Thursday, May 08, 2008

Beating Big Brother to the Punch

Last night Stephen Colbert interviewed his favorite terrorist, Hasan Elahi. In 2002, Elahi, a US citizen, found out he was probably on the terrorist watch list when he was detained by the FBI on suspicion of hoarding explosives. He did not have explosives, but the FBI refused to give him a written letter clearing him of suspicion, and instead asked him to "check in with them periodically." Elahi beat Big Brother to the punch by launching his web site Tracking Transience which follows his every move.

The US terrorist watch lists contain over 700,000 names including some very unlikely suspects like Nelson Mandela and Edward Kennedy. The ACLU states "This is not just a problem of numbers. The numbers are merely a symptom. What's needed is fairness. If the government is going to rely on these kinds of lists, they need checks and balances to ensure that innocent people are protected."

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