Tuesday 25th of June 2024

flight risks .....

flight risks .....

The Bush Republicans with complicit Democrats have essentially brought government accountability to an end in the US. The US government has 80,000 people, including ordinary American citizens, on its “no-fly list.” No one knows why they are on the list, and no one on the list can find out how to get off it. An unaccountable act by the Bush administration put them there.

Airport Security harasses and abuses people who do not fit any known definition of terrorist. Nalini Ghuman, a British-born citizen and music professor at Mills College in California was met on her return from a trip to England by armed guards at the airplane door and escorted away. A Gestapo goon squad tore up her US visa, defaced her British passport, body searched her, and told her she could leave immediately for England or be sent to a detention center.

Professor Ghuman, an Oxford University graduate with a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, says she feels like the character in Kafka’s book, The Trial. “I don’t know why it’s happened, what I’m accused of. There’s no opportunity to defend myself. One is just completely powerless.” Over one year later there is still no answer.

The Bush Republicans and their Democratic toadies have, in the name of “security,” made all of us powerless. While Senator John Kerry and his Democratic colleagues stand silently, the Bush administration has stolen our country from us and turned us into subjects.

America Is No More

Jan Adams and Rebecca Gordon, American peace activists, tried to check in at the San Francisco airport for a trip to Boston in August 2002. Airport personnel who said that these middle-aged women were on the "master list" called the police and notified the FBI. At least twenty other peace activists are confirmed to be on the list: A 74-year-old Catholic nun who works for peace was detained in Milwaukee; Nancy Oden, a leader of the Green Party, was prevented from flying from Maine to Chicago.

Free speech advocates are on the list: King Downing of the ACLU was detained in the Boston airport in 2003. David Fathi, also of the ACLU, was detained as well. Scholars who defend the Constitution are on the list: in 2007, Professor Walter F. Murphy, emeritus of Princeton, one of the nation's foremost Constitutional scholars, who had recently spoken critically of Bush's assault on the Constitution, was detained for being on a "watch list." A TSA official confirmed informally that it was probably because Murphy had criticized the President, and warned him that his luggage would be ransacked.

In 2005, "Evo Morales"-- which is the name of the President of Bolivia, who has criticized Bush-appeared on the list, beside President Morales' birthdate. After Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, gave a speech at the United Nations criticizing Bush, Chavez's foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, was detained at Kennedy Airport. When Maduro explained that he was Venezuela's foreign minister, he said that officers "threatened and shoved" him. According to President Chavez, the officers accused Maduro of participating in terrorist acts. The chilling effect from this last example could be profound: Any staffer of any foreign government or international regulatory body can be detained.

Now, there are tens of thousands of people on the list.

Where did the list come from? In 2003, President Bush had the intelligence agencies and the FBI create a "watch list" of people thought to have terrorist intentions or contacts. These agencies gave the list to the TSA and the commercial airlines. 60 Minutes got one copy of the list: It was 540 pages long. That list of people to be taken aside for extra screening had 75,000 names on it.

The more stringent "no-fly list" had 45,000 names; before 9/11 there were just 16 names. The list is so secret that even Congresspeople have been prevented from looking at it. People on the list endure searches that can last for hours. One American citizen, Robert Johnson, described "the humiliation factor" of being strip-searched: "I had to take off my pants. I had to take off my sneakers, then I had to take off my socks. I was treated like a criminal." Donna Bucella, who was at that time head of the FBI program that oversaw the list, told 60 Minutes, "Well, Robert Johnson will never get off the list."

Are You on the Government's 'No Fly' List?