New details on government watchlists and the no-fly list are cause for concern.
The prospect of being on a government watchlist is one that both tantalizes and strikes fear into the minds of most Americans. Sure, you may read articles on websites that are critical of U.S. policy, participate in protests with community members, post rants on social media, and have an extreme dislike for politicians – but is that really enough to warrant being placed on a list of potential threats?
More Americans may find themselves asking this question now that new details on the government’s terrorism watchlists and no-fly list have emerged.
Last Wednesday The Intercept released a 2013 document from the National Counterterrorism Center which details the rules for placing individuals on terrorism watchlists, including the no fly list. The 166-page document details what the government defines as terrorism, which includes everything from assassination and hostage-taking to destruction of government property or computers, and any act that is “dangerous” to property or intended to influence government through intimidation.
The document covers two lists: the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), and the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). Chapters of the document include information on what triggers placement on the lists, and what type of information officials are to collect when encountering suspected individuals. Placement on the TIDE or TSDB must be based on “articulable intelligence or information”. The document also says “single source information” such as posts on social media sites “should not automatically be discounted”. Under the guidelines if you are suspected of terrorism ties your family and “associates” can also be placed on the list.
Another worrisome detail of the document is known as “threat-based expedited upgrade.” This upgrade is unilaterally initiated by the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and allows for whole “categories of people” to be placed on the list based on intelligence that a certain type of person may commit terrorism. If the upgrade is approved by senior officials it could potentially last until “until the threat no longer exists.” The lack of oversight creates a situation where individuals could be placed on the list and left on indefinitely.
The guidelines also state that after a suspect has been acquitted of terrorism-related crimes they can remain on the list, even after death. The authorities state that it is common practice for terrorists to use names of the deceased as aliases in an attempt to go unnoticed. For this reason you may find yourself on a watchlist in the afterlife.