Report: Even If Your Name Is Cleared, FBI Can Keep You on Watch List

The FBI's "Watch List" is a fabled roster of people the government agency has its far-reaching eyes on--if you're on the list, your entanglements with law enforcement and transportation can be considerably difficult.

But one would think that after these "watched" people are cleared of all wrongdoing, acquitted, or charges against them dropped, the slate would be wiped clean.

Not so.The New York Times' Charlie Savage has the report:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.

The files, released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.

Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.

Perhaps the most egregious part of the policy is the inability for citizens to challenge this inclusion on the list. Savage writes:

The procedures offer no way for people who are on the watch list to be notified of that fact or given an opportunity to see and challenge the specific allegations against them.

Chris Calabrese, a counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, called the watch list system a “Star Chamber” — “a secret determination, that you have no input into, that you are a terrorist. Once that determination is made, it can ripple through your entire life and you have no way to challenge it.”

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at September 28, 2011, 5:23am

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