Saturday, August 16, 2008

Terrorist Watch List

I do not travel very much, and have never traveled via airplane. I do like to keep current on governmental procedures/practices though. Many things that my government does I do not agree with.

One such thing is the terrorist watch list. Having a list of suspected terrorist is in theory a good idea. It makes sense to keep a list of and track people who may cause the loss life via terrorist actions. In application though it is failing miserably. There are quite a few problems with the list. To start off with it is far too large, over a million names are on it and it is growing much too quickly. It should be shrinking. The vast majority of the people who are being targeted because of the list are not terrorist and are unlikely in the extreme to be terrorists. There was on the list nobel peace prize winner, Nelson Mandela, and little children. I realise that a lot of this is simply because they have the same or a similiar enough name or the terrorist has a common name.

The list is pointless and is causing more trouble than it is worth. Regular everyday people are being more than just inconvenienced by the list, because once your on it, it is extremely hard to get off of it. Considering how easy it is to change ones name and to acquire false documents (depending on either your technological know how or who you can contact) a list of names is really worthless. The list isn't even up to date some of the suspected terrorists like Saddam Hussein are no longer amongst the living. Actual terrorists sometimes are not on the list because the government does not want the terrorists to find out that they know about them. Some of the terrorists really should not be on the list in the first place. Non-violent protesters and well known activists are labeled as terrorists.

For the list to be even close to effective it would require a massive overhaul. It needs to be pruned, it needs contextual data like a description (race, sex, age, etc.) and preferably a picture. Of course with modern technology even those can be changed to some degree. It needs to be up to date. It needs a threat level. Sure might technically be a terrorist but depending on the type of terrorist may not really be an immediate threat to people. The way the suspected terrorist are treated needs to change, since many of the people are in fact not terrorists. It good to try and protect people but peoples civil liberties should not be taken away in the process. The main reason the United States secede from England was to protect civil liberties. The governments practice of seizing laptops, cell phones or PDA's as you enter the U.S. and download all your private information without a warrant or probable cause is just wrong.

1 comment:

Dejanus said...

Yup, it is rather silly. They really should just cut the bull and let the guards handle it. Guards can tell when people are acting sketchy, and it would not slow down the airport so much.