The federal terrorist watch list has grown to more than 755,000 names, says a new report that has raised worries about the list’s effectiveness. USA Today says the size of the list, typically used to check people entering the U.S. through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004. Some lawmakers, security experts, and civil rights advocates warn that it will become useless if it includes too many people. “It undermines the authority of the list,” says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. “There’s just no rational, reasonable estimate that there’s anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists.”
The exact number of people on the list is unclear, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Some people may be on the list more than once because they are listed under multiple spellings. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-CT), who plans a hearing on the report today, says “serious hurdles remain if (the list) is to be as effective as we need it to be. Some of the concerns stem from its rapid growth, which could call into question the quality of the list itself.” About 53,000 people on the list have been questioned since 2004. Most were apparently released and allowed to enter, the GAO says. Leonard Boyle ofthe FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, says 269 foreigners were denied entry in fiscal 2006.