In the dark, nearly two-decade long history of America’s war on terror certain initiatives stand out. The rendition and torture of suspected terrorists around the world. Drone warfare. Warrantless surveillance of private citizens. And the creation of watchlists, shadowy and opaque in their construction, with devastating consequences for communities caught in the dragnet.
In the summer of 2014, The Intercept published the secret rulebook behind those lists. The 166-page “Watchlisting Guidance” detailed the process by which the U.S. national security apparatus adds individuals to the Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, better known as “the watchlist” from which other lists — such as the no-fly list — are built.