It’s easier to list what the government thinks ISN’T terrorism
The United States government has almost complete freedom to define “terrorism” however it wants. The list of what is considered terrorism, and what gets you listed in a counter-terrorism database, seems to grow every day. Entirely innocent activities such as taking photographs, buying a computer, and even waiting for relatives to arrive at a train station can get your name listed alongside radical Muslims and militant anarchists as a potential threat to national security. It’s for this reason that five California men have filed a lawsuit against that Department of Justice.
The plaintiffs, who are being represented by ACLU and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, have been entered into a “Suspicious Activity Reports” database, and could remain on it for decades to come. The database is part of a federal government program which encourages local and state law enforcement to report any “suspicious activity” they believe could be related to terrorism. The men who are filing the lawsuit, all of whom are American citizens, claim that they put into the database for innocuous activities. One the men was put on the list for “standing outside a restroom at a train station while waiting for his mother”. The other men were put on the list for photographing landmarks, buying a computer at Best Buy, viewing a website about a video game, and taking a picture of industrial architecture.
Despite a 1978 Justice Department regulation that prohibits the collection and dissemination of criminal intelligence unless “there is a reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal activity,” the Justice Department’s standard for SARS requires only behavior that may be indicative of terrorism planning, according to the lawsuit. A Senate subcommittee that reviewed a year of intelligence reporting from state and local authorities in 2012 found “dozens of problematic or useless” reports “potentially violating civil liberties protections,” according to the complaint. The worst part is that despite many thousands of these reports coming in, these counter-terrorism databases have failed to demonstrate any actual results, such as arrests, convictions, or thwarted threats to the country.
In modern day America, the mere suspicion of being a terrorist is enough for the government to completely disregard the rights that God gave you and the Constitution promised you. This, paired with the fact that the government can define terrorism any way it pleases, means that the government can do whatever it wants with you, whenever it wants. Read more about this story here.