the watch list can be found from the Department of Homeland Security on their DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).

Links to More Information

Links to all the information above as well as a few other interesting tidbits and misadventures can be found below:

860,000 Name Long Terror Watch List Scrutinizes Americans Most article from Wired.com

Terrorist Watch List Screening report (PDF) from the U.S. Government Accountability Office

Terrorist Watch List HTML Summary from the U.S. Government Accountability Office

We’re All Terrorists! Watch List Makes 20,000 ‘Matches’ in ’06 article from Wired.com

DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program

Federal Bureau of Investigation – Terrorist Screening Center

Problems with US Terrorist Watch List Prompt Concerns article from Voice of America News

Terrorist watch list subjects can evade detection, GAO says article from Government Executive.com

White House Feels Waxman’s Oversight Gaze article from The Washington Post

Straitjacket Bush: The president’s warmongering remarks on the Iranian threat suggest he is psychotic. Really. article from The Los Angeles Times:

“Forget impeachment.

Liberals, put it behind you. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn’t be treated like criminals who deserve punishment. They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment.

Because they’ve clearly gone mad. Exhibit A: We’re in the middle of a disastrous war in Iraq, the military and political situation in Afghanistan is steadily worsening, and the administration’s interrogation and detention tactics have inflamed anti-Americanism and fueled extremist movements around the globe. Sane people, confronting such a situation, do their best to tamp down tensions, rebuild shattered alliances, find common ground with hostile parties and give our military a little breathing space. But crazy people? They look around and decide it’s a great time to start another war.”

This Man Receives 300 Marijuana Joints a Month Free From the Federal Government article and video from StopTheDrugWar.org:

“Everyone knows the U.S. government hates medical marijuana. Still, most people understand that, illegal or not, marijuana is a very beneficial treatment for patients with certain conditions. But few people are aware that the federal government actually supplies marijuana to a small group of patients, while still claiming that it isn’t medicine. These patients receive 300 joints every 25 days and cannot be arrested for possession anywhere in the country.

Needless to say, words can scarcely describe the hypocrisy of growing marijuana for a select few, while arresting patients and caregivers for the same behavior. I’ve explained previously how the government knows perfectly well that marijuana is medicine, but if there’s one single argument that illustrates this fact, it is that the government actually grows and distributes medical marijuana.

And while we’re on this topic, it might interest some folks to know that the government’s marijuana is terribly bad. Contrary to the popular urban myth, government pot has very low potency and its full of seeds and stems. So don’t be jealous of Irv Rosenfeld. He may receive huge amounts of free government-grown marijuana that he can smoke wherever he wants. But he also has painful bone tumors, and his free weed sucks.”

NORML Does LA: The 2007 National Convention article from StoptheDrugWar.org

Two excessive displays in Springfield article from decrimwatch

Illinois Marijuana Lectures still in violation article from Salon News

Insider Domain Name Snatching Probed article from The Washington Post:

“The Internet’s key oversight agency is investigating suspicions that insider information is being used to snatch desired domain names before an individual or business can register them.

The Security and Stability Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers termed the practice “domain name front running” and likened it to a stock broker buying or selling shares ahead of a client’s trade, in anticipation of a movement in price.

In the case of Internet addresses, many people who see a domain name available the first time they check find it already taken by the time they return to buy it.”

VP Cheney Nods Off During Cabinet Meeting – President Was Discussing Wildfires In California article and video from NBC4.com

Did The White House Miss A Chance To Catch Osama Bin Laden Again article from Crooks and Liars:

“We know, with a 70 percent level of certainty – which is huge in the world of intelligence – that in August of 2007, bin Laden was in a convoy headed south from Tora Bora. We had his butt, on camera, on satellite. We were listening to his conversations. We had the world’s best hunters/killers – Seal Team 6 – nearby. We had the world class Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) coordinating with the CIA and other agencies. We had unmanned drones overhead with missiles on their wings; we had the best Air Force on the planet, begging to drop one on the terrorist. We had him in our sights; we had done it. Nice job again guys – now, pull the damn trigger.

Unbelievably, and in my opinion, criminally, we did not kill Usama bin Laden.

You cannot make this crap up; truth is always stranger and more telling than fiction. Our government, the current administration and yes, our military leaders included, failed to kill bin Laden for no other reason than incompetence.”

$38 Million Computerized Accounting System Proving Useless in Iraq article from The Washington Post

Lawbreaker in Chief article from The New York Times:

“AT his confirmation hearings last week, Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, was asked whether the president is required to obey federal statutes. Judge Mukasey replied, “That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country.”

I practiced before Judge Mukasey when I was an assistant United States attorney, and I saw his fairness, conscientiousness and legal acumen. But before voting to confirm him as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the Senate should demand that he retract this statement. It is a dangerous confusion and distortion of the single most fundamental principle of the Constitution – that everyone, including the president, is subject to the rule of law.

As a minimum prerequisite for confirmation as attorney general, a nominee should be required to state plainly whether the executive branch or a federal statute is supreme when the president and the Congress, both acting within their constitutional powers, clash. This is especially imperative today, when the executive branch has been making unprecedented claims about the scope of presidential authority. A Senate that did not demand a clear statement on this point would not be doing its job.”

Senators Say White House Cut Deal With Panel on FISA article from The Washington Post

U.S. cannot account for billion-dollar Iraq contract article from Reuters

General claims Bush gave ‘marching orders’ on aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo article from Raw Story:

“More than 100,000 pages of newly released government documents demonstrate how US military interrogators “abused, tortured or killed” scores of prisoners rounded up since Sept. 11, 2001, including some who were not even expected of having terrorist ties, according to a just-published book.”

Iraq Sniper Attacks Quadruple (Updated) article from Wired.com

Iraq Diary: The Stink of Tarmiyah article from Wired.com

DHS has some house keeping to do article from ZDNet

Whitehouse Stonewalls DSCOVR Information Request article from DeSomgBlog.com

Dare we call it genocide? The United States has caused more than 1 million deaths in Iraq — a figure worse than Rwanda article from Liberty Watch

‘Freedom Is About Authority’: Excerpts From Giuliani Speech on Crime article from The New York Times

Revealed: the little-known device used to block Democrats in the House article from The Guardian UK:

“All year long, Democrats in the House of Representatives have watched with increasing impatience as their Senate counterparts find themselves bedevilled by a filibuster-wielding Republican minority. On measures criticising the war in Iraq, the House has passed four since May to the Senate’s zero; on annual spending bills, the House has cleared all 12 to the Senate’s six.

That Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his Senate Republican colleagues routinely have blocked the Democrats from getting the needed 60 votes on many measures has received considerable press attention, even inspiring a splashy “anti-obstruction” media campaign.

But the biggest MTR intrusion of the year came last week, when the Republicans stalled a bill to provide greater judicial oversight of secret wiretapping by the Bush administration with a proposed MTR that even critics begrudgingly called clever. The motion provided that no court order would be needed to tap the phones of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida members – a caveat that frustrated Democrats noted was already in their measure.”

Ill-informed Fox anchors spread fears of al Qaeda link to California fires article and video from The Raw Story:

2 days in a row these pathetic fools tried to pull this off:

“Questionable 4-year-old FBI memo presented as new to stoke terror fears

Did al Qaeda start the California wildfires?

As more than a million people escaped the flames, Fox News anchors couldn’t help speculating about a terrorism link to the blazes ravaging southern California.”

Selected Quotes of James Madison from Constitution.org:

“All men having power ought to be mistrusted.

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.

Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.”

Perino: ‘There Are Public Health Benefits To Climate Change’ For People Who Die from ‘Cold’ article and video from Think Progress

White House On $2 Trillion Iraq War: ‘Not Worried About the Number’ article from Think Progress

Full Version of White House “Edited” CDC Climate Report – with highlights article from DeSmogBlog

FBI forces false confession out of man article from boingboing.net:

“Long story short: Man is staying in hotel in NYC during the 9/11/2001 attacks. Hotel empties after attacks and device is found in man’s hotel room closet that allows communication with airline pilots. Man is Egyptian national, and FBI questions him. Man denies owning device.

FBI agent threatens that man’s family will be tortured in Egypt.

Man confesses, ultimately spending a month in jail before airline pilot shows up at hotel asking for radio left in man’s room back. Whoops! Lawsuits ensue.”

White House Leak: Cheney’s Plan for Iran Attack Starts With Israeli Missile Strike article from AlterNet:

“US Vice President Dick Cheney — the power behind the throne, the eminence grise, the man with the (very) occasional grandfatherly smile — is notorious for his propensity for secretiveness and behind-the-scenes manipulation. He’s capable of anything, say friends as well as enemies. Given this reputation, it’s no big surprise that Cheney has already asked for a backroom analysis of how a war with Iran might begin.

In the scenario concocted by Cheney’s strategists, Washington’s first step would be to convince Israel to fire missiles at Iran’s uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. Tehran would retaliate with its own strike, providing the US with an excuse to attack military targets and nuclear facilities in Iran.

This information was leaked by an official close to the vice president. Cheney himself hasn’t denied engaging in such war games. For years, in fact, he’s been open about his opinion that an attack on Iran, a member of US President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil,” is inevitable.”

Dems Accuse Rice of Blunders in Iraq article from The Washington Post:

“House Democrats on Thursday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of grossly mismanaging diplomatic efforts in Iraq and concealing information from Congress, putting a visibly frustrated Rice on the defensive.

At a hearing by a congressional watchdog committee, Democratic lawmakers said the State Department under Rice had been too lax with armed security contractors, ignored corruption at the highest levels of the Iraqi government and was sloppy in overseeing construction of the costly new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The Democrats’ strategy did not go unnoticed by Republicans.

Democrats seemed to be trying “to drill enough small holes in the bottom of the boat to sink the entire Iraqi enterprise, while still claiming undying support for the crew about to drown,” said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the committee’s top Republican.”

Stupid ass quotes and actions such as the ones above by Davis are one of the reasons nothing ever gets done in Congress. Senators are too busy blaming everyone else for everything and they spend no time doing what’s right for the people and what needs to be done for the people. The games we play.

Rumsfield hit with torture lawsuit while visiting Paris article from The Raw Story

Plame: Disclosure of classified status amounted to ‘treason’ article and video from Raw Story:

“Disclosure of her covert identity for political purposes was nothing short of “treason,” outed former CIA agent Valerie Plame told Hardball host Chris Matthews Thursday on MSNBC.

Plame, whose classified status as an undercover agent was exposed in 2003, said she couldn’t possibly have known that a New York Times column disputing White House rationale for war — penned by her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson — would prompt what she views as a vicious attempt by the White House to ruin her career.

“When your husband filed that story,” Matthews said, “he must have known, didn’t he, that he was gonna light a match that was going to lead all the way to you?”

Plame responded that her outing was not only unexpected, it was also treasonous.”

FEMA Meets the Press, Which Happens to Be … FEMA article from the Washington Post

Apparently FEMA has learned well from the White House pros how to hold phony ‘press conferences’ and interviews.

White House: Fake FEMA news conference won’t happen again article and video from The Raw Story:

“White House Press Secretary Dana Perino assured reporters today that the staged news conference organized on Tuesday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would not happen again, and said the White House would never employ such tactics at its own press briefings.

“It is not a practice that we would employ here at the White House or that we — we certainly don’t condone it,” said Perino.”

Perino’s not a very good liar either since the White House has had numerous staged press conferences.

Attack Iran and you attack Russia article from The Asia Times

Rudy’s Gaffe article from The Daily Kos:

“So Rudy Giuliani finally did something the traditional media has latched onto and is excoriating him for.

Was it the enormous pile of evidence that his vaunted 9/11 heroism was a shallow illusion? That, in fact, his own failures of leadership as mayor led to increased fatalities on that day?

Was it his post-9/11 lies about how well-prepared the city was for an attack? Or his cynical profiting from that tragedy?”

U.S. Hid Details of 2005 Blackwater Shootings article from AlterNet:

“Well well well. Our lovely, transparent State Department is busted again trying to protect poor, innocent Blackwater:

Even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended her department’s oversight of private security contractors, new evidence surfaced Thursday that the U.S. sought to conceal details of Blackwater shootings of Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.

In one instance, internal e-mails show that State Department officials tried to deflect a 2005 Los Angeles Times inquiry into an alleged killing of an Iraqi civilian by Blackwater guards.”

The Bush administration’s ties to Blackwater article from Salon News

Report Depicts Recklessness at Blackwater article from The New York Times

Blackwater most often shoots first, congressional report says article from CNN News

Blackwater Faulted In Military Reports From Shooting Scene article from The Washington Post

The Bush Administration’s Ties to Blackwater article from Salon News

Man Bush chose to lead Pentagon contracting probes left under fire to become Blackwater COO article from The Raw Story

Why failure is the new success article from The UK Guardian

Bush Preaches Democracy, Proposes Tyranny – The Fraudulent War on Terror article from CounterPunch:

“Americans had best rethink the “war on terror” while they still have the liberty to do so. For all of President Bush’s blah-blah talk about bringing democracy to the world, the Bush administration has proved that it is no friend of liberty at home.

The Bush administration has violated constitutional principles, US law, and the Geneva Conventions as no previous administration has done.

The Bush administration has not been held accountable for any of its crimes. By failing to hold government accountable to law, the Constitution, and the American people. the opposition party and the corporate media have abandoned their responsibility to protect freedom and democracy in the United States.

Now the Bush administration wants to take away the American people’s freedom to travel within their own country by airplane. Not content with an 80,000 “no fly” list, a subset of a 500,000-750,000 “watch list,” the Bush administration’s Transport Security Administration has proposed new rules that will require Americans to get government permission 72 hours in advance prior to being allowed to board a domestic flight.

The TSA justifies this extraordinary violation of our constitutional rights on the grounds that 90 to 93 percent of all travel reservations are final by then.”

It’s time to wake up people, and do something about this. The article above has numerous violations of the law performed by the Bush Administration, and now they want to make you get governmental permission 72 hours before you fly…exactly what country are we in? When did Hitler return from the grave? It’s time for this insanity and incompetence to stop.

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