An expansion of the Federal government’s terrorist watchlist system under the Obama Administration allows for American citizens and foreigners to be blacklisted as possible terrorists with “neither ‘concrete facts’ nor ‘irrefutable evidence.’”
That’s according National Security Agency story-breaker Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, which released the governments “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidelines” to the public Wednesday.
The Intercept reports:
The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
The implications of labeling people as terrorists based on lacking information are great, ranging from causing individuals problems with law enforcement to making it virtually impossible to travel freely or find employment. And while getting put on the watchlist can result from something as simple as having an unfortunate encounter with law enforcement on government property, the secrecy surrounding Nation’s intelligence apparatus makes it very difficult to be removed.
Again from The Intercept:
The government has been widely criticized for making it impossible for people to know why they have been placed on a watchlist, and for making it nearly impossible to get off. The guidelines bluntly state that “the general policy of the U.S. Government is to neither confirm nor deny an individual’s watchlist status.” But the courts have taken exception to the official silence and footdragging: In June, a federal judge described the government’s secretive removal process as unconstitutional and “wholly ineffective.”
The difficulty of getting off the list is highlighted by a passage in the guidelines stating that an individual can be kept on the watchlist, or even placed onto the watchlist, despite being acquitted of a terrorism-related crime. The rulebook justifies this by noting that conviction in U.S. courts requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas watchlisting requires only a reasonable suspicion. Once suspicion is raised, even a jury’s verdict cannot erase it.
Read the full report here.