How the proposed NY “Terrorist Registry” would shred due process

According to Capital New York: “a proposed public registry of terrorists in New York could include tens of thousands of individuals who have never been convicted of a crime.” The text of the legislation can be found here and is mirrored here.

The bill’s proposal to publicly list those convicted of “terrorist offenses” is bad enough considering that the broad legal definition of terrorism can include freeing a mink and sending humanitarian aid to Palestinians. But even worse are the provisions of the bill requiring those who have ever engaged in any “verifiable act of terrorism” to be added to the registry. According to the bill, this includes:

  • Individuals who have been deported by the US government based on mere suspicion of involvement in or support for terrorist activities. The process by which people have been deported from the US based on suspicion of “material support” for terrorism has long been criticized for its lack of fairness and common sense. For example, people have been deported even when the “material support” they gave was coerced from them by a designated terrorist group.
  • Those who have ever been detained by any US government agency “on the grounds that such person was at any time a foreign enemy combatant or an illegal enemy combatant.” This would serve to further legitimate the unlawful designation of persons as “enemy combatants” without any due process whatsoever and add insult to injury to those such as Jose Padilla (a US citizen, it should be noted) who were detained and tortured by the US government without so much as a single charge against them.
  • Persons convicted of involvement in or support for terrorist activities by a Combat Status Review Tribunal or Military Commission. In other words, the convictions of blatantly unfair kangaroo courts used in places such as Guantanamo Bay will be used to add people to the registry.
  • Here’s easily the most egregious one: “listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Center on the terrorist screening database.” As the Capital New York article notes “there are more than a million people in this database.” There have also been questions raised by the ACLU and the Government Accountability Office about the complete lack of accurate or conclusive evidence or information implicating listed individuals in involvement with terrorism.
  • People identified by the US government as having taken part in terrorists activities against the US or are members of designated terrorist groups. One wonders whether or not the state of New York will fairly apply this standard to those who are members of far-right Jewish groups such as Kach and Kahane Chai.

The registry would impose requirements for forensic information from persons listed. This includes a photograph of the listed individual that would have to be updated annually and taken by a law enforcement agency, a complete set of fingerprints and a DNA sample. Other information needed includes:

A complete description of the terrorist’s employment duties, work locations, job titles and tools and materials utilized during the course of employment, and in the case of a terrorist who is a student, a complete description of the terrorist’s classes taken, classroom locations, and educational credits; and a complete list of the terrorist’s supervisors, and in the case of a terrorist who is a student, a complete list of the terrorist’s professors

According to Capital New York:

Croci’s bill passed the Senate’s Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs committee last month. It passed unanimously without debate, and as is the case with an overwhelming majority of bills considered in committee in Albany, no outside experts were invited to publicly testify.

Let’s hope that it advances no further.

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