ACLU Attacks US Terrorist List


ACRU Staff


July 17, 2008

The ACLU has issued a press release decrying the addition of the one millionth name to the Terrorist Watch List of the Department of Homeland Security. It brought forward just two people who were inconvenienced by the list. It claimed that no terrorists have been caught by the list. It demonstrated it is willing to sacrifice any number of American lives for the ACLU definition of freedom.

The facts for this article, but not the legal conclusions, come from a July 14th press release from the ACLU itself. The release takes the assumed occasion of the one millionth name added to the Terrorist Watch List maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, to attack that list.

The growth of the list to one million names is an extrapolation from a September 2007 report by the Inspector General of the Justice Department that it was then “growing by 20,000 names a month.” The importance of this story is not the precise time that the list reached one million. It is the absurd conclusions the ACLU reaches about the list.

Here are the ACLU’s own statements about how bad this list is: “Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other `suspicious characters,’ with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Congress needs to fix it, the Terrorist Screening Center needs to fix it, or the next president needs to fix it, but it has to be done soon.”

What is the evidence for this massive infliction of harm on the traveling public? Exactly two citizens joined with ACLU officials in decrying the one million milestone. Here are their stories, assuming these are true. “Jim Robinson, former assistant attorney general for the Civil Division … flies frequently and is often delayed for hours despite possessing a governmental security clearance and Akif Rahman, an American citizen … has been detained and interrogated extensively at the U.S.-Canada border when traveling for business.”

Think about that. Is there any list of a million names, assembled by any human entity from the federal government to Sears Roebuck and Company, which had as few as two, serious mistakes on it? With unintended irony, the ACLU has just proved that the list works just fine, considering the flaws all human endeavors are prone to have.

The ACLU’s own press release demonstrates that it is not concerned with making the Terrorist Watch List more accurate. It simply wants to destroy that list by wrapping it in bureaucracy and red tape, so it disappears like the terrorist, Mr. Tuttle (Robert deNiro), at the end of the movie, Brazil.

Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program proclaimed, “I doubt this thing would even be effective at catching a real terrorist.” Mr. Steinhardt is behind in his reading. The list has already caught more terrorists than the ACLU has found complainers to speak against the list.

Perhaps the most telling point about the ACLU press release against the list is it never mentions either the reason the list was created, or the agency that maintains it. Just a refresher for the ACLU, the list was created after it came out that several of the 9/11 hijackers and murderers were on immigration watch lists, which did not reach the level of police and other officials who came in contact with them before the attacks.

There is also tremendous irony in the masthead of the ACLU at the top of this press release. It says, “Because freedom can’t protect itself.” No, freedom cannot protect itself. That’s why the US has a Terrorist Watch List, among other steps to defend Americans. In this one-page press release, the ACLU shows why it is the opposite of what it proclaims to be, that it is an enemy of American freedom, not a defender of it.

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