Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Feds Still Shrugging People Onto Terrorist Watchlists Based On Hunches

The US government's desire to keep terrorists off airplanes has resulted in heavily-populated "watchlists" -- lists short on due process and long on hunches.

The TSA, in particular, has embraced a mixture of borrowed ideas and junk science to staff airports with Behavioral Detection Officers, who attempt to keep terrorists from boarding planes by looking for any number of vague indicators. The end result is a billion-dollar program with the accuracy of a coin flip.

That's the physical version of the government's "predictive policing" security efforts. The same sort of vague quasi-science is used to populate its "no fly" list.
The U.S. government’s reliance on “predictive judgments” to deprive Americans of their constitutionally protected liberties is no fiction. It’s now central to the government’s defense of its no-fly list—a secretive watch list that bans people from flying to or from the United States or over American airspace—in a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Court filings show that the government is trying to predict whether people who have never been charged, let alone convicted, of any violent crime might nevertheless commit a violent terrorist act. Because the government predicts that our clients—all innocent U.S. citizens—might engage in violence at some unknown point in the future, it has grounded them indefinitely.


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