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Politics and Economy:
Are You on a Government Watch List?
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Are you being watched by the government? If you are, it'd be hard to know for sure. The government maintains various watch lists to catch suspected terrorists and others deemed potentially harmful, but most of these lists are not public, though one exception is the Treasury's Specially Designated Nationals list.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) compiles watch lists based on information they receive from federal intelligence, law enforcement, and other agencies.

A representative from the TSA told NOW Online that the only way to find out if you're on one is by purchasing a boarding ticket. If your name matches one on a watch list, you'll be subject to increased security attention at the airport. (Read about the experience of the ACLU's Anthony Romero.)

If it's just your name that matches, they'll send you off to your flight. The TSA has even developed a clearance protocol to help speed up the process. But if you are the person on the list, you won't be going anywhere.

Of course, that's just one agency's watch list. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), created in 2004 as the main U.S. terrorism intelligence agency, keeps the largest watch list — reported by the THE WASHINGTON POST to include 325,000 names. The list includes information from other agency reports, such as the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. Many have criticized the government for not having a single, authoritative, and accurate terrorist watch list; there are reportedly more than 26 terrorism-related databases in use by various agencies. The NCTC is trying to streamline the process.

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