The U.S. Terrorist Database

I always enjoy my issue of Crypto-gram (emphasis mine),

The U.S. Terrorist Database

It’s called Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), and it’s huge. In 2003, there were 100,000 people on it; now there are 435,000. Of course there are problems […]

Mostly the article tells you things you already know: the list is riddled with errors, and there’s no defined process for getting on or off the list. But the most surreal quote is at the end, from Rick Kopel, the center’s acting director:

“The center came in for ridicule last year when CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ noted that 14 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were listed — five years after their deaths. Kopel defended the listings, saying that ‘we know for a fact that these people will use names that they believe we are not going to list because they’re out of circulation — either because they’re dead or incarcerated…. It’s not willy-nilly. Every name on the list, there’s a reason that it’s on there.'”

Get that? There’s someone who deliberately puts wrong names on the list because they think the terrorists might use aliases, and they want to catch them. Given that reasoning, wouldn’t you want to put the entire phone book on the list?

[Also see Washington Post article]

It would be very funny if it wasn’t affect people’s lives and have real consequences.

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