from the not-because-it-helps-terrorists dept
Having already discussed The Intercept’s publication of the federal government’s guidelines for declaring people terrorists to put on its various watchlists (including the infamous “no fly list”), it’s raising some serious questions about why the DOJ had been fighting so hard to keep these guidelines from coming out. As we’ve discussed, in basically any case challenging the various government watchlists, the DOJ has freaked out and claimed “state secrets” to try to get the cases thrown out entirely.
Just a few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder directly claimed that revealing these guidelines would be helping the terrorists. In that legal filing, Holder does the “state secrets” dance and then says:
I agree with the FBI that the Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed, for the reasons discussed in the FBI’s classified declaration, could cause significant harm to national security…. If the Guidance were released, it would provide a clear roadmap to undermine the Government’s screening efforts, a key counterterrorism measure, and thus, its disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause significant harm to national security.
Of course, now that the Watchlisting Guidance is out, we can take a look and see if that’s actually true. And… Holder’s statements, not surprisingly, appear to be completely bogus. The Guidelines are so vague and so broad that it gives no real indication of how to get around them or whether or not any particular person is likely to be placed on the list.
What the guidelines do show, however, is the level of extra scrutiny people on the list are subject to. And, as we noted, much of that certainly appears to violate the 4th Amendment (or, at the very least, open itself up to a pretty clear 4th Amendment challenge in the courts). So, once again, it seems like Holder’s real reason to declare “state secrets” had little to do with “national security” and a hell of a lot to do with “DOJ security” in keeping its illegal and unconstitutional practices from further public and judicial scrutiny.