Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The Secret Enemy Could be You
In an op-ed piece in the Christian Scientist Monitor from the March 09, 2005 edition titled
Gun Laws Help Terror Suspects
"Why is it, nearly three and half years after 9/11, that suspected terrorists on the federal government's watch lists are still allowed to buy guns in the US?
That's the troubling question raised by a new Government Accountability Office report, released Tuesday.
In fact, dozens of such suspects were approved to buy or carry a gun between February and June of 2004, according to the report, because they weren't automatically disqualified under current gun law. Unbelievably, in a nine-month period in 2004, the GAO found that 47 of 58 gun applications from suspected terrorists on an FBI watch list were actually approved."
I don't think we should be selling guns to terrorists and I think most Americans will agree with me on this point.
However, the op-ed piece referred to "an FBI watch list". My guess is the reason they did this is there are, according to the GAO in an April 2003 report, twelve such lists maintained by the Federal Government.
"Terrorist watch list are developed, maintained, or used by federal, state and local government entities, as well as by private-sector entities, to secure our nation's borders. Twelve such lists currently maintained by federal agencies. These lists contain various types of data, from biographical data - such as a person's name and date of birth - to biometric data - such as fingerprints."
The problem is these are secret lists anyone can be on them, with no recourse.
From USA today, December 10, 2004
"The lists are wrapped in secrecy. The government doesn't disclose criteria for placing people on them, how many names are listed or any of the identities.
In a number of well-publicized incidents, people with names similar to others on the lists were stopped from boarding planes. One that happened to is Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
"To expand the use of something that's already so error-prone is shocking," said Marcia Hofmann, attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based advocacy group.
There's no formal procedure for people to correct misinformation that caused their names to be added to the lists. The intelligence bill orders the Homeland Security Department to establish procedures for names to be removed as well as added."
I'm a lot more troubled by the Federal Government maintaining secret enemy lists than I am by 47 gun applications being approved for people on those lists.
Posted by Ralph Long at 2:25 PM