NY Times and the "terrorist watch list"
Yesterday's NY Times has an article on the "terrorist watch list, and here are a few segments:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents. ...... The 91 pages of newly disclosed files include a December 2010 guidance memorandum to F.B.I. field offices showing that even a not-guilty verdict may not always be enough to get someone off the list, if agents maintain they still have “reasonable suspicion” that the person might have ties to terrorism. ....... Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said: “In the United States, you are supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case.” ...... Normally, it says, if agents close the investigation without charges, they should remove the subject’s name — as they should also normally do in the case of an acquittal. But for exceptions, the F.B.I. maintains a special file for people whose names it is keeping in the database because it has decided they pose a national security risk even though they are not the subject of any active investigation. ...... The procedures offer no way for people who are on the watch list to be notified of that fact or given an opportunity to see and challenge the specific allegations against them.
Chris Calabrese, a counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, called the watch list system a “Star Chamber” — “a secret determination, that you have no input into, that you are a terrorist. Once that determination is made, it can ripple through your entire life and you have no way to challenge it.”
Strange to recall that only last year the the Times had this to say:
There seems to be a strong sentiment in Congress that the only constitutional right suspected terrorists have is the right to bear arms.... The Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on “Terrorists and Guns: The Nature of the Threat and Proposed Reforms,” concerned a modest bill sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. It would allow the government to stop gun sales to people on the F.B.I. terror watch list the same way it does people who have felony convictions. Because Congress has repeatedly rejected this idea, 1,119 people on the watch list have been able to purchase weapons over the last six years. One of them bought 50 pounds of military grade explosives."
Not to mention this:
The mayor’s [Bloomberg's] speech is a plea for lawmakers to close the so-called “Terror Gap,” a hole in the law that prevents the federal government from blocking the sale of firearms or explosives to people on the the terrorist watch list. Because this kind of stuff is on people’s minds lately, we thought we would post the text of his prepared remarks.
But the law is such that the F.B.I. can’t tell a gun dealer like Mr. Mastrianni not to sell a gun to somebody we think is a terrorist and whom the T.S.A. won’t let on a plane. Two years ago, 400 mayors, led by Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Thomas M. Menino of Boston, called for this oddity to be eliminated.