MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 20, 2008

Far too many on terror watch list


Is your name on the government’s list of names flagged for closer watching due to suspicions they may be tied to terrorism?

Well, your chances are better than you might think.

The feds’ terror watch list is so large that it contains more than a million names.

That’s a pretty big number, by the way. Since the United States has around 300 million citizens, a list of a million names contains roughly one out of every 300 people.

Think of it this way: Say you’re watching a sporting event at the Muskogee Civic Center with 1,000 other area sports enthusiasts. Three people in that crowd statistically could be on the terror watch list.

Or better yet, if Muskogee’s population is around 40,000 people, 133.3 of them are on the list.

Enough people to fill up a sizeable restaurant.

Seems like that number might be a little high.

Do we really think there are 133 people in Muskogee who may be capable of aiding or committing terrorism?

The list is so expansive that even a former assistant attorney general for the United States, Jim Robinson, ended up on it.

And, predictably, he’s not very happy about it.

The Justice Department’s former top criminal prosecutor, Robinson said the list has likely caused thousands of innocent Americans to be questioned, searched or otherwise hassled.

Terrorism is insidious, and we must do whatever we can within reason to stop it from taking more innocent lives.

That does not, however, mean we harass one out of every 300 citizens.