The scale of the secret blacklist was revealed in a civil suit over the Terrorist Screening Database, and it shocked the judge.
99 percent of the names submitted to the list are accepted; the court called this "wildly loose." The database has grown from 227,932 names in 2009 to its current stratospheric heights. There is no official, public procedure for having your name removed from the list. The US government is seeking to end the trial by invoking state secrecy.
In Friday's hearing, though, Abbas argued that the process the government uses to evaluate who should be on the list is opaque, and that people who find themselves on it never receive an explanation or a meaningful way to get removed.
Abbas' client, Gulet Mohamed, 21, of Alexandria, Virginia, has never been told why he is on the list. Mohamed, a naturalized citizen, was stranded in Kuwait in 2011 trying to return to the U.S. after a trip to Yemen and his native Somalia. U.S. authorities allowed Mohamed to fly home after he sued, but the lawsuit challenging the legality of the list remains unresolved. He has never been charged with any sort of terror-related offense, and says his inclusion on the list is a mistake.
Government lawyer Amy Powell told the judge that the government does not seek to invoke its state secrets privilege lightly, but said it would inevitably have to expose its methods and sources if it explained at a public trial why Mohamed was put on the list.
US terrorist database growing at rapid rate [Matthew Barakat/AP]