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US terror ‘watchlist’ risks stigmatizing hundreds of thousands, says ACLU

The U.S. government’s “massive” watchlist database risks stigmatizing hundreds of thousands of people as known or suspected terrorists – including some its own citizens, a leading civil liberties group has warned.

Around 875,000 names are believed to be on the list, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said. Many are included “based on information that is often stale, poorly reviewed, or of questionable reliability,” it added in a report published Friday. Moreover people are being put onto the watch list based on secret evidence and secret standards, with no meaningful process to challenge mistakes, the ACLU warned.

The consolidated Terrorist Watchlist was created in 2003, in part a response to the 9/11 attacks. It provides for a single database of identifying information on individuals suspected by the US to be potentially involved in terrorist activity.

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When we speak, if we know that what we say could be monitored by a state, a company, or a person with a certain set of contextual expectations, and if failing to conform to those expectations could have consequences for us, then we will be less likely to speak freely. We will mirror the context, the unwritten rules of what is acceptable and what is forbidden. This is how censorship works. Censorship isn’t burning books or arresting journalists or blocking access to certain web pages. These are just symptoms and tools of censorship. Censorship is a system of coercive control where people police themselves.
The World Is Now an Airport — I. M. H. O. — Medium (via denyinghipster)

Chris Hedges: The Origins of Our Police State | Truthdig

The tyranny of law enforcement in poor communities is a window into our emerging police state. These thuggish tactics are now being used against activists and dissidents. And as the nation unravels, as social unrest spreads, the naked face of police repression will become commonplace. Totalitarian systems always seek license to engage in this kind of behavior by first targeting a demonized minority. Such systems demand that the police, to combat the “lawlessness” of the demonized minority, be, in essence, emancipated from the constraints of the law. The unrestricted and arbitrary subjugation of one despised group, stripped of equality before the law, conditions the police to employ these tactics against the wider society. “Laws that are not equal for all revert to rights and privileges, something contradictory to the very nature of nation-states,” Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” “The clearer the proof of their inability to treat stateless people as legal persons and the greater the extension of arbitrary rule by police decree, the more difficult it is for states to resist the temptation to deprive all citizens of legal status and rule them with an omnipotent police.”

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