Omar, Tlaib welcome decision ruling US terror watchlist unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled that inclusion in the list – which includes more than a million people – infringes upon the right to due process.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
September 7, 2019 10:02
2 minute read.
U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar (D-MN)

U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar (D-MN). (photo credit: REUTERS/ERIN SCOTT)

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan 13th district) has expressed her appreciation after a US federal judge ruled that an FBI terror watch list was unconstitutional.

"I have heard of horrifying stories of Muslim Americans who were placed on the so-called 'watch list,' with no pathway (you know, due process!) to getting their names removed," Tlaib, a Muslim-American of Palestinian descent, tweeted on Thursday. "Today, it's Muslims, but tomorrow it can be you, if we don't stop this madness." 

US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota 5th district), who arrived in the US as a refugee from Somalia as a child, also reacted, calling the decision "tremendous."

"Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make sure Constitutional rights are extended to all regardless of religion, race or ethnicity!" she added on Twitter.

Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in favor of 23 Muslim Americans who were included in the list, The Washington Post reported.

They had sued the FBI on the ground that the inclusion infringed upon their constitutional right to due process.

Those included on the list have restrictions placed on their ability to travel, among other things.


"There is no evidence, or contention, that any of these plaintiffs satisfy the definition of a 'known terrorist,'" wrote Trenga, according to the newspaper.

"An individual's placement into the [watch list] does not require any evidence that the person engaged in criminal activity, committed a crime, or will commit a crime in the future," the judge added, "and individuals who have been acquitted of a terrorism-related crime may still be listed."

The list included about 1.2 million people, including 4,600 US citizens or residents as of July 2017.

According to the Associated Press, the FBI's lawyers claimed in court that the challenges alleged by the plaintiffs were overshadowed by the government's needs in their fight against terrorism - and that these efforts outweighed the difficulties alleged by the nearly two dozen Muslim American citizens on the list.

Several of them reported a range of traumatic experiences, such as being handcuffed and interrogated for many hours, without possible cause.

The Washington Post reported that the parties now have 45 days to submit their arguments and responses for how the watch list could be changed.


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