Monday, June 22, 2009

If Joe McCarthy were a Democrat

"this new report is proof positive that known and suspected terrorists are exploiting a major loophole in our law, threatening our families and our communities. This 'terror gap' has been open too long, and our national security demands that we shut it down."
says Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-NJ.) No one my age can fail to be reminded of Tailgunner Joe McCarthy and his fake list of names. Frank, of course, is also a damn liar.

As might be expected, we're really not talking about "known" terrorists, but about people who have been put on a watch list, but against whom there is no evidence. The Justice Department tells us says CNN, that the FBI had thousands of names on its watch list based on outdated information and should have removed them. The GAO notes properly that being on a terrorist watch list does not mean that someone is involved in any terrorist activity, so as I said, we're not talking about "known terrorists" at all. Neither are we talking about a "loophole" here; we're talking about punishment without due process.

We should all be concerned when there's a proposal to make an accusation, an opinion, a conjecture or a suspicion reason to take away someones constitutional rights, but of course there are those so frightened of coming to harm that they just don't care, which makes them unfit to be participants in a democracy such as ours: a government of laws, not of fear. Sad to say, they're not all Republicans.

Lautenberg refers to a GAO report released yesterday, which reveals that about 90% of people who have sought to buy firearms and who had their names on a "watch list" were allowed to buy them because there was no evidence that they actually were involved in illegal acts. Perhaps they had opinions that were scary, beliefs that troubled the list makers and somehow knew other scary people: perhaps they were falsely accused or, as is often the case, had a name similar to that of a convicted felon. But of course our thoughts are supposed to be free and our associations as well. Should we start putting people who oppose abortion on a terrorism watch list because others with similar beliefs have committed crimes? What about people who have attended "Tea bag" parties? People with an 'unauthorized' religion? Why isn't thought crime abhorrent to us any more?

From his perch in the grandstand, Lautenberg claims to be introducing legislation that would give the U.S. attorney general "authority to stop the sale of guns or explosives to terrorists." That's something the law already addresses and of course it's deceptive since one is not a terrorist without some evidence of illegal activity and indeed without due process to determine guilt or innocence. So what Frank is saying here is that suspicion is guilt and suspicion trumps a fair trial and if you're different or someone doesn't like you, you have no rights. How long have we been fighting monsters that we're starting not to notice what we've become?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The watch list should be cleaned up and only those remaining should be subject to enforcement. There is a related post at http://iamsoannoyed.com/?p=1904

Brandon B said...

The "loophole" is not for "terrorists" on the watch list--but the government itself. If it cannot stop the sale and use of guns legally (by law, ammendment) then it will do so via "lists". This is the beginning people--you reap what you sow.

Anonymous said...

Given how liberal the Dept of Homeland Security has gotten with the definition of suspected terrorist potentials (ie veterans returning home, groups objecting to govt taxation - like the entire Libertarian Party, anyone with a "Don't Tread on Me" bumpersticker on their car, etc.... I am not for any legislation that bans anything to anyone on these lists. The lists are meaningless.

Anonymous said...

Oh how CNN cried and whined when we found out that GW Bush was listening in on cell phone calls to/from people on the "watch list". Remember how horrible that was, he was "Shredding the Constitution..." But I guess the 2nd amendment doesn't count...? The media changes attitudes quickly when their guy gets in office, don't they?

Capt. Fogg said...

I don't think the media have enough integrity to hold anything like an attitude - other than plain old greed for ratings. They certainly don't have enough to tell the difference between an accusation, or even a rumor or slander and due process.

What they're about is scaring us for profit and too many of us fall for it and are willing to give up our freedom out of fear. I guess that makes CNN a bit of a terrorist, doesn't it?

We already have laws about felons and guns, we don't need laws denying rights to people who we don't like or who make us scared but obey the law.

Michael Ejercito said...

Should not the people on the terrorist watch list be rounded up and put on a train to the nearest internment camp?

If we are not going to do that, why have such a list in the first place?

Capt. Fogg said...

I can't fault the police for having a list of people they're suspicious of, but for the government to deprive anyone of any rights without due process is an abomination.

But you're right, it reminds me of you know who.

RR said...

I wish I could say such non-sense was solely motivated by fear ... but it's fear coupled with stupidity -- and a complete lack of understanding of what it means to live in a nation ruled by laws.

Capt. Fogg said...

Still I have to struggle with people who insist "Gun laws have to be made harsher" and they cannot be persuaded either of the obvious fact that the harshest penalties do not reduce crime and that reduced crime is not worth the price of living in a totalitarian state.

If government suspicion has the force of law, than we are lost.