The Foreign Terrorist Organization List : An Effective Tool to Fight Terrorism or An Infringement of Civil Liberties?
Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has increasingly relied on watch lists as a linchpin of its counterterrorism strategy. Their use, however, has attracted scrutiny out of concern that they impinge upon civil liberties, that they do not serve as deterrents to the formation of terrorist groups, and that the process for groups to appeal their designation is unclear and excessively burdensome. This paper explains the process for designation as an official Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and the procedures by which groups are removed from the FTO list. It then compares the procedures and factors involved in the designation and removal of three separate groups as FTOs: the DFLP, the PMOI, and the PKK. Finally, this paper sets forth policy recommendations regarding FTO designation and removal, and offers suggestions on how the watch lists can be more effective counterterrorism tools that do not infringe on basic civil liberties.