CNN Journalist Added To Terrorist Watch List After Report

The Terrorist Watch List maintained by the Transportation Security Administration has become a bloated and useless compendium of waste. The ACLU recently reported that the list contains a million names. The TSA disputes this saying that, due to duplicates and aliases, the number is actually closer to 400,000. Well, that’s comforting, but it doesn’t change the fact that…

“Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other ’suspicious characters,’ with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape.”

New amongst the listees is CNN reporter Drew Griffin. Last March Griffin broadcast a story on the TSA that exposed some of its weaknesses. Within two months he found that he was unable to travel without significant inconvenience and later learned of his inclusion in the database intended to identify dangerous individuals suspected of having ties to terrorism.

In questioning before Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff gave the wholly incredulous explanation that Griffin may be a victim of a name “mismatch.” As if there is another Drew Griffin that is the real terrorist. And it is apparently nothing more than a coincidence that Griffin’s placement on the list shortly followed the broadcast of his critical investigation.

The obvious exploitation of these government resources to punish unfriendly journalists is hardly out of character for the Bush regime. It is another illustration of their incompetence, waste, and abuse of power. And in this case they are contributing to making the country less safe by diluting the effectiveness of security operations. While it is repugnant that any government agency would employ these chilling schemes, it is particularly disturbing that they would target the press. The only purpose for doing so would be to frighten other conscientious journalists into silence.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is requesting an investigation. But if the past is any indication, the administration will stonewall, lie, and otherwise seek to obstruct the lawful implementation of oversight. The only hope for an open and honest examination of this is if it is conducted by a new administration. Hopefully that isn’t too far off.

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You must agree or you will be added to the list of undesirables.

the machine left busily humming along ... all those names.

...I am (sadly) accustomed to. What does that say?

Plus, the bureaucratic incompetence makes the abuse of power easier to conceal and get away with.

And even when one does get elected officials-caretakers who aspire to good government, cleaning up the mess is sometimes all-consuming, even before the new crew can begin to put into place the best practices for citizens and governing bodies.