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Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald's blog, The Intercept, has published the U.S. government document that spells out the rules for putting names in the terrorism database — a 166-page set of guidelines that the Justice Department has sought to treat as a state secret. The "March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance" is unclassified, but has been handled by the federal government as extremely sensitive. Government officials have said its disclosure would provide "a clear roadmap" to how potential terrorists are identified and tracked.

The blog quoted several civil liberties groups as saying the government's criteria are too loose. "Instead of a watchlist limited to actual, known terrorists, the government has built a vast system based on the unproven and flawed premise that it can predict if a person will commit a terrorist act in the future," said Hina Shamsi, the head of the ACLU’s National Security Project. The government says the guidelines have the appropriate flexibility to deal with an "evolving, diffuse threat."



— Pete Williams