You may be dead, but the U.S. government won’t take you off its terrorist roster.
That’s according to newly leaked internal guidelines from last year that reveal intimate details regarding the government’s process for determining whether an individual should be designated as a possible terrorist suspect.
So broad are their criteria that an individual is able to be placed onto a watch list — and kept there — even if he or she is acquitted of a terrorism-related crime. Additionally, the guidelines note that a deceased person’s name may stay on the list because such an identity could be used as an alias by a suspected terrorist.
The rationale for adding someone to a watch list has gone from broad and opaque under the Bush administration to even more expansive under the Obama administration, according to an analysis by The Intercept, which published the guidelines on Wednesday.
The 166-page report, assembled by the National Counterterrorism Center in March 2013, provides guidance to the government’s myriad intelligence agencies on the rules for placing an individual in a terrorist database, including the controversial “no-fly” list that bars certain travelers from boarding flights.
The “no-fly” list was dramatically strengthened shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the 2013 internal guidance report indicates that a “substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system” has continued under the Obama administration and with the permission of the president, a decision made after the 2009 “underwear bomber” incident that occurred on a passenger flight to Detroit.
The current terrorist watch list is so easy to be put onto and so difficult to get off of that even death might not erase a name. According to The Intercept:
“Not even death provides a guarantee of getting off the list. The guidelines say the names of dead people will stay on the list if there is reason to believe the deceased’s identity may be used by a suspected terrorist — which the National Counterterrorism Center calls a ‘demonstrated terrorist tactic.’ In fact, for the same reason, the rules permit the deceased spouses of suspected terrorists to be placed onto the list after they have died.”
Both the Obama and Bush administrations have refused to disclose the criteria for adding a name to one of its terrorist watch lists.
The Intercept, launched by journalist Glenn Greenwald, has routinely published leaks from Edward Snowden since it formed earlier this year. Notably, Wednesday’s story makes no mention of Snowden providing the documents. It is unclear how The Intercept obtained the rule book.
What We're Following See More »
"Congressional negotiators released a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday and to fund federal agencies and programs through April 28." The 70-page continuing resolution includes $170 million to aid Flint, Michigan's water supply, and a waiver that would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to assume the role of secretary of Defense.
"A number of Capitol Hill Democrats have revived proposals to reform or abolish the Electoral College," chief among Michigan's John Conyers, who "held a panel on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss options for eliminating the Electoral College and replacing it with a system where a national popular vote elects the president. ... The plan with the most support to reform the election college at the panel was the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a proposal first developed in 2001 that would give the national popular vote winner the majority of electoral college votes through an agreement between the states."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.