On June 14, the New York State Senate passed its own version of the “terrorist watchlist,” a list of individuals deemed suspicious by the federal government.
The twist? The Empire State version operates much like a sex offender registry, forcing the suspects to register and then publicizing their information on the internet.
WGRZ News states:
Registrants would be required to complete a standardized registration form and law enforcement agencies would collect a current photograph, fingerprints and a DNA sample.
The New York State Terrorist Registry would be made available to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. And like the Sex Offender Registry, the non-confidential information of each registrant, would be available to the public. The key difference is the Sex Offender Registry is for individuals convicted of a crime. This terrorist watch list includes those who are merely suspected by the federal government.
The bill was passed in response to the Orlando shooting a few days earlier, noting New York’s status as a primary target of terrorist attacks. Much like proponents of the federal list, many NY state senators are misleading the public by stating the registry is for convicted terrorists — avoiding the fact that suspects are included as well.
For example, one sponsor of the bill, Senator Tom Croci asserts “Law enforcement and New Yorkers are not being unreasonable in demanding convicted terrorists be registered.”
Another advocate, Cathy Young, states “Enacting a registry of known terrorists, requiring them to declare their presence and enforcing tough penalties for those who fail to comply with the registry improves people’s safety and provides even greater confidence in law enforcement’s ability to confront future threats.”
However, as Rare contributor Bonnie Kristian points out, the actual text of the bill confirms otherwise. She lists two of the subsections which describe how an individual would be added to the list:
(d) listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorist screening center on the terrorist screening database; and/or 3
(e) identified by the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Department of State, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of Defense or any of its armed services, the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and/or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as a person who has committed a terrorist act against the United States or any of its citizens, and/or who is a member of a designated terrorist organization pursuant to section 1189 of title 8 of the United States Code.
The short version: if the federal government says you’re a terrorist—without providing any concrete proof or due process as required by the Constitution—you’re a terrorist, and New York State will list you in a public terrorist registry.
That means a terrorism suspect’s friends, family, neighbors, and even employers would know if they were on the list. They would be forced to register themselves — or face a felony charge — and then be skewered on the cross of public humiliation, possibly losing both their social lives and employment.
The bill just passed the New York Senate is now headed to the Assembly. If it passes there, it will finally head to the Governor to sign or veto.