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80,000 terror suspects

The classified aiport watch list went from 16 before 9/11 to 80k
 
 
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A Swedish newspaper has reported the explosion in the size of possible terror suspects distributed by the US government to airlines for pre-flight checks:

  • 16 before 2001
  • 1,000 by the end of 2001
  • 40,000 by the end of 2002
  • 80,000 today

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has more on the background of passenger lists the US is collecting:

[The Transportation Security Administration] administers two lists: a "no fly" list and a "selectee" list, which requires the passenger to go through additional security measures. The names are provided to air carriers through Security Directives or Emergency Amendments and are stored in their computer systems so that an individual with a name that matches the list can be flagged when getting a boarding pass. A "no fly" match requires the agent to call a law enforcement officer to detain and question the passenger. In the case of a Selectee, an "S" or special mark is printed on their boarding pass and the person receives additional screening at security. The TSA has withheld the number of names on each of the lists.

The watch list was created in 1990, with a list of individuals who have been "determined to pose a direct threat to U.S. civil aviation." This list was administered by the FBI before the Federal Aviation Administration and the TSA assumed full administrative responsibility in November 2001. The Transportation Security Intelligence Service (TSIS) currently serves as the clearinghouse for the addition of names to the lists. Since the TSA took over, the watch list "has expanded almost daily as Intelligence Community agencies and the Office of Homeland Security continue to request the addition of individuals to the No-Fly and Selectee lists." (TSA Watchlists memo) The names are approved for inclusion on the basis of a secret criteria. The Watchlists memo notes that "all individuals have been added or removed ... based on the request of and information provided, almost exclusively by [redacted]."

Ok and now for the most ridiculous thing about this possible -- the principles guiding who gets on the lists is classified (I love the straight-up prose):

There are two primary principles that guide the placement on the lists, but these principles have been withheld.

Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.