The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that the federal government's Terrorist Screening Database program, commonly referred to as the terrorist "watchlist," does not provide "constitutionally adequate" process for Americans included in the database. The Court instructed both sides to submit briefs about what they each view as the appropriate relief. The ruling can be found here.
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It’s recently been announced that Alex Joel, who has served as the civil liberties protection officer in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for 14 years, is leaving the ODNI. I had the privilege of working closely with Alex, and learning from him, during some turbulent times for the intelligence community. At a time when the intelligence community is under attack, it is appropriate to honor Alex as an exemplar of the dedicated public servants who work in U.S. intelligence agencies.
The official position of the Department of Justice—according to a legal brief filed in February—is that association with a terrorism charge is so stigmatizing that defendants should not be publicly identified, even after conviction. Doing so would lead to “harassment, embarrassment, barriers to reintegration and renewed public attention.” It might even expose defendants to “the potential for violence or renewed contact” by extremist groups “plotting future terrorist attacks or intimidating witnesses.”
In the aftermath of September 11th, Sikh-Americans – marked by turbans, beards, and brown skin – were killed, stabbed, assaulted, and harassed, among other things. The frequency of this mistreatment ebbed in the ensuing years, but has resurged following the tragic attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
My colleague Sam Moyn has a terrific essay at Dissent, the main thesis of which is the title of this post. He argues that progressives in the United States have since 9/11 prioritized civil liberties over opposition to war, and in the process have legitimized the latter.