Why does this keep happening?
A candidate for Congress has been put on a federal watch list as a possible terror suspect, and he wants to know why.
Dr. Robert Johnson, a Democrat from Sackets Harbor, near Watertown, [New York,] who is challenging incumbent Republican John McHugh in the 23rd District, said he was denied access aboard a Continental Airlines flight to Florida on Jan. 17 from Syracuse after officials informed him that he was on a "no-fly" list....
"Why would a former lieutenant colonel who swore an oath to defend and protect our country pose a threat of terrorism?" Johnson said.
Johnson, who ran against McHugh and lost in 2004, has been outspoken against the war in Iraq. He wonders if that is why he wound up on the list.
"This could just be a government screw-up, but I don't know, and they won't tell me." ...
Hmmm ... a few weeks ago we learned that James Moore, coauthor of the Karl Rove book Bush's Brain, had somehow wound up on the no-fly list. And back in '04 Ted Kennedy showed up on the list for a while.
Funny -- I'm still waiting to hear that a Bush supporter made the list through a "government screw-up."
Like, say, Peggy Noonan. Recently she took a recent trip to Florida, and to hear her tell it, she experienced the quintessence of Stalinist totalitarianism because she was treated less than fawningly by airport security people who mispronounced words:
...I gave the speech that night, and returned the next morning to the West Palm Beach airport for the flight home.... Again roughly a thousand people, again all of them being yelled at by airport and TSA personnel. Get your computers out. Shoes off. Jackets off. Miss, Miss, I told you, line four. No, line four. So much yelling and tension, and all the travelers in slump-shouldered resignation and fear....
This was East Germany in 1960. It was the dictatorship of the clerks, and the clerks were not in a good mood.
After a half hour in line I get to the first security point.
"Linfah," says the young woman who checked my ID.
"Linfah." She points quickly and takes the next person's ID.
"I'm so sorry, I don't understand."
Now she points impatiently. How stupid could I be?
Line Five. Oh. OK....
Where is the Solzhenitsyn who will record this suffering for the ages!
Noonan, by the way, lives in New York City. If brusque service personnel and lack of proper elocution give her the vapors, I don't know how she ever manages to leave the apartment.
Hey, Peggy -- you want an unpleasant airport experience? Let Bob Herbert remind you what happened to Maher Arar (free link):
...On Sept. 26, 2002, Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, was taken into custody by American authorities at Kennedy Airport in New York. He was locked in chains and shackles and accused of being "a member of a known terrorist organization."
There was no evidence to support the accusation, and no evidence has ever come to light. Nevertheless, as part of the hideous U.S. policy known as extraordinary rendition, Mr. Arar was shipped off to Syria, where he was kept in an underground rat-infested, grave-like cell, and tortured. (When I visited him in Ottawa last year, he told me how he had screamed and wept and begged both God and his captors for mercy.)
After 10 months, he was released. No charges against him were ever filed....
He's still experiencing post-traumatic stress and the U.S. government defeated him in a lawsuit in which he sought restitution. Wanna trade places, Peg?