Judge Shocks FBI With Ruling on Terrorist Watch List

One group of people living in America are free from the FBI snooping on them without probable cause, it seems. On Wednesday, a federal judge outside of Washington, D.C., appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was outside of its purview when a watch list was created to keep an eye on potential terrorists in the wake of September 11, 2001, and the War of Terror.

The decision from U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia in favor of 23 Muslim Americans who sued over their inclusion in the Terrorist Screening Database found that the watch list infringes on their constitutional right to due process. Trenga noted that the list restricts their ability to fly and engage in everyday activities and backed the plaintiffs’ concerns that they were flagged secretly and without a clear methodology.

“There is no evidence, or contention, that any of these plaintiffs satisfy the definition of a ‘known terrorist,’ ” wrote Trenga, adding that even harmless conduct could result in someone being labeled as a “suspected terrorist” on the watch list.

“An individual’s placement into the [watch list] does not require any evidence that the person engaged in criminal activity, committed a crime, or will commit a crime in the future,” the judge wrote, “and individuals who have been acquitted of a terrorism-related crime may still be listed.”

If the people involved weren’t acting suspicious in the first place, and hadn’t caught the attention of the FBI, they would not have landed on the watch list. But, that didn’t factor into their reasoning and whining about being detained at the northern border after numerous crossings, and other incidents that the plaintiffs considered to be harassment.

The reality is that even in the United States, where freedom is at least given lip service, when law enforcement notices an individual connected to criminals or criminal communities, they will be watched. That’s something that should be kept in mind here.


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