Sep 12 2012

Secret “watchlist” used as basis for preventive detention

Secret, standardless, extra-judicial administrative “watchlists” of supposed terrorists aren’t just being used to decide who to “watch” — they are now being used as the basis for preventive detention.

A Charlotte, North Carolina man arrested for allegedly driving with a suspended license during the Democratic National Convention had his bail increased to $10,000, cash-only, and spent 36 hours during the convention in jail before getting his bail reduced, on the basis of a police report that gave the basis for detention as, “Known activist + protester who is currently on a terrorist watchlist. Request he be held due to DNC being a National Special Security Event.”

James Ian Tyson told the Charlotte Observer he was shocked to learn that he was on a terrorist watch list. “I haven’t done anything remotely criminal involving politics. No one knows how you get on this list … or the accountability process or, most importantly, how they get off this list….  I am a local Charlottean and an activist and I believe this is an attempt to stifle my First Amendment rights and keep my voice from being heard.”

According to this CNN report and video interview with Tyson and his lawyer, “Tyson … says he has no idea how he wound up on the government’s terrorist watch list. He just wants to save the rain forest. The only dings on his record, at least as far as he knows, consist of fishing for trout out of season and driving while impaired.”

As U. of Miami law professor Michael Froomkin notes,  “[T]his is the first documented example of a non-air-travel-related domestic consequence of being on a ‘terrorist watch list”… I think this small incident is actually a big deal.”