'A judge last week ruled the federal government’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), which secretly categorized more than 1 million people as “known or suspected terrorists,” is unconstitutional.
Like a number of “War on Terror” reforms instituted in the Bush years, the TSDB’s unconstitutionality was obvious from its inception. Indeed, the very idea that we needed to “take the gloves off” in our post-9/11 “State of Exception” was an original selling point of some of these programs.
The TSDB is cousin to the No-Fly List (a different and more restrictive list ruled unconstitutional in 2014), the Distribution Matrix (the drone assassination program also known as the “Kill List”), the STELLAR WIND warrantless surveillance program, multiple expansions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the broadened use of National Security Letters to obtain private data without warrant, the “Enhanced Interrogation” program the rest of the world calls torture, and countless other War on Terror initiatives that were and are clear violations of the spirit of the constitution.
Many of these programs were sold to the public as temporary measures — Diane Feinstein way back in 2001 said five-year sunset provisions would be a “valuable check” on potential abuse of the Patriot Act — but turned out to be essentially permanent features of the state.
The TSDB is produced by the Terrorism Screening Center, a “multi-agency center” administered by the FBI. The Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Transportation Security Administration, and the United States Customs and Border Protection also contribute. Even the FBI proudly uses the program’s creepy sobriquet, “the watchlist.”
The recent lawsuit (Anas Elhady et al v. Charles Kable, Director of the Terrorist Screening Center) was brought by 23 Muslim-Americans who complained of a “range of adverse consequences.” Plaintiffs complained of being repeatedly handcuffed at the border, searched, denied access to flights, and other issues.'
Read more: We’re Only Beginning to See the Consequences of the Bush-Era Assault on Civil Liberties
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