Tuesday, June 30, 2009

News from the no fly list front

The smiling gentleman pictured above is Abousfian Abdelrazik, a naturalized Canadian who has been stranded in his native Sudan since 2003. On a visit to his sick mother, the Montreal resident was twice imprisoned and tortured by the local government, according to him at the instance of Canadian and U.S. authorities who suspected him of ties to terrorism. The Canadians and Sudanese eventually cleared him, but then he found himself with an expired passport and placed on a United Nations no fly list. For the last 14 months, he slept on the floor of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. Canadian activists helped him go to court to get their government to fly him home. Under court order, they finally did this last Saturday. No wonder he looks happy,

Despite being cleared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (that's like being cleared by the FBI), Abdelrazik may not be done with his troubles.

Paul Champ, one of Abdelrazik's lawyers, said being on the UN no-fly list means more than travel restrictions.

"It's not simply a no-fly list. I guess you can call it a UN black list. That means an asset freeze," Champ told CBC News. "When he gets back to Canada, he's going to be subject to all kinds of conditions.

"He's unlikely to be able to open a bank account. He likely will not be able to have a job, because anyone paying him or giving him money in any way could be regarded as a crime. So he's going to be living with some severe restraints that we're going to be working very hard to lift by whatever means possible," he said.

This case isn't going away for Canadian civil libertarians.

Critics of U.S. government no fly lists and watch lists are on the way to picking up some not entirely comfortable bedfellows these days.

It seems that the gun lobby has succeeded in so restricting federal oversight of gun purchases, that individuals on the various government lists can't be impeded from buying weapons. According to the June 20 New York Times:

WASHINGTON — People on the government’s terrorist watch list tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the last five years, and federal authorities cleared the purchases 9 times out of 10 because they had no legal way to stop them, according to a new government report.

In one case, a person on the list was able to buy more than 50 pounds of explosives.

Thanks to the efforts of the National Rifle Association, it's nearly impossible for the government to regulate guns, though they can ban your shampoo and toothpaste when you travel ... I don't quite get it.

Anyway, recognition of this odd legal anomaly has led some Congresscritters to try to deny guns to people on the watch lists. New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and Congressman Steve Israel led off the push for a new law in May. After the report cited above came out, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg jumped into the project.

The NRA isn't about to let their pro-gun legal regime get infringed on by a little wimpy fear of purchases by bad guys. They are up in arms about the (well-documented) deficiencies of the lists.

However, the National Rifle Association said the terrorist watch list was too poorly maintained to justify preventing gun sales to people on it.

"The integrity of the terror watch list is poor," said Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist. "To deny law-abiding people due process and their Second Amendment rights based on a secret list is not how we do things in America."

Hmm ... wonder if Mr. Cox applies that standard Muslim-Americans?

I'd bet on the gun nuts in this one -- politicians are probably more scared of Mr. Cox than they are that a terrorist incident will happen "on their watch." It's all one more demonstration that this stuff is theater, not security.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

Social Security used to be the third rail of politics. Now it's the gun lobby. Only one Justice on the Supreme Court (I believe it was Douglas)had the nerve to say that the 2nd Amendment did not give the right to own a gun to everyone; only a well regulated militia had the right to bear arms.

The powerful NRA has distorted the meaning of the amendment to the detriment of our country. In Arizona a certified nutcase woman in our legislature has carried that distortion to the extreme. She sponsored an amendment giving everyone the right to carry a concealed weapon in a bar. The gun fight at the OK Corral will be a picnic compared to the shoot-outs that will occur if she has her way.

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