Who Is Terrorized by the Terror Watch List?

President Obama complained the other day that Republicans are blocking him in his desire to have God-like powers, something he clearly feels he is entitled to.

Obama said something along the lines that it was ridiculous for Republicans and the NRA to want to allow terrorists to still be able to buy guns. He lamented the fact that he could not put people on the no-fly terror watch list on the no-gun list.

As usual this is a complete distortion of the truth.

There is an important point to be made here. The NRA does not want terrorists to be able to buy guns. The NRA has done more over the years to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists than any member of congress. Check out Project Exile which worked so well, reducing crime in Richmond, VA by 40%, that then-president Bill Clinton killed it.

What the NRA does want is the US Constitution to be followed and they want to prevent a president from becoming a potentate with the ability to crush the rights of citizens through the use of a Star Chamber or secret tribunal. This is truly a very scary prospect and precedent if this were allowed to stand.

Imagine this scenario if you will.

You go to the registry to renew your registration on your car. The clerk asks for your name, takes your paperwork from you and after a few seconds of clicking on the keyboard she tells you, “Sorry, we can’t renew your auto registration.”

“Why not?” you ask.

“You’re on the list.” you are told.

“What list?” you ask.

“Sorry, we can’t tell you.”

“Well how did I get on this list?”

“Sorry, we can’t tell you.”

“Well how do I get off of the list?”

“Sorry, we can’t tell you.”

“Who put me on this list?”

“Sorry, we can’t tell you.”

“This is crazy!” you shout in exasperation.

“Shouting outbursts such as that are maybe why you’re on the list.” you are told.

Auto registrations are not mentioned in the Bill of Rights but the right to keep and bear arms is. It is this sacred right that is being threatened here with secret tribunals and rights denied.

Now imagine if this example were a citizen going to register to vote.

“Sorry dude, you’re on the secret list!”

“Hi. I’d like to open a checking account.”

“Sorry dude, you’re on the secret list!”

“We’re here to get our marriage license!”

“Sorry dudes, you’re on the secret list!”

Would people stand for this? Would there be outrage if this were allowed to happen? I’m guessing that there would be and rightfully so.

Will we allow our fears to trump our guaranteed rights? Are we really prepared to give any administration, and especially this one, this kind of power?

Does anyone remember the weaponizing of the IRS?

What Obama wants is to be able to put anyone he wants on the “Terror Watch List” and to also prevent any persons so-listed from buying a gun once they are on this list. The trouble is there is no legal proceeding here. There is no charge brought against you, no opportunity to defend yourself, no time and place for you to confront your accuser or even know of what you are accused, no right to representation, no way to have witnesses on your behalf, no judge to keep things fair. Some unknown person sitting in some office somewhere puts your name on this list and that’s it. No due process takes place. No judge bangs a gavel. No press or gallery of citizens is allowed to look on. It’s all done in secret and that’s that.

Remember that thing called The Bill of Rights?

Part of the Fifth Amendment states: “…..nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;….”

Obama, the constitutional law professor, might want to refresh his memory on this part of the Constitution. If he were to get such a power it is easy to imagine him having many government critics placed on the list. Certainly those bitter, right-wingers who cling to their guns and religion must be kept in check. Returning vets might be a threat so on the list they go as well. You can see where this is heading. The disfavored and politically undesired du jour get the wet end of the stick.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I submit to you that if we have people that are “known terrorists” then I ask why are they still freely roaming the streets with us? Gather the evidence in a legal fashion and bring charges against them. To just think that putting them on the no-gun list is good enough is quite stupid. When terrorist Bob finds he can’t buy the gun of his jihadi dreams at the Bass Pro he will also now know he is being watched and will probably find other means to get his gun or some other weapon as he accelerates his malevolent plans.  Further, the terror watch list is riddled with errors where people are included who should not be and many who should be are not ever added. Here’s what Senator Leahy from Vermont said about the list.

Leahy, who is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a comment on an audit of the list that said, “The FBI’s terrorist watch list is often either inaccurate or incomplete. That the FBI continues to fail to place subjects of terrorism investigations on the watch list is unacceptable. Disturbingly, today’s report reveals that in 72 percent of the cases, the FBI also failed to remove subjects from the list in a timely manner.”  Overall the audit revealed a 35 percent error rate and significant deficiencies in the process of adding or erasing records. It concludes with “16 recommendations to help the FBI improve its nominations to and removals from the consolidated terrorist watch list.”

“Created in 2003, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center is charged with compiling federal, state and local law enforcement agencies’ lists of potential terrorists.   According to the audit, the watch list (as of December 2008) contained over 1.1 million names, with some people listed multiple times under different spellings. On Sept. 9, 2008, the screening center estimated there were only 400,000 individuals on the list. Apparently no one really knows.

The audit revealed a process so disorganized that “the actual number of individuals the FBI nominated to the terrorist watch list since its inception is unknown.” The audit found that:

  • Inaccuracies were rampant
  • Entries were incomplete
  • Watch list records are not consistently updated or purged
  • Many entries contained information “unrelated to terrorism”

The ACLU issued a press release that said, “The audit confirms that the nation’s watch list system is massively broken” and called for Congressional oversight.

Is this a system you want to give more power to?

Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy was on the list at one time because someone used his name once as an alias. I always thought that while Ted Kennedy was a threat to the republic he was never a threat in the way the watch list was designed to prevent but I’m sure the good senator had a much easier time getting his name removed than the average Joe Public who just has to embrace the suck. There is no process in place for the 385,000 (35% error rate of 1.1 million) people on the list erroneously.