A terrorist watch list compiled by the FBI has apparently swelled to include more than half a million names.
Privacy and civil liberties advocates say the list is growing uncontrollably, threatening its usefulness in the war on terror.
The bureau says the number of names on its terrorist watch list is classified.
A portion of the FBI’s unclassified 2008 budget request posted to the Department of Justice Web site, however, refers to “the entire watch list of 509,000 names,” which is utilized by its Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force.
A spokesman for the interagency National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which maintains the government’s list of all suspected terrorists with links to international organizations, said they had 465,000 names covering 350,000 individuals. Many names are different versions of the same identity — “Usama bin Laden” and “Osama bin Laden” for the al Qaeda chief, for example.