2007/04/09

Politicization of Watch Lists No Longer Academic

Ever since it became clear that the feds where using "watch lists" to screen travelers--sometimes to prevent people from travelling at all--speculation about how they could be abused by politicians has been rampant. In fact, I have been relentlessly critical of such systems, but until today this has been just an academic exercise. No longer. We now know that at least TSA's "No-fly" list is being abused to harass citizens who are publicly critical of the administration.

Not only was Walter F. Murphy, a top constitutional scholar from Princeton University, added to a TSA terrorist watch list, airline employees admitted that his status was the direct result of constitutionally protected behavior. Professor Murphy gave a televised speech in 2006 that criticized the administration for its many constitutional abuses. But not stopping there, the airline employee asked Professor Murphy if he'd participated in any "peace marches"--he had not--and then remarked, "We ban a lot of people from flying because of that."

Ironically, Professor Murphy is not a die-hard, left wing critic of Bu$hCo. He holds many opinions that are in line with administration thinking, but apparently that isn't enough to keep you off of the "enemies list".

14 Comments:

I don't think we aught have a no-fly lists. We aught have no-ticket lists. I don't uderstand why people at gates in airports need to be the front line on this. Moreover, if you are such a threat that you can't fly, why are you not retained legally? So, there in lies the rub. If you are bad enough to be on a no-fly list, but not bad enough to be charged with anything, then you aught have the W, Rove and Co monkey cut from your back and your liberties restored.
It is, of course, entirely possible that the American Airlines employee was talking out of his ass. The problem is that the list is surrounded by secrecy, so we have no way of verifying why anyone is on it. So when an airline employee says they're banning people for going to peace marches, as far as we know that may well be the case.
Here's a piece about a guy who wants to travel to Europe, as part of a college group, in order to work as a medic for G8 protesters. Look at the paperwork requirements the State Department has imposed on him.
Isn't that nice, now they can keep you from leaving if they don't like you. They might have to change that old bumpersticker to "America: Love It or DON'T Leave it."
Windspike... Sounds like an argument for a right to challenge your status on any government list that restricts your liberty.

Tom... Actually the person might not even have been an AA employee. The article wasn't specific. So it could have been a TSA representative. Raw Story isn't know for the thoroughness of their reporting.
Mr_Blog... That sucks and seems totally arbitrary. Again, one ought to be able to challenge something like that. Wonder if you could do it as a matter of discrimination--perhaps as an "equal protection under the law" argument.

Tom... I've often thought that the real purpose of the border fence was to enforce a mindset of "keeping us in" rather than to keep others out.
Stalin and Hitler would be jealous. We really need to Impeach these motherfuckers already.
I no doubt am on the no fly list. In fact I'd could probably safely bet that I'm on every type of list they have. All you got to do is visit my site and your probably on their lists also.

Anyone who speaks out against Der Fuehrer Bush and his Gestapo regime are on one list or another. So what else in new?

God Bless.
UndeniableL... No argument here, but first I want to see something like this challenged in court. We don't get anywere with demagogues like those in Bu$hCo unless you get someone with some authority to smack them down. I'm still in favor of a test case based on the 5th Amendment.

AnonP... Hey, welcome back! Haven't seen you in a while. But to your point: Sure, there's a lot of egregious stuff going on, but there didn't seem to any overt politicization of the "no-fly" lists until just recently. Just a whole bunch of carelessness. So now, I wonder if we have to be concerned about the politicization of other government functions? The "no-fly" list is bad, but what if Bu$hCo started to politicize the distribution of Medicare, for example.
I agree with windspike, if you can't fly, you shouldn't be able to buy a tciket!
I'd love to hear more about this. Specifically, what was it that got this professor placed on a no-fly list, anyway?
Another reason to stay anonymous on blogger.
Lew... I'm sure that the airlines would argue that screening ticket buyers would be some kind of "unfair burden".

Truffle... Professor Murphy gave a speech at Princeton in 2006 that was very critical of the Bush administration. Since it was was broadcast and webcast, he feels that they retaliated by placing him on the "no-fly" list.

Praguetwin... That's pretty difficult. Though if you're on Blogspot it's a bit easier, as long as Google keeps on cooperating.
The article about Professor Murphy included the following:

"Walter F. Murphy, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Emeritus, at Princeton University, attempted to check his luggage at the curbside in Albuquerque before boarding a plane to Newark, New Jersey. Murphy was told he could not use the service."

This statement is misleading. Readers are likely to conclude he had been stopped from checking his baggage. However, he's been stopped from enjoying the convenience of a skycap. Not from checking his bags.

He does not state that he was barred from standeing in a long line at the ticket counter to check his baggage and receive his boarding pass.

He claims:

"I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list," he said.

But his claim is obviously false. He later stated he was allowed on the flight. If he had been denied a boarding pass, he would never have boarded the plane.

He asked:

"When inquiring with a clerk why he was on the list, Murphy was asked if he had participated in any peace marches."

He was told:

""We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," a clerk said."

A Clerk? What clerk? Does this clerk have a name? No doubt he does, and no doubt it was displayed on his name tag. This is an example of unfair and unbalanced journalism. In fact, it's not journalism. It should have been no problem to find the clerk.

Meanwhile, how the heck does some doofus clerk know about the inner workings of the TSA Watch List? He speaks as though he votes on the people facing the ban. The guy has zero credibility.

Murphy said:

"...he had not marched, but had "in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution.""

Mr Inside said:

"The clerk responded, "That'll do it.""

Meanwhile, exercising his rights of free speech did not keep him off the airplane. Moreover, I've hade my bags stripped and rummaged through too. Why? Because my driver's license expired while I was traveling but its replacement had not arrived at my house before I left home. Thus, my ID documents were lacking when I checked in for my return trip.

I fault the airport security system for many reasons. But we have so many laws that stand in the way of sound screening that it's obvious the only people likely to feel abused by security procedures are those whose racial, ethnic and religious identities have not received politically correct exemptions from inspections. In other words, guys like Murphy, me and 299.9 million other Americans.

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