As of 2014, there are about 318 million people living in the United States, making the land of the free and the home of the brave the third most populated country in the world right behind China and India. To put this into perspective, 318 million people enjoy the freedoms and liberties many have fought and died to protect, and 318 million people are represented by dozens of different ethnic groups. However, what the 318 million don’t realize is that more of them might be on the U.S. terrorist watch list than they ever thought.
It has now come to the attention of many that over 700,000 people are on the United States terrorist watch. What’s worse, any little thing can get a person on the list without their knowledge, and it is close to impossible to get off of it.
According to the initial article by the New York Times, governments tread in treacherous waters when compiling lists of people who might cause their countries harm. Japanese-Americans and Communists have been prime examples of demonstrations by the United States government in the past. Predictions about individual behavior are inaccurate. The motivations for listing aren’t always noble. Overall, everything is mostly overblown.
But that doesn’t seem to stop the United States government, which now has their terrorist watch list up to over 700,000 people, with little scrutiny over determinations and the impact of said individuals branded with the terrorist label. Anya Bernstein, an associate professor at the SUNY Buffalo Law School and author of The Hidden Costs of Terrorist Watch Lists, had this statement about the U.S. terrorist watch list:
“If you’ve done the paperwork correctly, then you can effectively enter someone onto the watch list. There’s no indication that agencies undertaker any kind of regular retrospective review to assess how good they are at predicting the conduct they’re targeting.”
In another article by Yahoo News, about 99 percent of the names submitted are accepted, leading to criticism that the government is extremely loose on adding people on the list. Those included in the Terrorist Screen Database could suddenly find themselves on no-fly lists or face additional scrutiny at airports, though only a small percentage of people in the database are actually on the list.
As a matter of fact, the ease of getting on the list, along with the government’s aggressive nature to brand “terrorist” on anything minutely sounding like terrorist activities, has picked up since al-Qaida operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed to blow up an airplane over Detroit back on Christmas in 2009.
Most of the time, the list is challenged during court cases in which individuals shockingly find out they are on the list for something unfair such as their name. Fortunately as of last month, because of the case with Gulet Mohamed in Alexandria, Virginia, a federal judge ruled that people placed on the list have no adequate means to challenge their status. She ordered the government to develop better means of seeking redress from list placement. Unfortunately, the government hasn’t responded.
In conclusion, the articles are saying that certain stereotypes are filling the U.S. terrorist list, which unfortunately means people from the Middle East. We want to hear from you. Do you think the government is being too aggressive and paranoid on how many people they add on their terrorist list? Or is the government doing right by taking a more forward stance in identifying potential terrorist threats despite the inadequacy from a lack of investigation? Let us know in the comments below.