If you can not walk up to the counter at the airport in order to pick up your ticket due to the fact that you still ride in a stroller, you might be a terrorist. It happened to a two year old boy at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Not once, but twice did he learn what terrorism is all about when airport security stopped his family for further 'security' checks because someone put the kid's name on the FBI's terrorist watch list.
Rising at the rate of about 20,000 names per month, the ACLU estimates that there are more than 1.4 million names on the 'list' as of today. Although Homeland Security denies that there are more than a handful of Americans who are accidentally on the list, the truth is just the opposite. If your last name, for instance, has a couple of letters that match a couple of letters in a known terrorist's last name, be prepared to be delayed when trying to board a flight.
If you are a retired Air Force National Guard Brigadier General, who flies commercial jets and is authorized to carry a gun into the cockpit in case someone tries to hijack your plane, you might be a terrorist. So goes the game for James Robinson, a commercial airline pilot, who can no longer use any of the usual fast lane amenities to get aboard the plane he is about to fly because some idiot put his name on the terror watch list.
If you are a Democratic U.S. Senator who has disagreed with the Bush Administration at every turn, you might be a terrorist. Just ask Senator Edward Kennedy. Likewise, you might talk to 11 term Democratic U.S. Representative John Lewis of Atlanta.
If you are just walking by the airport on any given day, like today for example, and as a plane comes in for a landing, you take out your trusty cam/phone and snap a picture of it to send to your kid at home, you might be a terrorist. Such is the example given by security heads at Las Vegas McCarran International where Air Marshall's are required to turn in at least one SDR ( Surveillance Detection Report) per month. Your photo has just been taken while you were snapping your own, and matched against driver's licence data bases, the State Department's passport office, police and FBI files, and when they figure out who you are, you are a newly minted member of the terrorist club. The Air Marshalls also get bonuses for all the 'extra' SDR's they turn in.
If you like to sew, as millions of Americans of both genders do, you might be a terrorist. Just ask seamstress Lana Gremerson of Portland, Oregon. Stopped while attempting to board a flight at PDX (Portland international Airport), Gremerson was pulled out of line, and told secondary security screening was needed before she could go aboard the plane. Figuring that she had no choice, (she was right about that), she went into a room, where a female guard told her to strip. Shocked, Gremerson refused and was told she would be arrested if she didn't co-operate. With a male security guard present, the woman was forced to strip down to her underwear, and then questioned about all manner of evil doings. Her crime? She forgot that she was carrying one of those travel sewing kits that contain.............well..............sewing needles! Allowed to leave after three hours, Gremerson not only missed her flight, but the next time she went to fly, she found her name had been added to the watch list.
If you are a reporter for a major television news network, you might be a terrorist. CNN reporter Drew Griffin found that out the hard way. The Transportation Safety Administration denies that Griffin's negative reporting on the terror watch list was cause for the reporter's name being placed on it. Yeah right.
If you are a middle school student, and attend classes in Georgia, you might be a terrorist. No less than the sheriff of a county went to a school in Oglethorpe County and told the students there that they would be placed on the terrorist watch list and remain there forever should they not stop leaving threatening notes to each other in the hallways of the school. An FBI spokesman said that hopefully, if a child's name was nominated for the list, cooler heads would prevail and not destroy the kid's life with list placement, but as we have already seen, that quota will take precedence all the time.
No longer constrained to just the travel sector of our society, Americans are now facing problems in other areas. Such as the 18 year old student who was starting a technology consulting business, but was denied the ability to process credit card payments due to his placement on the terror list. It turns out that his last name was similar to a Libyan government official's. I thought we were best friends with the Lockerbie murderers again?
Another man went into a Maryland Toyota dealership to buy a car, only to be told he had to be checked for tattoos that would determine if he was the person that was on the Treasury Department's list of terrorists and drug dealers.
A man who served honorably in the U.S. Navy, and whose father was killed during the Korean War, was denied access to his online PayPal account, because his name was on the list.
All of the cases above illustrate that those who were queasy at the thought of these lists being started in the first place were right all along. They may have begun with the intent of stopping terrorists, but somewhere along the way, as with everything else done by the Bush administration, has turned into a program designed to intimidate and control the American people. The old adage that some use that goes "If you've got nothing to hide, why do you care", no longer applies due to the repressive use of phony 'laws' to oppress the people. When the terrorist watch list begins to be used as a club to force people to do as they're told by their government, it's no longer a tool designed to catch anyone but those who would dissent. Because that's who is ending up on the 'list'. Those who openly disagree with a Bush policy are ten times more likely to find their names on the terror list than those who lovingly kiss up to the Glorious Leader.
After the nightmare of the last eight years, the incoming President should review Homeland Security's usefulness, and make changes accordingly. American citizens have a right to voice opposition to their government without fear of retribution. But because of the policies of Bush, and signed off on by John McCain, Americans must now fear their government, when it should be the other way around. Think about that come election day. The past eight years have happened. They don't just fade away because an election is upcoming and we've got two new candidates. John McCain will go further than Bush when it comes to this list instead of doing the right thing and tearing it up and starting over. And of course, he'll never put the name on the list that deserves to be at the very top, namely one George W. Bush.................................