The anti-watch list watch list

A new U.S. database will track non-terrorists

After thousands of complaints and a steady stream of embarrassing headlines, the U.S. Congress has adopted legislation that will create a new kind of terrorist watch list: a list of people who aren’t terrorists. As of today, there are approximately one million names on America’s numerous watch lists, which are crosschecked with passenger names at airport check-in counters. But the databases are so voluminous and so generic that countless innocent travelers are hassled every time they show up at an airport. (Last year, a Montreal man who travels for work all the time went so far as to legally change his name from Mario Labbé to avoid all the trouble.) The so-called “Comprehensive Cleared List” could be in place by the end of the year.