No Fly Lists, Illegal Aliens and the Ravages of Political Correctness

October 18, 2004

By Tom DeWeese

Americans should not feel too secure with the U.S. government’s anti-terror policies because the targeted ones aren’t necessarily the terrorists. The government’s policies are based on the idea that it’s easier to put a net over an entire nation of law-abiding citizens than to take appropriate actions to catch the bad guys.

Maryland Special Education teacher Kathryn Harrington was flying home from vacation a few weeks ago when Tampa, Florida, airport security confiscated her bookmark as a potential weapon. It was an 8.5 inch leather strip with small lead weights at each end. Police said it resembled a weighted weapon that could be used to knock people unconscious. So the 52-year-old teacher was handcuffed, put into a police car, and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Though later released, she could have faced a possible criminal trial and a $10,000 fine.

The government’s no-fly list is the latest scheme to abuse trusting Americans. A growing number of news reports are detailing the absurd extremes government is willing to put U.S. citizens through in the name of fighting terrorism. Senator Ted Kennedy and singer Cat Stevens aside, there are more than 300,000 names on the no-fly list. Yet, according to comments by some members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, incredibly, the no-fly list doesn’t contain the names of ALL terrorists, just the names of those known to be threats to aviation. If you’re a truck-bomber, apparently your name’s not on the list.

If you are unfortunate enough to have one of those names similar to the few terrorist names that are actually on the no-fly list, then your travel plans become a nightmare of government agents, security guards, and strip searches. Meanwhile, the actual terrorists change their names, use false ID, and walk past you and your tormentors to board the plane.

The government has chosen to target you rather than focus on the bad guys, because using effective police methods isn’t politically correct. Some pressure group might get upset. It’s much less painful for the government to focus on helpless individuals who have no voice. In fact, the government wants to deliberately show force to you in order to convince Americans that it is working to protect you. And so we live in a world of the absurd.

For example, The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal Department of Transportation actually fines airlines who search more than two Arab travelers per flight. That would be profiling and profiling is wrong, says the policy. Yet every single one of the 9-11 hijackers was a male of Middle Eastern descent. Any good police detective knows that to catch a criminal you first must look at those who match the description. Airlines are not allowed to do that. The strict politically correct policy is to ignore the facts and randomly select by computer a certain few passengers to be searched each flight. That way it’s all fair!

The abuse of law-abiding American citizens doesn’t end with no-fly lists. There are now black lists in force for almost every one of our daily transactions. If you buy a car, go to a real estate closing, buy insurance or acquire credit, you will have to first pass through a terrorist name check. A 19-year-old in Kansas had to wait to buy a car because somehow his identity information got linked to that of an al Qaeda terrorist. A Connecticut couple’s house closing was delayed because the husband’s surname matched a name on the list. In both cases innocent Americans, not terrorists, were trapped by government black lists.

The situation will continue to get worse because government is threatening businesses with fines for not complying. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has compiled the main black list containing the names of thousands of individuals and businesses. The list now must be checked by businesses before certain transactions can be completed. The mandates for which transactions must be checked are so broad that businesses are deciding to err on the side of caution, choosing to check nearly every transaction. If the trend continues, it’s not too far fetched to suggest that, eventually, even buying lunch at Macdonald’s could be delayed while the black list is consulted.

Meanwhile, as Americans are subjected to such misdirected policy, the southern border of the nation is wide open. 4,000 illegal immigrants per day walk into the nation. An entire industry operates along the border to bring them in. There are safe houses, camps and transportation systems designed to help them disappear into the countryside. As TIME magazine reports, for the illegals, there are “no searches for weapons. No shoe removal. No photo-ID checks.” Such searches are reserved for legal Americans trying to travel around their own country. And these aren’t just illegals from Mexico. TIME reports that as many as 190,000 are from other countries, including the Middle East.

The man in charge of securing the border from such an invasion, Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson, admits that no law-enforcement officials are looking for the vast majority of the 8 million to 12 million illegal aliens thought to be in the country. Hutchinson told The Washington Times, “I don’t think America has the will (to expel them)”, adding, “I think we have too much compassion to tell our law-enforcement people to go out there and uproot those 8 million here.” Apparently Hutchinson has less compassion for legal American citizens who have to deal with their impact on our quality of life and national security. Hutchinson really means politicians don’t have the will to enforce our laws, especially in an election year.

It is politically correct to express compassion for the plight of those who steal into the country under cover of night. It is politically correct to be sensitive to the feelings of those of Middle Eastern decent. It is politically correct to impose black lists, national ID cards, searches of private property without warrants and strip search little old ladies under the excuse of fighting terrorism. But it is NOT politically correct to say these things are a danger to our liberties. Do you feel safer yet?

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center and National Grassroots Coordinator for CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) working to help local activists organize into Freedom Pods ( He is also the author of three books, including Now Tell Me I Was Wrong, ERASE, and Sustainable: the WAR on Free Enterprise, Private Property, and Individuals.