by Derek Scarlino/Love and Rage
ALBANY – The New York State Senate recently passed a bill that, should it pass in the Assembly and be approved by Governor Cuomo, would become the nation’s first terrorist registry.
While news of the bill passing the Senate vote in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando, the bill’s inception and all votes occurred before.
Senate Bill S3436, dubbed the New York State Terrorist Registry, was introduced by Senator Tom Croci (R) of Islip in February 2015. Originally scoffed at by Senate Democrats, it has since received bipartisan support and passed each series of the New York Senate’s many committees over the past year and a half.
As reported by Rare, the concept of the proposed registry would operate much in the same way that the child sex offender registry operates. “Terrorists” would be obliged to complete a standardized registration which would include photographic ID, fingerprints and a DNA sample.
Other information would include their address, place of employment, job title and/or classes taken and educational institution attended if the terrorist is a student.
All information would then be made available to law enforcement agencies throughout the state and all non-confidential information would be made available for the public to view. Failure to comply with the registration would be considered a felony.
As Rare goes on to note, while the bill’s co-sponsors allege that the registry is only for “convicted” terrorists, the language of the bill itself opens it up to concern.
First, contrary to the bill’s co-sponsors, there are two ways to get on the terrorist registry — not one. As it so happens, you actually do not need to be convicted of terrorism to be placed on the registry.
And as the bill’s language continues, the definition broadens to four ways a person not convicted of terrorism could still end up on the registry under subdivision three’s “verifiable act of terrorism”:
“VERIFIABLE ACT OF TERRORISM” MEANS ANY ACT COMMITTED BY A PERSON
OR PERSONS THAT HAS RESULTED IN SUCH PERSON OR PERSONS BEING:
(A) DEPORTED, OR TRANSPORTED, TO A COUNTRY OTHER THAN THE UNITED
STATES, BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, OR ANY DEPARTMENT OR AGENCY
THEREOF, UPON SUSPICION OR PROOF OF INVOLVEMENT IN TERRORIST ACTIVITIES,
OR THE HARBORING, SUPPORT AND/OR PROMOTION OF TERRORISTS OR TERRORIST
(B) DETAINED AT ANY TIME BY THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES, ANY
OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCY OF THE UNITED STATES, OR ANY CONTRACTOR OF THE
GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES THAT IS AUTHORIZED TO MAKE SUCH
DETENTIONS, ON THE GROUNDS THAT SUCH PERSON WAS AT ANY TIME, A FOREIGN
ENEMY COMBATANT OR AN ILLEGAL ENEMY COMBATANT;
(D) LISTED BY THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION’S TERRORIST SCREEN-
ING CENTER ON THE TERRORIST SCREENING DATABASE; AND/OR
(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 CITI-
ZENS, AND/OR WHO IS A MEMBER OF A DESIGNATED TERRORIST ORGANIZATION
PURSUANT TO SECTION 1189 OF TITLE 8 OF THE UNITED STATES CODE.
The problem with this goes beyond the state level to the federal. The federal government’s terrorist watch-list operates on flawed methods which have seen the numbers on the list grow from 50,000 in 2008 to over 1.5 million.
Of those 1.5 million, over 40 percent have no terrorist ties of any kind. Yet, if some of them live in New York, they would be required to register as terrorists which would no doubt carry with it stigmatizing effects with regard to employment, housing, finances and personal relationships all based on methods which sweep up far too much information to accurately deduce for actual terrorism ties.
Commenting on his bill in 2015, Senator Croci offered a warning brimming with an absolutist detachment from the potential legal trouble this could hold for innocent citizens:
“This legislation will send a clear message to all terrorists — Stay out of New York.”
There’s simply more to the equation than good guys versus bad guys. The bill will now be sent to the Assembly for their vote.