6/16/16 Terror Watch List

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Congress is considering legislation to ban those on the terror watch list from buying guns.

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

Put aside the guns aspect for just a moment.

There is no published criteria for the terror watch list. People get on the list based on behavior.  And hunches.  And intuition. Officials have used credit card records and newspaper clippings to name people to the list.

[Updated June 26, 2016: Federal Air Marshals report they have a quota to add at least one individual to the ‘No Fly List,’ a subset of the Terror Watch List, each month. Marshals report these added individuals do not have to meet any criteria warranting addition to the No Fly List.] 

It now includes more than 400,000 names.

[There is one report suggesting the list now includes more than one million names.]

Some are probably bad guys.  Many more are innocent victims placed on the list at the whim of a bureaucrat.  Federal officials admit naming hundreds of innocent Americans to the list including servicemen and women, veterans, police officers, and elected officials.

[Others improperly named to the list include attorneys, college students, surgeons, entertainers, and other innocent Americans.]

Nelson Mandela was on the list.  So was Senator Ted Kennedy.

We fought a Cold War against countries that maintained secret watch lists of their citizens.

If sex offender registries were managed the same way, then people wouldn’t be placed on the list only following a criminal conviction.  It would go something like this.

“Mr. Johnson looks really creepy.  Let’s put him on the sex offender list.”

One more thing.  To ban someone from a legal activity based on their name being on an arbitrary list that had no due process is unconstitutional.  Members of Congress should know this.

So why pass a law they know would eventually be struck down?  To use it as a talking point while campaigning for reelection.

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