Friday, September 26, 2014

Watch Lists In Post-Constitutional America
How Ray McGovern Ended Up On A ‘BOLO’ List, Though He Engaged In No Criminal Activity, And What It Took To Remove Him From The List

Peter van Buren at FDL has the story; here's an excerpt from the middle to familiarize you with the basic concepts and the specifics of McGovern's case, how he ended up on a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) list, and how he got himself removed from it:

Watch Lists in Post-Constitutional America

McGovern’s case has many touch points to the general state of affairs of post-9/11 government watchlists, such as No-Fly.

Ray McGovern
(NOTE: hair, beard vary
greatly across photos)
The first is that it is anonymous interests, within a vast array of government agencies, that put you on some list. You may not know what you did to be “nominated,” and you may not even know you are on a list until you are denied boarding or stopped and frisked at a public event. Placement on some watchlist is done without regard to– and often in overt conflict with– your Constitutional rights. Placement on a list rarely has anything to do with having committed any actual crime; it is based on the government’s supposition that you are a potential threat, that you may commit a crime despite there being no evidence that you are planning one.

Once you are on one watchlist, your name proliferates onto other lists. Getting access to the information you need to fight back is not easy, and typically requires legal help and a Freedom of Information Act struggle just to get the information you need to go forward. The government will fight your efforts, and require you to go through a lengthy and potentially expensive court battle.
We’ll address the irony that the government uses taxpaying citizens’ money to defend itself when it violates the Constitutional rights of taxpaying citizens another time.

The concept alone is enough to curl your hair: anonymous lists, compiled in secret, involving Americans who are not accused of any crime except that of offending someone in a powerful position, but subjected to surveillance as if they were the most heinous criminal... indeed, traitor.

How much worse can it get? How many of us are on such lists for what many of us consider ordinary political activity and/or speech? The short answer: we may never know.

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