The process for placing an individual on watch lists begins with “originators,” who range from everyday citizens to federal agents. Social media posts can also trigger a process for placing individuals on the list. Once an originator passes along a name to law enforcement, counterterrorism officials rely on an elastic set of guidelines in order to add an individual.
Appearing in the Intercept
Agencies must have “reasonable suspicion” or “articulable evidence” that the person is a “known or suspected terrorist,” according to a document detailing watch listing guidance compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center in March of 2013 and first obtained by the Intercept. The document admits that “irrefutable evidence and concrete facts are not necessary.”
Information about immediate family members and known associates of “known or suspected terrorists” can also be added to the watch list without any suspicion that they themselves are engaged in terrorism.
Individuals who believe they have been wrongfully added to a watch list can file a complaint through a redress program, which launches an internal review not subject to oversight by any court or entity outside the counterterrorism community, according to the documents.Further, during the review you are not permitted to examine witnesses or evidence against you.
But even if you succeed, you may not know it:
The review can result in a removal of an individual’s name, but the individual won’t necessarily be notified because the government maintains a general policy to “neither confirm nor deny an individual’s watch list status,” according to the documents.
Individuals can even be kept on the list after being acquitted of a terrorism charge if authorities still have “reasonable suspicion.”Several news reports report that the list is only a few thousand people, thus suggesting the ban would affect few people wanting to buy a gun. But that's wrong. Those reports are confusing the No Fly List, which only consists of 47,000 people and is simply a subset of the Terrorist Watch List, which list has over one million people listed on it, including 280,000 people who have no known affiliation with terrorist organizations.
Although some liberals are okay with people being stripped of constitutional rights simply based on the arbitrary decision reached by a government official, the Constitution is not. That document mandates that people be provided due process before they are denied a constitutional right, a fact that even the ACLU understands.
If you're going to deny people rights based on being on a terrorist list, people need to know they are being added to the list and have the right to contest that decision in a court of law. They need to be provided the evidence against them and given the right to refute that evidence. If those due process safeguards are not provided, the person on the list cannot be denied his constitutional right to buy and possess a gun.