A newly leaked government document reveals that agencies such as the NSA, CIA, and FBI do not require or seek “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” that someone is a terrorist before adding them to official watch lists.
Indeed, the National Counterterrorism Center document reveals that the rules for adding Americans to databases such as the “no-fly list” are so broad in scope, that only a “reasonable suspicion” is needed to add someone who might commit “violent acts”or engage in “intimidation or coercion” at some point in the future. Government agents now need only what is vaguely referred to as “fragmentary information” in order to put names on the lists.
The 166-page document was written as a guidance to government terrorism watch lists by officials at the Pentagon, as well as the major government intelligence agencies. While the document is unclassified, it’s key points were “quietly approved” by President Obama.
The document was made public by The Intercept, the website for which journalist Glenn Greenwald now writes.
The document also reveals that people who have been acquitted in court of terrorism charges are kept on the databases owing to the fact that they “may nevertheless meet the REASONABLE SUSPICION standard.” The government considers it appropriate for such candidates to “remain on, or be nominated to, the Terrorist Watchlist.”
The document states “In determining whether a REASONABLE SUSPICION exists, due weight should be given to the specific reasonable inferences that a NOMINATOR is entitled to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience and not on unfounded suspicions or hunches. Although irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary, to be reasonable, suspicion should be as clear and as fully developed as circumstances permit.”
In some cases, this “reasonable suspicion standard ” is even bypassed, meaning that Americans can end up on watch lists by merely being related to or associated with someone who is suspected.
“The immediate family of suspected terrorists—their spouses, children, parents, or siblings—may be watchlisted without any suspicion that they themselves are engaged in terrorist activity.” the Intercept report notes.
“Another loophole is quite broad—’associates’ who have a defined relationship with a suspected terrorist, but whose involvement in terrorist activity is not known.” it continues.
“A third loophole is broader still—individuals with ‘a possible nexus’ to terrorism, but for whom there is not enough ‘derogatory information’ to meet the reasonable suspicion standard.” the report also states.
Even more bizarrely, people who are known to be dead are added and kept on the lists, in case someone else adopts their identity.
The document reveals activities that could lead to one being added to a watch list include “destruction of government property,” and “damaging computers used by financial institutions.” The document defines terrorism as any act that is “dangerous” to property and intended to influence government policy through intimidation.
The document also makes reference to the fact that because the so called underwear bomber was able to get on a plane despite being on the no-fly list, a “threat-based expedited upgrade” was made to the government guidelines.
This effectively gives a single Federal official the unilateral authority to flag “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto special elevated watch lists for extra scrutiny. The power to carry this action out is vested in the assistant to the president for homeland security and counter terrorism, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
Once a person is added to a watch list, all law enforcement agencies in the country have access to their details. Police are able to run cross checks. Meaning that anyone placed on the lists could be pulled over for a traffic infraction but end up being arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist.
As we have previously reported, many innocent American citizens have been added to terrorism watchlists over entirely innocent activities. Once a person is added to a list, they can remain in federal databases for up to 30 years, lawsuits have noted. The process for getting off of the watchlists has been declared unconstitutional in court. Further lawsuits have indicated that the government terrorism watchlists are extremely prone to abuse and error.
Commenting on the leaked information, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security project, Hina Shamsi, said that it proves the government is “secretly blacklisting people as suspected terrorists” with little or no evidence.
Without going into details, a spokesperson from the National Counterterrorism Center described the government watch lists as “an important part of our layered defense” against terrorists.
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.