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Who's Watching the Watch List?

By John Graham, AlterNet. Posted July 7, 2005.



My name is on a list of real and suspected enemies of the state and I can't find out what I'm accused of or why, let alone defend myself. 

Heading for Oakland from Seattle to see my grandkids last week, the Alaska Airlines check-in machine refused to give me a boarding pass. Directed to the ticket counter, I gave the agent my driver's license and watched her punch keys at her computer.

Frowning, she told me that my name was on the national terrorist No Fly Watch List and that I had to be specially cleared to board a plane. Any plane. Then she disappeared with my license for 10 minutes, returning with a boarding pass and a written notice from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirming that my name was on a list of persons "who posed, or were suspected of posing, a threat to civil aviation or national security."

No one could tell me more than that. The computer was certain.

Back home in Seattle, I called the TSA's 800 number, where I rode a merry-go-round of pleasant recorded voices until I gave up. Turning to the TSA web site , I downloaded a Passenger Identity Verification form that would assist the TSA in "assessing" my situation if I sent it in with a package of certified documents attesting to who I was.

I collected all this stuff and sent it in. Another 20 minutes on the phone to the TSA uncovered no live human being at all, let alone one who would tell me what I'd presumably done to get on The List. Searching my mind for possible reasons, I've been more and more puzzled. I used to work on national security issues for the State Department and I know how dangerous our country's opponents can be. To the dismay of many of my more progressive friends, I've given the feds the benefit of the doubt on homeland security. I tend to dismiss conspiracy theories as nonsense and I take my shoes off for the airport screeners with a smile.

I'm embarrassed that it took my own ox being gored for me to see the threat posed by the Administration's current restricting of civil liberties. I'm being accused of a serious--even treasonous--criminal intent by a faceless bureaucracy, with no opportunity (that I can find) to refute any errors or false charges. My ability to earn a living is threatened; I speak on civic action and leadership all over the world, including recently at the US Air Force Academy. Plane travel is key to my livelihood.

According to a recent MSNBC piece, thousands of Americans are having similar experiences. And this is not Chile under Pinochet. It's America. My country and yours.

With no real information to go on, I'm left to guess why this is happening to me. The easiest and most comforting guess is that it's all a mistake (a possibility the TSA form, to its credit, allows). But how? I'm a 63-year-old guy with an Anglo-Saxon name. I once held a Top Secret Umbra clearance (don't ask what it is but it meant the FBI vetted me up the whazoo for months). And since I left the government in 1980, my life has been an open book. It shouldn't be hard for the government to figure out that I'm not a menace to my country.

If they do think that, I can't see how. Since 1983 I've helped lead the Giraffe Heroes Project, a nonprofit that moves people to stick their necks out for the common good. In the tradition of Gandhi, King and Mandela, that can include challenging public policies people think are unjust. In 1990, the Project's founder and I were honored as "Points of Light" by the first President Bush for our work in fostering the health of this democracy. I've just written a book about activating citizens to get to work on whatever problems they care about, instead of sitting around complaining.

I'm also engaged in international peacemaking, working with an organization with a distinguished 60-year record of success in places ranging from post-war Europe to Africa. Peacemakers must talk to all sides, so over the years I've met with Cambodians, Sudanese, Palestinians, Israelis and many others. You can't convince people to move toward peaceful solutions unless you understand who they are.

As I said, I'm not into conspiracy theories. But I can't ignore this administration's efforts to purge and punish dissenters and opponents. Look, for example, at current efforts to cleanse PBS and NPR of "anti-administration" news. But I'm not Bill Moyers and the Giraffe Heroes Project is not PBS. We're a small operation working quietly to promote real citizenship.

Whether it's a mistake or somebody with the power to hassle me really thinks I am a threat, the stark absence of due process is unsettling. The worst of it is that being put on a list of America's enemies seems to be permanent. The TSA form states:
"The TSA clearance process will not remove a name from the Watch Lists. Instead this process distinguishes passengers from persons who are in fact on the Watch Lists by placing their names and identifying information in a cleared portion of the Lists."

 

Which may or may not, the form continues, reduce the airport hassles.

Huh? My name is on a list of real and suspected enemies of the state and I can't find out what I'm accused of or why, let alone defend myself. And I'm guilty, says my government, not just until proven innocent or a victim of mistaken identity--but forever.

Sure, 9/11 changed a lot. Tougher internal security measures (like thorough screenings at airports and boundary crossings) are a dismal necessity. But, in protecting ourselves, we can't allow our leaders to continue to create a climate of fear and mistrust, to destroy our civil liberties and, in so doing, to change who we are as a nation. What a victory that would be for our enemies, and what a betrayal of real patriots and so many in the wider world who still remember this country as a source of inspiration and hope.

I don't think it's like Germany in 1936 -- but, look at Germany in 1930. Primed by National Socialist propaganda to stay fearful and angry, Germans in droves refused to see the right's extreme views and actions as a threat to their liberties.

And don't forget that frog. You know that frog. Dropped into a pot of boiling water, he jumps out to safety. But put him into a pot of cold water over a steady flame, he won't realize the danger until it's too late to jump.

So how hot does the water have to get? When the feds can rifle through your library reading list? When they can intimidate journalists? When a government agency can keep you off airplanes without giving you a reason? When there's not even a pretense of due process? We're not talking about prisoners at Guantanamo; this is you and me. Well, after last week, it sure as hell is me and it could be you, next.

Oh, yes -- Washington State just refused to renew my driver's license online, a privilege given others. I had to wait in line at the DMV before a computer decided I could drive home. This conspiracy theory debunker smells a connection to the Watch List.

I know what I will do. If my name is not removed completely from the Watch List in 45 days I will use every resource I've got to challenge the government of a country that I love and have served. In all the press about identity theft, I find myself railing at having my identity as a patriot stolen--by my own government. This must not stand.

John Graham is the author of
Stick Your Neck Out: A Street-smart Guide to Creating Change in Your Community and Beyond (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2005). He is also president of the Giraffe Heroes Project and a former US diplomat.

 

 

http://www.giraffe.org/hero_Azim.html

The bare facts of the story are these: Azim Khamisa’s 20-year-old son, Tariq, was making a delivery for a San Diego pizza parlor when he was shot and killed in a failed robbery attempt by a gang. The killer was Ples Felix’s 14-year-old grandson and ward, Tony Hicks, who was sentenced as an adult for the murder and is now imprisoned.

That could have been the end of the story. But it was only the beginning, as you might guess from the photo above. That’s Khamisa on the left, Felix on the right.

Khamisa, a banker whose family had fled violence in East Africa years earlier, was devastated by his son’s death, yet he reached out to the killer’s family, realizing that they too had lost a boy.


Felix, a former Green Beret who is a program manager for San Diego County, was devastated by what his grandson had done—on the first night he had ever defied his grandfather and left the house to meet with the gang. Felix went alone to a gathering of the grieving Khamisa family, telling them of his own grief over what his grandson had done.

Khamisa established a foundation in his son’s memory; and he and Felix formed an alliance that transforms their losses into a resolve to see that other families do not suffer such tragedies.

“There were victims on both ends of the gun,” says Khamisa. “Ples and I have become like brothers.”

Today Khamisa and Felix go again and again into schools—together—to talk to students about Tariq’s death and about gangs, to help the kids talk about the awful effects of violence on their own lives, and to affirm that they will avoid violence themselves. Kids hearing the two men’s story and seeing them working together also get an unforgettable picture of a response to violence that is not more violence and hatred.

Commenting on their work in schools, Khamisa says, “Every time you talk one youngster out of committing homicide, you save two.”

Both Felix and Khamisa are speaking out for “restorative justice,” a way of dealing with criminals that helps lawbreakers understand what they have done and make restitution to those they have harmed, rather than just sending them to prisons. “The way we deal now with lawbreakers does nothing for those they have injured, for reforming the criminal or for repairing society,” says Ples Felix. Further information on their work can be found at http://www.tkf.org

 
 

TRAITOR McCain

jewn McCain

ASSASSIN of JFK, Patton, many other Whites

killed 264 MILLION Christians in WWII

killed 64 million Christians in Russia

holocaust denier extraordinaire--denying the Armenian holocaust

millions dead in the Middle East

tens of millions of dead Christians

LOST $1.2 TRILLION in Pentagon
spearheaded torture & sodomy of all non-jews
millions dead in Iraq

42 dead, mass murderer Goldman LOVED by jews

serial killer of 13 Christians

the REAL terrorists--not a single one is an Arab

serial killers are all jews

framed Christians for anti-semitism, got caught
left 350 firemen behind to die in WTC

legally insane debarred lawyer CENSORED free speech

mother of all fnazis, certified mentally ill

10,000 Whites DEAD from one jew LIE

moser HATED by jews: he followed the law

f.ck Jesus--from a "news" person!!

1000 fold the child of perdition

 

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