Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) recently issued a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting information about the “dissemination of data” from the country’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), commonly referred to as the terrorist watchlist.
Omar was joined by ten of her congressional colleagues in crafting the letter, including Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), and Mark Pocan (D-WI-02).
“In our oversight role as members of Congress, we are entitled to information as to which countries receive this sensitive and classified information about American citizens, many of whom have never been charged, arrested or convicted of a crime,” the letter states, according to a press release from Omar’s office.
“We are also extremely concerned that the federal government is sharing watchlist information with countries with dubious human rights records, including Saudi Arabia and China,” the letter continues. “Giving the same people who violently murdered Jamal Khashoggi access to the watchlist puts lives in danger. We have also received credible reports that Uyghur activists have been added to the watchlist at the behest of the Chinese government. It is unacceptable for U.S. resources to contribute to the brutal repression of political dissidents abroad.”
The letter concludes by requesting that Pompeo comply with a set of seven demands, such as a “list of all countries that receive TSDB data,” a “list of all countries that have successfully petitioned to add individuals to the TSDB,” and information on whether the United States “considers a country’s human rights record in determining whether to share TSDB information.”
In a press release, Nihad Awad, national executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), expressed his support for the initiative.
“It is dangerous enough that the federal government keeps a secret watchlist of more than one million people, almost all of whom are Muslim, and treats these Muslims like second class citizens,” said Awad. “The danger, however, increases exponentially when this watchlist is shared with tyrannical regimes all across the world. Congress and the public ought to know which foreign governments receive the watchlist and what has been done to people targeted by a watchlisting system that now spans the globe. CAIR applauds this oversight.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Rep Ilhan Omar” by Rep. Ilhan Omar.