The Insidious Effects of Security State Blacklists

Many people have blogged the New York Times's account of the would-be pilot who can't fly because the government has put him on a secret list he can't get off. But none of the blogs I read has noted the most insidious and evil aspect of the story in With Watch List, Pilot's Career Is Stalled.

Yes, it's very very evil that this man has been denied not just due process, but any process at all to remove this serious impediment to his chosen career. His freedom is compromised.

And the article paints him as a nice, sympathetic guy, a victim, who just happens to have helped a 9/11 terrorist by giving him a ride to flight school, and also helped him move some furniture one day. I have no reason to doubt that Juan Carlos Merida is innocent of any crime, and is as nice as the quoted people say he is.

But look at what the circumstances of being trapped in this Kafkaesque vise did to Mr. Nice Guy:

In his eagerness to prove his loyalty and win over the F.B.I., Mr. Merida said, he readily agreed to agents' requests last year to supply confidential information on other flight school students. But that has gotten him nowhere, he said.

That's right. Mr. Nice Guy was so desperate to get off the US government blacklist that he became an informer on his fellow students. And even that wasn't enough.

So we have secret arbitrary blacklists that make you berufsverbot. We have people crawling to the secret service offering to be informers to save their careers. Will the next step will be secret denunciations. Almost certainly. If it goes on long enough then, in time, stoolies will have to meet their quotas for denunciations or get in trouble. Yes, I've seen this movie before. It wasn't pretty. But last time the actors had Russian and East German accents.

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4 Responses to The Insidious Effects of Security State Blacklists

  1. He supplied “confidential information”?

    Your (apparent) knee-jerk reaction to that seems to have been different from mine. I thought: If he’s the kind of person who would do that sort of thing, then perhaps he’s precisely the kind of person who should be on that watch list.

    The American Way (which has not exactly been extolled by our government since FDR’s considerable dismantling of it in the middle of the last century) is to put justice (political rights) above our own self-interests (economic standing). It appears that while our government hasn’t exactly been living up to the standards of the American Way in this issue, this “nice” pilot isn’t doing so hot with it, either. There’s a crisis of ethics in the government AND the population which elects them.

    I’ve seen this movie before, too, and it isn’t pretty.

  2. HooBoy says:

    Shorter Veiled Chameleon: The kind of people who would inform on people need to have people informing on them.

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  4. Paul Gowder says:

    What, we don’t already have secret denunciations? I’ve been assuming we do. I mean, they tried to do project TIPS, the public freaked… have you ever known the Bush administration to abandon an idea just because the public freaks?

    Yours in totally understandable given the maniacs we have in office paranoia,


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