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U.S. District Court Judge Rules Terror Watchlist Unconstitutional

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A U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the government data base that has identified 1.2 million individuals, including an estimated 4,600 American citizens as “known or suspected terrorists,” is unconstitutional, according to a court order issued on Wednesday.

The summary judgement was issued favoring twenty-three Muslim Americans who with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sued the federal government claiming that the inclusion of their names on the Terrorist Screening Database was in error and violated their due process rights.

According to the plaintiffs their inclusion on the Terror Watchlist, not to be confused with the more restrictive No Fly List, led to them being detained and harassed when trying to enter the country or fly commercial throughout the U.S.. They alleged the government failed to notify them as to why their names were included on the Terror Watchlist and denied their due process rights to contest their inclusions on that list.

U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, Anthony Trenga, agreed with the plaintiffs writing that the government procedure for including names violates the Constitutional right to due process, as well as violating the Administrative Procedures Act.

The Court concludes that the TSDB fails to provide constitutionally sufficient procedural due process, and thereby also violates the Administrative Procedures Act.

U.S. District Judge Trenga Summary Judgement.

Judge Trenga, a President Bush appointee in 2008, also noted that the government failed to provided any evidence that the plaintiffs were known terrorists. None have ever been convicted, charged, or indicted for an offense related to terrorism, rather they have simply been labeled as suspected terrorists.

There is no evidence, or contention, that any of these plaintiffs satisfy the definition of a “known terrorist.” None have been convicted, charged or indicted for any criminal offense related to terrorism , or otherwise.
Rather, Plaintiffs are included in the TSDB because they have been labeled as “suspected terrorists,” a determination that this Court has found to be based to a large extent on subjective judgments.

U.S. District Judge Trenga Summary Judgement.

Judge Trenga fell short of offering a remedy to the case, instead he’s directed both parties to file supplemental briefings as to what each contend would be an appropriate remedy.

In a press conference following the ruling from Judge Trenga, Director of the Government Affairs Department for CAIR, Robert McCaw, called the summary judgement a “complete victory.”