Tying Rights To Useless ‘Terrorist Watchlists’ Is A Terrible Idea

Tying Rights To Useless ‘Terrorist Watchlists’ Is A Terrible Idea

Source: Techdirt

No matter how you may feel about the Second Amendment or firearms themselves, there’s no way you can feel comfortable with access to Constitutional rights being predicated on something as worthless as the government’s ever-expanding “you might be a terrorist” lists.

But that’s what’s being sought by legislators. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, politicians are searching for answers to unpredictable violent acts, and have seized on the FBI’s multiple investigations of the shooter as a potential terrorist for deciding who can or can’t obtain a gun. A “dramatic” sit-in by Congressional reps hoped to force the issue, even though it ended up pushing nothing forward at all.

Some legislators want gun ownership tied to terrorist watchlists — the same watchlists that have turned 4-year-olds into suspected terrorists and designated entire families as suspicious simply because a single member somewhere in the branches of the family tree is under investigation.

This kneejerk reaction not only would eliminate rights but also any form of due process. As it stands now, there’s very little chance anyone wrongly designated as a suspected terrorist by the US government will be able to remove themselves from these lists. A recent court decision about the TSA’s “no fly” list has at least raised the redress procedure to “extremely difficult” from its previous status as “nonexistent.”

But that’s only one of the government’s terrorist watchlists. Another watchlist contains thousands of Americans with no known ties to any terrorist group. The fact that these known unknowns comprise 40% of the watchlist is only part of the problem.

As we’ve seen from the FBI’s neverending series of terrorist investigations, the government is more than happy to create all the “terrorists” it needs to ensure a steady flow of income to certain agencies and a steady decline in civil liberties for the rest of us.

Even if the list used to deny gun purchases is limited to those deemed too dangerous to board an aircraft (but not dangerous enough to arrest), rights will be denied to thousands who’ve never done anything wrong. The no fly list is a debacle as anyone but the TSA (and those pushing this legislation) will admit. The no fly list has, in the past, contained both people no one would normally consider unfit for gun ownership (Sen. Ted Kennedy, Rep. John Lewis), as well as an 18-month-old toddler. Accurate, it is not, and yet, legislators are more than willing to strip a right away from citizens based on an incredibly flawed database. Logic has no place in gun control arguments, though, as Rep. John Lewis is one of the legislators leading the charge, even though he should know personally how worthless and inaccurate the no fly list is.

What’s even more disconcerting is the number of politicians who believe multiple rights should be stripped from those on watchlists. Senator Joe Manchin actually let these words tumble out of his mouth during an interview with MSNBC.

Really, the firewall we have right now is due process. It’s all due process. So we can all say we want the same thing, but how do we get there? If a person is on a terrorist watch list, like the gentleman, the shooter in Orlando? He was twice by the FBI — we were briefed yesterday about what happened — but that young man was brought in twice. They did everything they could. The FBI did everything they were supposed to do. But there was no way to keep him on the nix list or keep him off the gun-buy list, there was no way to do that.

So can’t we say that if a person’s under suspicion there should be a five-year period of time that we have to see if good behavior, if this person continues the same traits? Maybe we can come to that type of an agreement, but due process is what’s killing us right now.

Due process is “killing” Americans. And he’s not the only one who feels this way. Senator Dianne Feinstein believes Americans are born with only one inalienable right: the right to earn their other rights by “proving their innocence.”

All the while, legislators are tossing out catchy slogans like, “No Fly, No Buy” with zero awareness of the implications of that action. Others claim such a law would have prevented the Orlando shooting, similarly unaware of the fact that the shooter wasn’t on a terrorist watchlist when he purchased his guns.

If lawmakers want to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns, they need to base this on something far better maintained and narrowly defined than our current terrorist watchlists. The ones we have operate as dragnets — bulk surveillance but for human beings. These lists already eliminate due process. They shouldn’t be used to further diminish citizens’ rights just because the perpetrator in the latest mass shooting was the subject of a terrorism investigation.

Marshals: Innocent People Placed On ‘Watch List’ To Meet Quota

 

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Back to the good old days of the guillotine, witch burning and death to heretics.

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