For Terrorist-Watch List, ‘Not Guilty’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Innocent’
By David Stout | September 28, 2022 11:39 am

Being acquitted of a terrorism-related crime, or having the charge tossed out altogether, may not be enough to get one’s name dropped from the government’s terrorist-watch list, newly released documents show.

“The database now has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans, according to the statistics released in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks,” Charlie Savage reported in The New York Times. “About 16,000 people, including about 500 Americans, are barred from flying.”

According to The Times, Timothy J. Healy, the director of the F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center, said the documents showed, as The Times put it, “that the government was balancing civil liberties with a careful, multilayered process for vetting who goes on it — and for making sure that names that no longer need to be on it came off.”

But Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act and made them available to The Times, said: “In the United States, you are supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case.”

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