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We're all potential terrorists, now!

If you didn't give two sh*tsTM about our country's surveillance state, you may just change your mind after reading The Intercept's latest piece, just published over the past few hours.

Guilty until proven innocent: "irrefutable facts" and "concrete evidence" are no longer required to place U.S. citizens on a terrorist watch list under the new guidelines of the administration's early-2013 expansion of our surveillance state. (And, good luck getting yourself removed from it once you're on it!)

Our country's Orwellian realities just get more outrageous by the minute...

Blacklisted: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

By Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux
The Intercept
23 Jul 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.

Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list. In an affidavit, Holder called them a “clear roadmap” to the government’s terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: “The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed … could cause significant harm to national security…”

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Perhaps one of the more frightening aspects (there are so many to choose from in this story) of this latest story is the massive, institutionalized social/racial/ethnic/religious profiling that, since March of last year, is now officially integrated into our nation's surveillance guidelines, as noted in today's story by Scahill and Devereaux...

Profiling categories of people

While the nomination process appears methodical on paper, in practice there is a shortcut around the entire system. Known as a “threat-based expedited upgrade,” it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to elevate entire “categories of people” whose names appear in the larger databases onto the no fly or selectee lists…

…This extraordinary power for “categorical watchlisting”—otherwise known as profiling—is vested in the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, a position formerly held by CIA Director John Brennan that does not require Senate confirmation.

The rulebook does not indicate what “categories of people” have been subjected to threat-based upgrades. It is not clear, for example, whether a category might be as broad as military-age males from Yemen. The guidelines do make clear that American citizens and green card holders are subject to such upgrades…

It's this "profiling" section of the story which serves as a big part of the focus of this brief report on it from Thursday's WaPo...

Document details procedure for placing terrorist suspects on government watch list

By Adam Goldman
Washington Post
July 23 at 7:38 PM

The president’s top counterterrorism adviser has the temporary ability to prevent categories of people — already in the government's vast databases of known or suspected terrorists — from flying, in the face of a credible threat, according to a newly published report.

The previously unknown authority allows the adviser to add groups of names to the no-fly list for up to 72 hours. After that, the president’s Cabinet secretaries or their deputies have to extend the action.

If they don’t concur, the names are removed from the no-fly list.

The government added about 1.5 million names to its terrorist watch lists during the past five years, according to court documents. The no-fly list is more selective and is believed to hold several thousand names…

(Bold type is diarist's emphasis.)

Here's a messaging "observation" which I've gleaned from today's news: Since President Obama's been in office, approximately one out of every 200 to 300 people in this country have been on our government's terrorism watchlist, at one time or another.  

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Digby weighed-in on this story, via (h/t) Kossack Demi Moaned, in the comments

Just this afternoon:
Jeremy Scahill is out with a blockbuster story about the criteria the government uses to put you on a list of suspected terrorists. It's terrifying, all right. The rules are so loose and contradictory it basically can put anyone on there it chooses:

…Read the whole story. It will scare you and not just because the government has assumed the power to arbitrarily "categorize" its citizens as threats to the state, although that's plenty scary. What's truly alarming is the fact that this manual makes almost no sense and is completely irrational and contradictory. If this is how they are allegedly protecting the nation, I'd start building some bomb shelters and safe rooms. These people have totally lost the thread.

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A great deal of the reporting over at The Intercept, over the past 24 hours, focuses upon Attorney General Eric Holder’s expansion of the Bush (II) era’s “Total Information Awareness” policies of our surveillance state, as I covered that specific topic in great detail in this post at Daily Kos, on March 23, 2012: “NYT's Orwellian Lead: AG Holder Officially Signs Off On "Total Information Awareness" For All.” (This two-plus-year-old post is well worth a [re-]read, since it provides intensive, direct historical context for Wednesday's story.)

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HERE'S THE LINK, provided by the folks at The Intercept to download the entire 2013 Watchlist Guidance document. And, I'm also providing a ScribD version for Kossacks to scroll through, immediately below...

  2013 Watchlist Guidance by bobswern

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