Yesterday, we noted that Rep. Kim Norton – the soon-to-be retired legislator from Rochester who’s going to be pushing the various gun-control bills that the DFL is copying and pasting from their benefactors at Bloomberg – accused people who oppose US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s “idea” of barring anyone on the government’s double-dog-secret “Terrorist Watch List” from buying guns, of “supporting allowing terrorists to have weapons”.
No, I’m serious. In an incredible display of the kind of logic that most adults were shamed out of using back in fourth grade, Norton accused Bryan Strawser of the MN Gun Owners Political Action Committee of supporting guns in the hands of terrorists:
And this introduced an interesting question: what does it take to get on the list?
From that noted conservative tool, the HuffPo, we learn that this watch list is something of a roach hotel; easy to get in, impossible to get out. I’m abridging the copy from the HuffPo, which you should read in its entirety:
1. You could raise “reasonable suspicion” that you’re involved in terrorism. “Irrefutable evidence or concrete facts” are not required.
In determining whether a suspicion about you is “reasonable,” a “nominator” must “rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts,” can link you to possible terrorism. As Scahill and Devereaux noted, words like “reasonable,” “articulable” and “rational” are not expressly defined. While the document outlines the need for an “objective factual basis,” the next section clarifies that “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary” to make a final determination as to whether a suspicion is “reasonable.” So how could intelligence officials be led to put you on the watch list?
Funny they mention that:
2. You could post something on Facebook or Twitter that raises “reasonable suspicion.”
According to the document, “postings on social media sites … should not be discounted merely because of the manner in which it was received.”
Someone who doesn’t like you reports you to a governnment bureaucrat, who thinks “what the heck, better safe than sorry!”, and will never be held accountable for it…
…and boom! There you are!
(Whoops – can I say “boom” anymore?)
And if you think government wouldn’t do that? Do you really think Lois Lerner was the only bureaucrat to abuse her authority for political ends?
3. Or somebody else could just think you’re a potential terror threat.
The guidelines also consider the use of “walk-in” or “write-in” information about potential candidates for the watch list. Nominators are encouraged not to dismiss such tips and, after evaluating “the credibility of the source,” could opt to nominate you to the watch list.
In other words, there are no checks and balances.
And these next two…:
4. You could be a little terrorist-ish, at least according to someone.
(Given the liberal fad of “Swatting” conservatives – calling the police to report a conservative is dealing drugs and child porn and guns out of their houses, to draw a swat team, it’s not an idle threat). Or…
5. Or you could just know someone terrorist-y, maybe.
…should make your blood run cold, when you remember #6:
6. And if you’re in a “category” of people determined to be a threat, your threat status could be “upgraded” at the snap of a finger.
The watch-list guidelines explain a process by which the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism can move an entire “category of individuals” to an elevated threat status. It’s unclear exactly how these categories are defined, but according to the document, there must be “current and credible intelligence information” suggesting that the group is a particular threat to conduct a terrorist act.
And the Obama Administration has designated vast swathes of people who disagree with him as potential terrorists.
If you’re a pro-lifer? Second Amendment activist? Tax protester? Land rights, Tenth Amendment, open-government, anti-war? You name it – you could find yourself on the watch list for any reason.
Or…no reason at all:
7. Finally, you could just be unlucky.
The process of adding people to the terror watch lists is as imperfect as the intelligence officials tasked with doing so. There have been reports of “false positives,” or instances in which an innocent passenger has been subject to treatment under a no-fly or selectee list because his or her name was similar to that of another individual. In one highly publicized incident in 2005, a 4-year-old boy was nearly barred from boarding a plane to visit his grandmother.
And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. There’s no due process; there’s noplace to file an appeal.
You’re screwed. Your liberties can be held hostage by any petty bureaucrat, any ex-spouse, anyone who really, wants to mess you up in the most passive-aggressive yet damaging way possible.
So I’d like to ask Kim Norton (if she takes questions, which she does not) – how many of our civil liberties does she believe should be subject to a secret list with no due process or accountability?