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How Do You Get On A Government Watch List

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What Is A Government Watchlist

A Former FBI Agent Explains the Terrorist Watch List | Explorer

A government watchlist is just a watchlist thats put together by the government rather than by a private entity. There are actually many government watchliststhe U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Treasury all have watchlists that may include different threats. Depending on what your business is about, you may need to use certain watchlists or all of them.One of the most comprehensive government watchlists is the FBIs Terrorist Screening Center watchlist, which allows you to look through individuals who may pose a domestic threat. This list is public and the U.S. Treasury updates it on a regular basis to include the most important individuals you might need to avoid.

How To Get On A Government Watchlist

The inner workings of a watchlist nomination are of course unknown the government has been extremely secretive about the names on the various watch lists. However, there are a few well-known ways to get your name put on the federal governments watchlist. It basically just takes any action that a machine-learning algorithm calculates is outside the norm.

Heres how you can get your name on a government watchlist:

  • Have a criminal record for terrorist-related activates.
  • Associate with a known terrorist, terrorist organization, or anti-government consortium. This includes family members and unfortunately, certain religious organizations.
  • Make frequent trips to areas or countries known to support terrorism. You only have to raise reasonable suspicion that youre involved in terrorism to make the list.
  • Have an active membership in an extremist group.
  • Be male, travel alone, and carry no bags on a one-way trip.
  • Internet searching for topics related to or attributed to terrorist-type activities.
  • Make an unusual purchase large amounts of fuel, makeup that disguises your appearance, unusual construction supplies, electronic components, out-of-the-ordinary farm supplies, flying lessons, etc. and pay with PayPal, Bitcoin, or a throwaway credit card.
  • Participate in several activities that alone may be OK but together could trigger terrorist suspicion. For instance, visit hacking websites, post a tirade against the government, build your own fireworks, and join the Tea Party.
  • Americans On Fbi Watchlist Face Detention Extra Screenings When Flying

    The ACLU estimates 1.6 million people are currently on the federal watchlist.

    Americans on FBI watchlist face detention, extra screenings when flying

    Already missing their flight to Canada, Zainab Merchant held her then 6-month-old baby inside a cold room in an airport in September of 2016 while she waited for her husband’s screening to be over after her family was detained for a random security check by Transportation Security Administration agents.

    Merchant said her family was stopped for one reason because she’s Muslim.

    “At that moment, I honestly feared for us, because when I think the three-hour mark hit, you’re just sitting there waiting,” Merchant told ABC News. “We don’t know what’s going on with us. I just remember being very fearful about what was going on. It’s a few officers and yourself, and nobody is there. No other person was there with us. So just very lonely, cold, dark experience.”

    Merchant, an American citizen, is among the many people on America’s terrorist screening watchlist, a database containing information about individuals targeted as known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activities, according to the FBI.

    Unlike the “no-fly” list, the watchlist still allows people to fly. They are, however, subject to extra security, extensive questioning and hourslong detentions when flying or crossing the border.

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    Federal Bureau Of Prisons

    The Federal Bureau of Prisons is a law enforcement agency subdivision of the U.S. Department of Justice. It is responsible for the administration of the federal prison system and all judicially ordered federal executions. There are over 116 institutions and 210,000 federal offenders under the supervision of the BOP.

    utilizes the Federal Bureau of Prison Inmate Locator to search for candidates that are currently or previously have been incarcerated in federal prison from 1982 to present.

    Us Government Watchlisting: Unfair Process And Devastating Consequences

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    The U.S. government today maintains a massive watchlisting system that risks stigmatizing hundreds of thousands of people, including American citizens, as known or suspected terrorists based on secret standards and secret evidence, without a meaningful process to challenge error and clear their names. The watchlists in this system are shared widely within the federal government, with state and local law enforcement agencies, and even with foreign governments, heightening the negative consequences for listed individuals. Being placed on a U.S. government watchlist can mean an inability to travel by air or sea invasive screening at airports denial of a U.S. visa or permission to enter to the United States and detention and questioning by U.S. or foreign authoritiesto say nothing of shame, fear, uncertainty, and denigration as a terrorism suspect. Watchlisting can prevent disabled military veterans from obtaining needed benefits, separate family members for months or years, ruin employment prospects, and isolate an individual from friends and associates.

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    Can People In The Fbis Terrorist Screening Database Buy Guns

    Yes. Prospective gun buyers can only be denied if they fall into one of nine categories of purchasers prohibited under federal law felons and drug users, for example. Being a suspected terrorist isnt one of them. The Government Accountability Office reported that between 2004 and 2015, known or suspected terrorists tried to buy guns 2,477 times and 91 percent of their background checks were approved.

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    In 2010, an American security contractor attempting to board a plane to Texas from Bogotá, Colombia, was denied a boarding pass. That was when Raymond Earl Knaeble first learned that he had been placed on a U.S. government terrorist watch list.

    Knaeble, who was heading home before starting a new job in Qatar, was delayed for weeks. He lost the job. He later sued the Justice Department with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming his due process rights were violated.

    Omar Mateen was also on a government terrorist watch list on two occasions but had been taken off by the time he bought the guns he used to massacre 49 people at an Orlando nightclub.

    Critics have long blasted the effectiveness and reliability of the terrorist watch list system, asserting that too many people, like Knaeble, are swept up by law enforcement agencies without proper vetting or due process and that too many other, certifiable threats, like Mateen, are left out.

    Those concerns received heightened attention in the past few weeks, as the U.S. Senate considered, and ultimately rejected, proposals aimed at expanding a ban on gun sales to people on government terrorist watch lists. A sit-in by Democrats in the House of Representatives seeking to force a votes on the watch list and other gun restriction bills ended with lawmakers vowing to continue their campaign after the Independence Day holiday.

    Here is a guide to understanding the debate as it moves forward.

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    Death And The Watchlist

    The government has been widely criticized for making it impossible for people to know why they have been placed on a watchlist, and for making it nearly impossible to get off. The guidelines bluntly state that the general policy of the U.S. Government is to neither confirm nor deny an individuals watchlist status. But the courts have taken exception to the official silence and footdragging: In June, a federal judge described the governments secretive removal process as unconstitutional and wholly ineffective.

    The difficulty of getting off the list is highlighted by a passage in the guidelines stating that an individual can be kept on the watchlist, or even placed onto the watchlist, despite being acquitted of a terrorism-related crime. The rulebook justifies this by noting that conviction in U.S. courts requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas watchlisting requires only a reasonable suspicion. Once suspicion is raised, even a jurys verdict cannot erase it.

    Not even death provides a guarantee of getting off the list. The guidelines say the names of dead people will stay on the list if there is reason to believe the deceaseds identity may be used by a suspected terroristwhich the National Counterterrorism Center calls a demonstrated terrorist tactic. In fact, for the same reason, the rules permit the deceased spouses of suspected terrorists to be placed onto the list after they have died.

    U S Secret Services Most Wanted Fugitives List

    Are you on a federal watch list?

    Like the FBI, the U. S. Secret Service maintains a list of wanted criminals, its Most Wanted Fugitives. The current list offers rewards of $1 million each for information leading to the arrest of either Oleksander Vitalyevich or Artem Viacheslavovich Radchenko. The former recruited the latter to hack into the computer networks of the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission . . . and data related to the financial earnings of publicly traded companies before they were released.

    Its not hard to see why you DONT want to be on this list!

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    Fact Sheet: Federal Watch Lists

    Fact Sheet: Federal Watch Lists

    FACT SHEETDepartment of Homeland Security Inspector General Agrees

    The U.S. government has long developed and maintained various “watch lists”as part of national security and law enforcement efforts. However, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the scope and relevance of these lists has increased exponentially – and with it, serious implications for law-abiding citizens.


    The Washington Post reported on October 9, 2004 that the “federal government’s ‘no-fly’ list had 16 names on it on Sept. 11, 2001. Today, it has more than 20,000.” The numbers alone cause concern. But the way the lists are maintained and used presents grave challenges to civil liberties of all Americans.

    According to a recently issued General Accounting Office report, the government maintains more than a dozen watch lists, including:

  • Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control — Specially Designated Nationals list
  • Department of State — Terrorist Exclusion List
  • Transportation Security Administration — No Fly list and Selectee list
  • Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security – Denied Persons List and the Entities List
  • FBI — Most Wanted List and Watch List
  • “everal privacy concerns related to watch list consolidation have yet to be addressed. One concern is the lack of a privacy policy, agreed to by all participants involved in watch list consolidation.”
  • Getting On A Government Watch List

    Getting put on the watch list isn’t exactly like making prom queen, but it does require a nomination. An agent from the FBI, NSA or other federal agency nominates you. Then, that nomination moves on to the FBI’s Terrorist Review and Examination Unit. If you check out as a known or potential terrorist, it’s on to the Terrorist Screening Center and the watch list.

    What exactly does it mean to be “appropriately suspected ” as a potential terrorist? The FBI and the federal government remain tightlipped about specific qualifications, continually referring back to the generic guidelines established in the Presidential Directive.

    Besides having a criminal record for terrorist-related activities or known associations with terrorists or terrorist organizations, there are other ways people get pegged for the list. Active membership in some extremist groups could get you a spot. For instance, the eco-extreme group Earth Liberation Front has been the focus of FBI investigations for the property damage members have caused. The FBI calls this group’s activity “special interest terrorism” . But if you’re concerned that reading HowStuffWorks article How easy is it to steal a nuclear bomb will set off the fed’s alarm systems, don’t worry. Unless you actually attempt to steal a nuclear bomb yourself, you’re probably fine.

    So what about all those average Joes who have been stopped and searched by government officials? Are they terrorists in sheep’s clothing?

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    Fbis Ten Most Wanted Terrorists List

    The FBI also maintains a second Most Wanted list: its Ten Most Wanted Terrorists. This lists first paragraph announces its purpose in succinct terms: The alleged terrorists on this list are charged with federal crimes in the United States, as indicated on their wanted posters. The pending charges listed on the posters allow them to be arrested and brought to justice. Future charges may result as various investigations proceed in connection to other terrorist incidents, for example, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

    As is true of U. S. government agency and administration watchlists, most of the names and photographs are of men, but the current Most Wanted Terrorists list also includes the name and picture of a woman, Joanne Deborah Chesimard, who is wanted for an act of terrorism, domestic terrorism, unlawful flight to avoid confinement, murder. A series of photographs show her changes in appearance, and an age progressed portrait depicts her as she may look at her present age, sixty-nine. She has gone by a host of aliases, and a reward of $1 million is offered for information directly leading to apprehension.

    The others on the list are just as dangerous, having been charged with a multitude of crimes involving acts of terrorism or other serious felonies. This, again, is a list you DONT want to be on!

    U S Federal Bureau Of Investigations Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List

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    Neither an interest in justice nor public safety inspired the Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Instead, the list was a publicity stunt intended to focus citizens attention on the Bureaus capture of the worst of the worst among fugitives, as a means of enhancing the FBIs reputation. Nevertheless, the list has aided the FBI in its capture of fugitives and has united both citizens and FBI agents in a shared effort to apprehend wanted criminals.

    Currently, among the worst of those who are included on the list is Rafael Caro-Quintero, who is wanted for violent crimes in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit violent crimes in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to kidnap a federal agent, kidnapping of a federal agent, felony murder of a federal agent, aiding and abetting, and accessory after the fact.

    Obviously, this is also a list you definitely DONT want to be on!

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    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 can occur, the guidelines state, when there is a particular threat stream indicating that a certain type of individual may commit a terrorist act.

    This extraordinary power for categorical watchlistingotherwise known as profilingis 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, though government officials are required to review their status in an expedited procedure. Upgrades can remain in effect for 72 hours before being reviewed by a small committee of senior officials. If approved, they can remain in place for 30 days before a renewal is required, and can continue until the threat no longer exists.

    About The Terrorist Screening Center

    Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President and Congress mandated that federal executive departments and agencies share terrorism information with those in the counterterrorism community responsible for protecting the homeland. In 2003, the Terrorist Screening Center was created to fulfill that mandate.

    The Terrorist Screening Center, a multi-agency center administered by the FBI, is the U.S. Governments consolidated counterterrorism watchlisting component and is responsible for the management and operation of the Terrorist Screening Database, commonly known as the watchlist.

    The watchlist is a single database that contains sensitive national security and law enforcement information concerning the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. The TSC uses the watchlist to support front-line screening agencies in positively identifying known or suspected terrorists who are attempting to obtain visas, enter the country, board an aircraft, or engage in other activities.

    The TSC is a vital part of the U.S. Governments counterterrorism early warning and interdiction network.

    You can learn more about the Terrorist Screening Center by reviewing answers to our frequently asked questions.

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    Why Are Government Watchlists Different From Other Watchlists

    While government watchlists are one of the most common watchlists to use, there are also other private watchlists out there. Why might you want to use a government watchlist instead of a private watchlist? There are many reasons a business might choose to use a government watchlist instead of a private one.

    • More information
    • Extremely comprehensive
    • Foreign and domestic

    Of course, this isnt a complete list of reasons, and there are many reasons you might want to use either a government watchlist or a private watchlist. However, the fact that government watchlists are public and include both foreign and domestic concerns is a significant reason many businesses use them.

    Judge Rules Terrorism Watchlist Violates Constitutional Rights

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    By Charlie Savage

    WASHINGTON A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that a federal government database that compiles people deemed to be known or suspected terrorists violates the rights of American citizens who are on the watchlist, calling into question the constitutionality of a major tool the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security use for screening potential terrorism suspects.

    Being on the watchlist can restrict people from traveling or entering the country, subject them to greater scrutiny at airports and by the police, and deny them government benefits and contracts. In a 32-page opinion, Judge Anthony J. Trenga of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said the standard for inclusion in the database was too vague.

    The court concludes that the risk of erroneous deprivation of plaintiffs travel-related and reputational liberty interests is high, and the currently existing procedural safeguards are not sufficient to address that risk, Judge Trenga wrote.

    As of 2017, about 1.2 million people were on the watchlist, which is maintained by the F.B.I.s Terrorist Screening Center. Although a vast majority of them were foreigners abroad, about 4,600 were American citizens who are protected by the Constitution.

    Judge Trenga was appointed in 2008 by President George W. Bush.

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