When a U.S. citizen is arrested, that person has the right to a lawyer and to learn what crime he or she is suspected of committing. But when a citizen is handcuffed at the border, questioned for 2 1/2 hours without an attorney and her car is secretly searched — all because her name appears, apparently erroneously, on a terrorist watch list — such rights seem to evaporate.
At least, that’s what Julia Shearson, a Muslim activist and executive director of the Cleveland office of the Council on American Islamic Relations, says she discovered in 2006 on her way back from Canada.
Even after the government acknowledged its mistake by releasing her, it would not say how Shearson got on the watch list or whether the growing complexity of the Automated Targeting System computer program used to track and rank terrorist threats was contributing to errors. Nor could Shearson figure out how to get her name off the list — or, possibly, lists. (More)