Friday, February 15, 2013

They can do this to anyone

The "no-fly list" ain't what it used to be. Back in 2002, when I had my own brush with this legal travesty, it was at least plausible that the secret designation had something to do with airline security.

These days, as civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald points out, the list has taken on a new function:
State punishment without charges and trials is now perfectly normal -- for Muslims.
According to an article in the Oklahoman, Saadiq Long served in the Air Force with distinction. For several years he has lived in Qatar with his wife and children, making a living teaching English. Last November he sought to fly home to see his sick mother -- and was told the U.S. had barred him. U.S. citizens and rights advocacy groups like CAIR kicked up enough fuss so the man was finally allowed to return to his country. On arrival he was tailed by the FBI who also told local law enforcement, falsely, that he and his sister were fleeing felons.

Knowing that someone in the government had it in for him, Long and his lawyers alerted authorities when he planned to fly back to his overseas job -- but nonetheless he was barred from boarding a plane. Why? Well, as we learned over 10 years ago now, our Heimat Security bureaucrats insist they don't have to say.
…TSA spokesman David Castelveter would only say this: "It's my understanding this individual was denied a boarding pass by the airline because he was on a no-fly list. The TSA does not confirm whether someone is or is not on the no-fly list, as that list is maintained by the FBI."
Somebody, in some FBI office or some other crevice of our surveillance bureaucracy, has decided this guy has to be punished. No charges, no process, no nothing. During the several months Long has been in Oklahoma, the government could easily have charged him with any illegal act. If they have even a ghost of case, the spooks seldom hesitate to shout about it -- justifies their budgets. But not a peep here.

Mr. Long's lawyer writes:
Saadiq hasn't been indicted, charged or convicted of any crime. And yet the FBI has claimed for itself the power to impose permanent punishment upon Saadiq: life without air travel. If FBI agents can impose this sentence on Saadiq, they can do the same to any of us.
So they can.

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