June 26, 2009

No Fly, No Buy Act of 2009

Problems With "No Buy" Terror Watch List

Similar to "No Fly List," and Like "No Fly List" Impedes Non-Terrorists

June 21, 2009

Imagine not being able to buy a home, car, or other "big-ticket" item because your name shows up on a terror watch list. That's happening to some people who haven't committed a crime and aren't terrorists, Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen reported Monday.

The "No Buy" list terror watch list, Koeppen explains, is similar to the "No Fly" list you've probably heard of. The latter is designed to prevent terrorists from boarding planes. And, says Koeppen, the "No Buy" list is hindering some innocent people, in the same way the "No Fly" list does.

Sandy Cortez knows that all too well. When the grandmother from the Denver area went to buy a car, she thought it would be a simple transaction, but she got the shock of her life: Her name popped up on a terror watch list when the dealership pulled her credit report.
"I was actually waiting for the FBI to come charging in through the door with guns blazing!" Cortez told Koeppen.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control--known as OFAC for short--keeps track of known terrorists, drug traffickers, and proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. The current list has more than 7,000 names and aliases, and companies aren't allowed to do business with anyone on the list. In fact, they have to check the list before any credit transactions can take place.

The Sandra Cortez Koeppen spoke to came up as a possible match for Sandra Cortes Quintero--an accused drug trafficker from Colombia. But besides their first names, no other information matched. The Treasury Department admits the list generates false positives, but refused to tell CBS News how many innocent people have been affected.
"Virtually anyone in America could be on that list," says Phillip Hwang of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.
His organization put out a report documenting dozens of cases of consumers who were denied homes, health insurance, even the purchase of a treadmill because of an OFAC alert.
"You know, someone who happens to have the last names Lucas, Gibson, Diaz--all of a sudden finds that they are being identified as potential terrorists, and it really creates a lot of anxiety and panic among consumers."
Recently released government documents show complaint after complaint from consumers caught up by the "No Buy" list, Koeppen points out. One from a Naval officer reads,
"Please tell me this was some mistake and you normally do not treat veterans of the U.S. military who served honorably ... in this fashion."
Another man was confused with Saddam Hussein's son. Another says receiving an OFAC alert subjected him to "serious complications and humiliations."
"This is a very troubling practice," Hwang says, "and the federal government has a responsibility and a role to play, because they are the ones putting out the watch list."
But Treasury officials say it's not them; they say the problem stems from the OFAC matching databases supplied by the credit bureaus. They are among the companies that get paid to search the list and supply information to lenders.

Stuart Pratt, president of the Consumer Data Industry Association, tells Koeppen,
"Congress said there had to be a list. And Congress said there's a law that lenders have to look at the list."
Pratt says the large fines and possible jail time for companies that do business with someone on the list forces his members to cast a wide net in their searches.
"OFAC," says Pratt, "needs to provide lenders with better guidance on what they're supposed to do to match data. The OFAC guidance says, 'Don't (establish a) match off of a single name,' but OFAC doesn't give you much guidance for what you're supposed to do when you have three names... And, by the way, for almost every record on the OFAC list, there are aliases, 'akas.' "
With the Treasury Department and the companies that provide OFAC alerts pointing fingers at each other, consumers such as Sandy Cortez are left to fend for themselves, Koeppen says. She sued the credit bureau that provided her OFAC alert and has spent the past three years trying to clear her good name.

When Koeppen noted that,"The Treasury Department says, 'Yes, a few innocent people might get caught up in this, but it's for the greater good,' " Cortez asked, "How does putting OFAC alerts on my credit report, an accountant, a grandmother from Colorado, help national security?"

How do you get off the list once you're on. It's not easy, that's for sure, Koeppen says. If you're applying for credit to buy something big, fill out your paperwork completely, and warn businesses when you walk in that you're popping up in the list, and it's a mistake.

Proposed Law Allows Attorney General to Block Gun Sales to Over a Million Americans

New York Times
June 20, 2009

...Senator Frank R. Lautenberg plans to introduce legislation on Monday that would give the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales to people on terror watch lists.

The government’s consolidated watch list, used to identify people suspected of links to terrorists, has grown to more than one million names since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It also has drawn widespread criticism over the prevalence of mistaken identities and unclear links to terrorism.

A report in May from the Justice Department inspector general found that the list kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation carried the names of 24,000 people included on the basis of outdated or sometimes irrelevant information.

Gun rights advocates said showing up on a terrorist watch list should not be grounds for being denied a gun.
“We’re concerned about the quality and the integrity of the list,” said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association. “There have been numerous studies and reports questioning the integrity, and we believe law-abiding people who are on the list by error should not be arbitrarily denied their civil rights” under the Second Amendment.
Mr. Lautenberg introduced a similar gun-control measure in 2007, but it stalled after opposition from the N.R.A. The senator attributed the outcome to “knuckling under to the gun lobby.”

Mr. Arulanandam said the gun lobby would have to examine the details of the newest proposal before taking a position. But he added: “Senator Lautenberg has always been on the wrong side of the Second Amendment. His approach is not in the interests of public safety...”

Bill H.R. 2401: No Fly, No Buy Could Set Dangerous Precedent

By Tony Pacheco, Kansas City Headlines Examiner
May 13, 2009

Representative Carolyn McCarthy introduced H.R. 2401: No Fly, No Buy Act of 2009. The bill states,
"To increase public safety and reduce the threat to domestic security by including persons who may be prevented from boarding an aircraft in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and for other purposes."
To simplify, the TSA's No Fly list, which currently has over one million names, will be combined with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used to authorize the sale of firearms.

Hold up Rahmbo, did you just say, "if you are on the No Fly list because you are known as maybe a possible terrorist, you cannot buy a hand gun in America." Read that again, "you are known as maybe a possible terrorist." So let me get this straight, this bill will diminish a citizens natural-born right to own a hand gun because you think he might be [a possible terrorist]? Not good enough. Where did the fifth amendment go?

Before we move on, let's take a closer look at the TSA's current No Fly list. The list is an ineffective joke; there's no other way to put it. Just look at any number of these cases involving the No Fly list and you'll quickly see how ineffective it is.

Here is a document outlining numerous cases of innocent people harassed at the airport for being on the list. These are official reports supplied by a freedom of information act

Given those instances, it's obvious the list is ineffective at best. Unfortunately, as more DHS reports (which outline who the government views as terrorists or extremists) are released, one could only conclude those will serve as guidelines to continually add names to the No Fly list, therefore robbing citizens of their second amendment based on their views without a judge or jury. The Department of Homeland Security's Lexicon outlines who needs close surveillance for local law enforcement officials.

I have two big problems with these lists. The first being, there doesn't seem to be a clear cut way for an innocent person to get off this list. Could you imagine living your life as well and clean as could be only to be sideswiped by a list you have no business being on? My second problem is this: why aren't you notified? Why must you find out this horrendous surprise at the airport? If you really are a threat to America, why aren't you questioned the moment your added to the list? Why would our government allow over one million known or suspected terrorists to roam around the States without interference? I don't know, but I'd sure like an answer.

Who’s A Low Level Terrorist? Are You?
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us. Recently, an American Civil Liberties Union report pointed out, "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as ‘low level terrorism’.”

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