Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Slap in the Face

Last night, Jon Stewart reported on... oh hell, you have to see it to believe it:

Part 2:

Yes, so the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, intended to help the heroes of 9-11 with their medical bills, "requires the WTC Program Administrator to determine whether a WTC responder or survivor is on the terrorist watch list prior to his or her enrollment or certification."

Jon Stewart handled the whole WTF, what a slap-in-the-face angle quite well, so I want to bring up one other issue. The U.S. Terrorist Watch List was intended to stop suspected terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft for travel in or out of the United States. I always felt the list was a bad idea to begin with, but now it has turned into a monster. Since September 11, 2001, the list has bloated to over 1 million names. People can be added to this list without due process -- no trial before a judge or jury will take place before a citizen's right to travel is diminished. Furthermore, there is no system to get your name removed from the list. And if you happen to share a name with somebody on the list? Tough luck.

But now it's not just a "no fly list." The stupid thing is being used in new, novel and purely political ways. I don't know how, in a democracy, we can tolerate a secret list of citizens who must constantly be scrutinized as suspects, yet never be given a day in court. If a "no fly list" can turn into a "no health care compensation list," then how long until Congress turns this into a "no vote list" or worse?

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