Speed Reads

I track dead people

The NSA is monitoring dead people

A leaked report from the National Counterterrorism Center reveals for the first time exactly how the government decides who to place on the no-fly list, as well as in the broader terrorism database. The guidelines, published by Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept, also show that those who are acquitted of all terrorism-related charges — and even those who die after being added to the database — will not be removed. That means the NSA is monitoring dead people.

The government's argument for keeping tabs on the dead is that it is a "demonstrated terrorist tactic" to assume the identities of the deceased. The names of deceased spouses of known and suspected terrorists are kept on the list for the same reason.

The terrorism watchlist has ballooned from just 16 people at the time of 9/11 to tens of thousands of people today. Because there is a relatively low threshold for placement on the list — appearing on the call history of a known terrorist, for instance — civil liberties advocates have expressed concern that too many innocent people are subjected to unfair consequences from their permanent association with the watchlist.