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Section A: General News


Editorial: Government Watch list ... a 6-year-old has it figured out




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About politics and other things
May 1, 2013 | 1,214 views | Post a comment

An extensive conversation with my 6-year-old grandson recently revealed a profound truth.

The conversation went something like this. “Grandson, (I’m not going to use his name so as not to embarrass him.) I want you to listen to me.” I proceeded to state my directive, after which, to my surprise, he continued unabated with his activity.

I repeated my warning sternly, followed by, “Listen to me!”

Again, he continued with the forbidden activity.

I was perplexed. “You are not listening to me,” I said in frustration.

“But I am,” he insisted!

Light bulb moment!!!

Indeed, he had listened to the words as I spoke them, but he was not following through by obeying their instructions. In that sense, he was absolutely correct. In his 6-year-old brain, it was enough to have heard the words. He listened to the words, and chose to ignore the message.

Fair enough. I rephrased the words used in my communication!

All this came to mind last week when I began to hear, once again, about our government’s terrorist watch list.

From www.fbi.gov: “By supporting the ability of front-line screening agencies to positively identify known or suspected terrorists trying to obtain visas, enter the country, board aircraft, or engage in other activity, ... the consolidated Terrorist Watch list is one of the most effective counterterrorism tools for the U.S. government.”

Yes. It could be effective if it were properly used, but as we saw in the latest terrorist attack, that is not happening. The Terrorist Screening Center was created after the 9-11 attacks to help better coordinate information received by various government agencies concerning terrorist suspects. It is apparent that our sophisticated information networks have not improved that much since 2001, as the Boston Marathon bomber and his family all were on these government lists, to no avail.

Despite a huge investment in sophisticated resources, the information about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went unnoticed. They were allowed to operate freely as they carried out their destructive plans. We had the information, but we did not use it. Instead, these two were not monitored. They were allowed to make trips to Russia and back into the United States. They were allowed to fly despite being on the government’s No Fly List.

The resources were there; the information collected. But the case simply “fell through the cracks.”

While the constitutionality of the No Fly List has been questioned since its inception, the ACLU has recently filed suit in the federal district court in Oregon claiming that “the government violated the Fifth Amendment due process rights of 13 Americans, including four military veterans, by placing them on the No Fly List and refusing to give them any after-the-fact explanation or a hearing at which they can clear their names.”

This is extremely frustrating for some who may own businesses and must fly frequently. Every time they go to the airport, if their name appears on the list, they are hassled over their status. Yet, there are others, such as the Boston Marathon bombers, who should not have been allowed to fly. Their activities should have been monitored.

Why have these extensive lists if the information is going to be ignored? It makes no more sense than my grandson saying, “I am listening!”

I don’t usually agree with the ACLU, but at least on one point, we do agree. In its brief, the ACLU highlighted “the utter irrationality of the government’s No Fly List procedures.”

From that standpoint, I can say, I agree with the ACLU. The No Fly List is no more rational than a 6-year-old’s logic.
 

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