Ordinary Citizens Encounter Problems with Terrorist Name Lists

May 5, 2003

Source: Mother Jones


On May 5, 2003 Mother Jones reported that "profiling has become common since September 11, as the federal government increasingly requires private businesses to do the work of law enforcement. Banks have long faced steep fines and even prison time for those responsible if they do business with anyone on a list of suspected terrorists, money launderers, and narcotraffickers maintained by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). But two weeks after the terrorist attacks, President Bush issued an executive order extending those sanctions to all businesses, and the administration began adding the names of hundreds of suspected terrorists to the OFAC list. In addition, the USA Patriot Act, passed in October 2001, mandates that financial institutions maintain programs to check every new customer against OFAC's online database... The computerized dragnet is creating problems for Americans who share names with those on the lists. The OFAC database lists hundreds of common Arab and Hispanic names, often with few other identifying facts about the suspects."