The Intercept, an online publication started early this year, inspired by the Edward Snowden leaks, dedicates itself to the purpose of acting as the "media watchdog" keeping an eye on the government--a function the mass media clearly abandoned long ago. In an article published yesterday, Intercept contributors Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux reveal that the Obama administration has been dramatically expanding the "terrorist watch list," That expansion has been made significantly easier through the simple expedient of giving up any pretense of requiring any minimum standard of evidence for one's inclusion on the list:
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document [also available as pdf file] issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. 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 administration's assumption of the power to designate "categories" of people, en masse, was also covered yesterday in the Washington Post.
This should of course be of great interest to any American who values liberty, but is of particular interest to gun rights advocates, because a cherished dream of anti-gun politicians is a law empowering the government to deny gun sales to anyone the administration has decided to designate a "suspected terrorist" (see attached video).
Oh, and as for those "entire categories" of people who can be placed on the terrorist watch list, would those categories include the Tea Party? President of Vice Biden clearly thinks so. Who else? The entire membership of the NRA, perhaps? Don't think that hasn't been suggested. Maybe owners of giant, inflatable, pink pigs (not a large category, probably, but even one is apparently enough to frighten some in the government).
A Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual, and these people demand the power to take it away without a conviction, without an indictment, without an arrest or formal charges, and now without "concrete facts" or "irrefutable evidence." They seem more than a little confused as to who the "terrorists" here are--perhaps a mirror would help.
Update: National Conservative Examiner Anthony Martin has more, in "Government secretly uses blacklist to label citizens as terrorists."
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