Due Process Killing Us?
Due process … … you know, everyone is innocent until PROVEN guilty …guaranteed by the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution… is killing us? At least according to Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia along with most of the Democratic Congressional caucus.
Nope… it’s not terrorists, but a basic right inherent to all of us. It is Due Process, that is killing people in night clubs, schools, government offices, on airplanes, during marathons. It is not the Islamic terrorists pulling the trigger.
In a recent interview on MSNBC, Manchin said:
“The problem we have—and really, the firewall we have right now, is due process. It’s all due process. So we can all say, ‘yeah, we want the same thing,’ but how do we get there. If a person is on a terrorist watch list like the gentleman—the shooter—in Orlando, he was, twice by the FBI, we were briefed yesterday about what happened. But that man was brought in twice. They did everything they could. The FBI did everything they were supposed to do. But there was no way for them to keep him on the nix list or keep him off the gun buy list. There was no way to do that. So can’t we say that if a person is under suspicion, there should be a five year period of time that we have to see if good behavior, if this person continues the same traits? Maybe we can come to that type of an agreement. But due process is what’s killing us right now.”
No doubt, some of my conservative friends … Trumpies included, will agree (maybe Trumpies especially since The Donald thinks it’s a good idea). We live in dangerous times. Extraordinary measures are required…right? Even to the point of deferring the personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
Terror Watch List – Poof, Problem Solved
So here’s the issue. Democrats and some Republicans want to strengthen gun laws so that no one who appears on the Terror Watch List can buy or own a firearm… legally at least.
No more guns for bad guys who want to murder us. Poof… problem solved. That’s why Democrats, led by John Lewis are currently staging sit-ins in Congress to force a vote and establish the Terror Watch List as the basis for denying gun ownership in America.
Sounds great… right? Well, not so much maybe.
We Trust Our Government – Don’t We?
Here is what this proposal really means and the reason the National Rifle Association and others oppose it. Any of the nineteen federal agencies that are tasked with preventing terrorism to some degree can place virtually anyone on the list.
But we trust our government, don’t we? Well, I suppose everyone needs to answer that for themselves, but keep in mind that the current administration believes that Islamic terrorism is really workplace violence, or gay bashing, or just ordinary criminal activity. There is no apparent significance, at least to the Obama administration, to the fact that the murderers are avowed Islamic jihadists.
Who Might be on the Terror Watch List – Damned Good Question
With that in mind, bureaucrats from federal agencies use 116 pages of guidelines to decide whether to put an American citizen on a terror watch list. Wow… they must be really thorough then. No way they will make a mistake. Think again.
In fact, the guidelines are so broad and agencies have so much latitude to add names that almost anyone can end up on the list for perfectly innocent reasons. According to the Associated Press, 468,749 people were “nominated” for inclusion on the Terror Watch List in 2013 alone.
I don’t know about you, but that seems like a lot of people. Still, government agencies run the watch lists so these 468,749 persons must be real threats to the security of our nation. After all, they only rejected 1% of those nominated for inclusion on the list.
Well, maybe not. In the last five years, 1.5 million people have been added to the list. Anyone, who believes that all of those people are terrorists, probably enjoys the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service or your State DMV… or thinks people are now paying less for health insurance under Obamacare.
Who might be on the Terror Watch List? That’s a damned good question.
In short, the Terror Watch List is full of names of people that are innocent of any act or thought of terrorism, and no, those names (known in the security world as “false positives”) aren’t all Islamic sounding names. Here’s just a few examples of people who have been included on Terror watch Lists:
- Numerous children, some less than a year old have been included.
- David Nelson (you know, from the old Ozzie and Harriet show
- Robert Johnson, a former colonel in the Army who ran as a Democrat for Congress and opposed the Iraq war
- Walter F. Murphy, professor of Jurisprudence at McCormick University
- 53 non-violent political activists were added by the Maryland State Police because they were known to have opposed the Iraq war and the death penalty as reported by the Washington Post in October of 2008.
- U.S. Representative Don Young, (R-AK)
The list goes on and there are thousands of others. How many? It’s hard to determine, primarily because the only way an average citizen knows they have been added to the Terror Watch List is when they go to the airport and are denied a boarding pass for their flight.
Broad Guidelines Mean That Anyone can be added to the Watch List
One thing is clear. Government officials can add pretty much anyone to the lists for almost no reason at all. According to the “Guidelines” and as reported by The Intercept, here are some of the reasons people can be placed on the Watch List:
- You might raise “reasonable suspicion” with some enforcement agency, as did the 53 protesters in Maryland mentioned above. The fact that they were non-violent had nothing to do with their inclusion on the list. No facts or actual evidence are required. Just some bureaucrat, in this case the State Police, deciding that it would be cool to put them on the terror watch list because… well they don’t agree with your politics or opinions.
- You might post something in Social media that has one of those watchwords, scanned by government agencies, or maybe images and opinions that some agency person finds suspicious.
- Somebody could report you as a potential terror threat without proof that you have committed or plan to commit any terrorist activity.
- You might know someone else who has been placed on the Terror Watch list, rightly or wrongly.
- You could just be unlucky and have a name like someone else. Ted Kennedy, David Nelson and John Lewis noted above had that problem.
- The bottom line is that someone can place you on the list, without you knowing about it and without proving that you have done anything wrong. If Democrats and Donald Trump get their way then you could lose a basic right guaranteed under the Constitution, without any proof or evidence being brought against you.
When government has the power to put your name on a list, without Due Process and thousands of agents and bureaucrats with their own agendas,working for a presidential administration with its own agenda, are the ones creating the list, … then government has the power to take your rights away… in this case the right to bear arms. No vote is required, no judge and jury decide. You simply lose the right.
That’s a lot of power to entrust to government functionaries and was certainly not the intent of the founders when they added the 5th Amendment, or Republicans who added the 14th after the Civil War. Such bureaucratic power invites… begs even… misuse. The very size and growth of the Watch List indicates its misuse.
Walk a Dangerous Path or a Real Solution
Walking the dangerous path towards eliminating Due Process may be appealing to those who would trade freedom for supposed safety and security, and as Franklin said … they deserve neither.
In the end, the whole issue of the Terror Watch List is a smokescreen… the latest ploy by the liberals to take firearms away from law abiding citizens.
So what is the solution? How do we ensure the safety of our country?
Much more difficult, but immensely more effective than destroying the Constitution would be to actually defeat radical Islamic groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. Identify them, say who they are and where they are. Kill them, demolish their countries of safe haven and make it known that joining ISIS is a death wish and puts you on the losing team.
Such a strategy would have two effects. It would destroy or greatly diminish the ability of radical Islamic groups to carry out organized attacks around the world and it would remove the allure that attracts the lone wolf terrorists acting in their behalf.
Despite their black clothing, masks and AK-47s, these people are no more invincible than were the Nazis or Imperial Japanese during WWII. Those enemies of freedom were defeated because the world united against them and killed them… beat them into submission. We now live in peace with the countries that harbored those murderous regimes.
The same can be done to radical Islam. Admit what it is we are fighting, unite and destroy it.
Unfortunately, we have become so weak as a people… at least some of us… that many are willing to give up freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution in exchange for the mere perception of safety.
Friends, giving in to the fear and willingly surrendering freedom is the victory our enemies seek. Such a surrender would be the true sign of their victory and the diminished state of our nation as a beacon of hope and freedom around the world. We cannot allow that to happen.
Our current president and all of those who feel that destroying freedom is the key to security could take a lesson from our first president, George Washington, who said in simple words: