Report: Cleared people can stay on terror list
The FBI is allowed to keep people on its terrorist watch list even after they have been cleared in court of terrorism-related offenses, The New York Times reports.
That information was gleaned from newly-released documents, attained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in a Freedom of Information Act request, which detail just how someone ends up on the list.
Inclusion on the list makes life difficult: It invites more intense scrutiny at police stops, blocks noncitizens from entering the country and keeps them off airplanes.
While there an estimated 420,000 names on the list, including as many as 8,000 Americans, the FBI claims there are actually strict procedures for adding people that go beyond hearsay and innuendo.
The F.B.I.'s Terrorist Screening Center controls the list, and its director, Timothy J. Healy, told The Times: "There is a very detailed process that the F.B.I. follows in terms of nominations of watch-listed people."
The Times reports: "The 91 pages of newly disclosed files include a December 2010 guidance memorandum to F.B.I. field offices showing that even a not-guilty verdict may not always be enough to get someone off the list, if agents maintain they still have "reasonable suspicion" that the person might have ties to terrorism."
The "reasonable suspicion" must include corroboration by at least one extra source, according to the Times, and mere "hearsay" is not enough.
Healy also told the Times that many people's fears about being on the list are often unfounded, and intense scrutiny at airports and border crossings happens for many reasons. He said more than 200,000 people have complained to the Department of Homeland Security about their belief that they were wrongly on the list, but fewer than 1 percent of them were actually on it.
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