I swear there’s cold front in Hell. First, the “we never met a gun control law we didn’t like” (until now) New York Times publishes an article ripping the No-Fly No Buy bills a new one. And now the equally anti-gun Vox.com crams I’m a former Marine who was on the no-fly list for 4 years — and I still don’t know why down the Intertubz. Here’s how a young man who served his country learned that his country removed his right to board a commercial aircraft.
“You’re on the no-fly list,” the woman at the kiosk told me. It was a Wednesday, six years ago, at Midway Airport in Chicago. I was traveling to Spokane, Washington, for my job as a dog trainer.
I had absolutely no idea how I could have ended up on the no-fly list. I waited for Ashton Kutcher to come out and tell me I was being Punk’d. No luck.
At least 30 federal agents swarmed me. They didn’t handcuff or manhandle me, but the sheer number of them was intimidating. I was in a state of shock, looking at them confusedly. Their expressions turned puzzled, too, when they noticed my Marine Corps shirt.
But being a veteran didn’t save me: The mob of agents led me into a private room for questioning.
I was certain there was a mix-up, and I wanted answers. How did this happen? When could I fly again? How did I end up on the list?
“Even if I knew the answers, I wouldn’t be able to tell you them,” said one FBI agent.
The questioning at the airport was brief, and they eventually let me go.
As the article’s title indicates, Uncle Sam grounded a Muslim Marine (with a Palestinian father) for the next four years, until his lawyers finally pressured the Feds to let him take wing. But not before this little tete-a-tete.
For a few months, there was radio silence from law enforcement. Then, out of the blue, I got a random phone call again from the same two agents. They invited me to Chicago for lunch and to answer any questions I had. The only question I had was if I was off the list.
The conversation seemed hopeful, so I agreed to meet them. They met me in their hotel lobby and invited me upstairs. There was no lunch. “We can get you off the list today,” they said.
One caveat — they could get me off the list if I agreed to become an informant at mosques.
I’m no James Bond. I have a wife and four kids. Why would I go undercover as a bargaining deal to be taken off the list when I hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place? I thought that in a few months the government would realize they’d made a mistake about me.
The encounter in the hotel room was a breaking point — I contacted the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyered up.
The Democratic and Republican proponents of No Fly, No Buy legislation under consideration in Congress claim their bills contain “safeguards” for Americans denied their gun rights.
Even if you consider post-facto judicial review of a suspected terrorist’s gun purchase denial — at the “accused’s” expense, without access to all the information ranged against him — due process, is this really the way we want our federal government to operate?
While I’d like to have faith in the U.S. legal system, what judge is willing to be “that guy”? The federal judge who told the United States intelligence services to go ahead and “allow” a “terrorist suspect” to exercise his gun rights and purchase a firearm — who then uses it for an attack? Better your Constitutional rights go down the toilet than be sorry later, right?
For four years, I was presumed guilty until proven innocent. Despite all the questions I answered for officials, mine has never been answered: why?
Because tyranny. Coming soon to a gun store near you?