September 14, 2019

Post-9/11 Terrorism Watchlist of More Than 1 Million Judged Unconstitutional

The U.S. government has used the post-9/11 war on terror to launch two major wars, mount gunship and drone attacks on several countries, and institute a widespread program of torture and abuse. Casualties of those conflicts number in the hundreds of thousands.

Another casualty of the war on terror is civil liberties. From the USA PATRIOT Act, to warrantless surveillance, to the Muslim Ban, to the use of metadata to spy on people and target for drone strikes, the deprivation of constitutional rights has continued during the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations.

An additional assault on the Constitution is the terrorism watchlist, a federal government database of “known or suspected terrorists.” In 2013, there were 680,000 people on the watchlist, called the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). By 2017, the number had swelled to 1.2 million, including 4,600 U.S. citizens.

That increase coincided with the Obama administration’s expansion of the terrorism watchlist system in 2013. It established a secret process that didn’t require “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” to designate someone a terrorist, according to The Intercept. The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance” states that even uncorroborated Facebook or Twitter posts may be sufficient to include an individual on the watchlist.

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books by marjorie cohn
Drones and Targeted Killing The United States and Torture Rules of Disengagement Cowboy Republic: 6 Ways the Bush Gang Defied the Law Cameras in the Courtroom

about marjorie cohn

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught for 25 years. The former president of the National Lawyers Guild and criminal defense attorney is a legal scholar and political analyst who writes books and articles, and lectures throughout the world about human rights, US foreign policy, and the contradiction between the two. She has testified before Congress and debated the legality of the war in Afghanistan at the prestigious Oxford Union. Her columns appear on Truthout, HuffPost, Salon, Jurist, Truthdig, Portside, CommonDreams and Consortium News, and she has provided commentary for CBS News, BBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR and Pacifica Radio. Learn more about Marjorie >>

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