The Government Thinks A Lot Of Terrorists Live In Dearborn

There are two things you're guaranteed to see in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit: Lots of Fords and lots of Arab-Americans. You should know Ford has its world headquarters there, but the city is also home to the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East. So of course the government is monitoring it.

The Intercept published a lengthy must-read on how almost half of all suspected terrorists watched by the Obama administration have no ties to actual terrorist activities. (You might have seen a bit of online kerfluffle on which news organization actually published this information first.) The report also says that terrorist-watch activities have expanded under Obama's watch, with the no-fly list more than doubling since the Bush years.

Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government's Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of "known or suspected terrorists" that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having "no recognized terrorist group affiliation." That category—280,000 people—dwarfs the number of watchlisted people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined.

So where are all these suspected terrorists? New York City is the most-watched city, but Dearborn is the second, followed by Houston, San Diego and Chicago.

At 96,000 residents, Dearborn is much smaller than the other cities in the top five, suggesting that its significant Muslim population—40 percent of its population is of Arab descent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau—has been disproportionately targeted for watchlisting. Residents and civil liberties advocates have frequently argued the Muslim, Arab and Sikh communities in and around Dearborn are unfairly targeted by invasive law enforcement probes, unlawful profiling, and racism.

I'm actually surprised Hamtramck and some Macomb County suburbs aren't on the list, but anyone who's lived around Metro Detroit knows that no one in Dearborn is causing trouble. Well, except people who steal secrets from Ford — maybe that's who the government should be watching.

Photo via AP