Cheney Biographer, Fox News Contributor Put On DHS Terrorist Watchlist; Harry Reid's Spokesperson Says It's No Big Deal

from the oh-really? dept

Stephen Hayes, who is the official biographer of former Vice President Dick Cheney and who also authored an entire book promoting dubious claims that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had a close working relationship, is the sort of person who basically seems to support nearly all of our government’s excesses in the supposed “war on terror.” So, as some people noted, there seems to be a bit of irony in the fact that he has ended up on the DHS Terrorist Watchlist.

As we’ve discussed, the recently leaked guidelines about how you get on the watchlist shows that it’s incredibly (and ridiculously) vague. It can be summed up as “someone at DHS thinks you did anything that might possibly be suspect, so onto the watchlist you go.” That’s why nearly half of the people on the list have no actual terrorist affiliation.

As for how Hayes ended up on the list, he claims it’s because he recently booked a one-way flight to Istanbul for a cruise, returning to the US from Athens a few weeks later. Indeed, that seems likely. Marcy Wheeler has been pointing out for a while that one of the criteria to be put on the watchlist is merely “travel… to a locus of TERRORIST ACTIVITY” and apparently Istanbul counts.

In fact, Spencer Ackerman, at the Guardian, actually got US officials to quietly admit that those reports you’ve heard of 100 Americans “fighting for ISIS” is an almost entirely bogus claim based entirely on Americans who “travelled to Syria or attempted to travel to Syria over the past 18 months.” In other words, if you’re an American and you happened to travel to or near Syria, the US government claims you’re fighting for ISIS — even if, say, you went to provide humanitarian aid or to fight against ISIS. The US government doesn’t care. Onto the “terrorist” list you go.

Speaking of not caring, when asked about Hayes being placed on the watchlist, Senator Harry Reid’s long-time spokesperson (who previously worked for Senator Ted Kennedy) gave a “who cares?” response:

I have no idea and frankly don’t really care why [a] Bush/Cheney apologist ended up on a TSA watch list — Senator Kennedy was on a list as well

That is… an absolutely ridiculous response, and shows just how out of touch those in power have become. The proper response is that if people like both Stephen Hayes and Ted Kennedy are ending up on a terrorist watchlist something is seriously screwed up with that list and the process to get people on the list. Besides, isn’t it a little disturbing that a person in power on one side of the traditional political spectrum shrugs off the government putting someone at the other end of that spectrum on a terrorist watchlist?

No one’s legitimately worried about any harm done to Hayes for being on that list. He’s going through the motions to get off the list, which I’m sure will work out just fine. Because he’s white and a person of some influence with connections to famous politicians. But, as we’ve covered, if you happen to be Muslim, and happen to be put on the list it’s nearly impossible to get off. Even if you’re politically connected, being Muslim means that you can be put on a watchlist here in the US.

At some point you have to ask what is the point of all of this. It doesn’t seem to be about making us any safer.

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Comments on “Cheney Biographer, Fox News Contributor Put On DHS Terrorist Watchlist; Harry Reid's Spokesperson Says It's No Big Deal”

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42 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: This is why

Because Americans might piss their pants over the idea of someone actually having been in contact with Islamic culture? I can’t think of any other reason why Istanbul might be suspect enough to call you a terroist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East#Traditional_definition_of_the_Middle_East

According to that list, 3 major tourist destinations for Europeans (Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus) are the “middle east”, and I’ve personally been to all three. Never had a problem. In fact, the only concern I’d ever had was that after visits to those countries and Morocco, I didn’t want to have to explain the Arabic stamps in my passport when I subsequently went to Las Vegas. So, I opted to get my passport renewed before going so that I didn’t have to have an extended talk with an ignorant customs officer.

Other than that, visits to places like Istanbul shouldn’t be much of a concern. You certainly shouldn’t be afraid of being treated like a terrorist for visiting a country where British travel agents routinely offer package holidays.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

“In other words, if you’re an American and you happened to travel to or near Syria, the US government claims you’re fighting for ISIS — even if, say, you went to provide humanitarian aid or to fight against ISIS. The US government doesn’t care. Onto the “terrorist” list you go.”



I’d say that I hate this government now, but I don’t want to be put on The List.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Not a little

isn’t it a little disturbing that a person in power on one side of the traditional political spectrum shrugs off the government putting someone at the other end of that spectrum on a terrorist watchlist?

Yes, it’s a lot disturbing. Unfortunately, that sort of thinking (viewing everything through the lens of partisan warfare) is so common as to be considered the norm. Not just in Washington D.C., either: the effort to divide us along party lines has been so successful that it’s a part of daily life now. I remember when extreme partisans were considered kooks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: disturbing indeed, for so many reasons

Yeah the guy just visited a NATO Ally…one that is aiding ISIS instead of having 70 000 soldiers ready to invade Northeast Syria, the hotbed of terrorists that ASSAD told us were terrorists and he was right all along.

I’d go with a secular tyrant who only imprisons the extremely religious (insane), even moderately religious should be kept an eye on over the mess that is going on there right now.

Don’t you guys also miss Saddam ? B’aath Party is about Arab Socialism, something treasonous according to Saudia Arabia and that’s why this party got started. The US being the bitches of Monarchs for delicious cheap oil.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: disturbing indeed, for so many reasons

I’d go with a secular tyrant who only imprisons the extremely religious (insane), even moderately religious should be kept an eye on over the mess that is going on there right now.

This is a disturbing trend. After the first world war the territory of the former Ottoman Empire (and other previous Islamic Empires) was taken over by “strongmen”. Kemal Ataturk was the prototype and Nasser, Assad (Mk 1), Saddam, Gadafy etc followed in their footsteps.

They tended to emphasise Nationalism and de-scope religion and tribalism as far as possible. (although they often relied on cronies from a particular tribe for their core support. In general the non-islamic communities in their countries did rather well – often getting government jobs (eg Tariq Aziz).

These people had to work hard to keep the religious genie in the bottle and this often required oppressive methods – but it seems (from what we see now) that this was better than the alternative.

Anonymous Coward says:

Supporting the war on terror is in large part about keeping people believing that terrorists are a serious threat to the nation. Most people react to that kind of news with concern or outright alarm: they’re terrified it might be true. Therefore, people who try to convince you that the war on terror is necessary are using the threat of a independently owned and operated terrorist attack to affect politics, which sounds like the textbook definition of terrorism. Thus, people who try to convince you that the war on terror is necessary are, in fact, terrorists and it makes perfect sense to put them on a terrorist watchlist.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

and now for something completely different...

…although it could be argued that a cheney-esque disregard for poorer, darker people he engendered along his entire career, is semi-responsible for this:
the young black man MURDERED in the walmart because some lying fat slob of a cracker called 911 on him GROSSLY EXAGGERATING what was going on (‘i’m gonna be a hero, i’m gonna be a big fat stupid, ignorant shithead hero ! !!’), and was subsequently MURDERED on sight by PIGS, said PIGS have NOT been indicted by the grand jury…

unfortunately for the lying pigs, they had to release the surveillance videos which -surprise- SHOWS THEY ARE LYING MURDEROUS PIGS…

i tell you what, i would COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND and sympathize if EVERY BLACK MAN in amerika rose up and slit the throats of every white person…

there is NO JUSTICE, only might makes right…
where does that leave *us*, kampers ? ? ?

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: and now for something completely different...

Whew. Get a grip!

As for your question, “Where does that leave us?” Basically, it leaves us in a nation much like any other where “justice” is carried out clumsily and with partiality to power brokers. In general, it is just a matter of degree. While I mourn at how far our nation has traveled down that slippery slope, I am also occasionally encouraged when I see things done right. I often wonder if it is even possible to turn this Titanic of a nation around, but in my opinion that will only happen when enough people repent of moral compromise, political complacency, and personal (as opposed to ideological) intolerance.

As for the attempted racial genocide you propose, even a brief perusal of history and the horrors of flip-flopping revolutions where your scenario takes place repeatedly should teach us that ‘more injustice’ is never the solution to injustice.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: and now for something completely different...

realizing that in Empire, 99 times out of a hundred, that was a white boy, wouldn’t have been NOTHING made of it…

and that FAR TOO MANY TIMES out of a MILLION times as many ‘incidents’ (driving while black, walking while black, living while black, etc) happen where a black person is killed on sight…

i can ONLY despise such an Empire…
i can ONLY imagine the justified rage of those at the hind end of Empire…
i can ONLY beg forgiveness for being part of such an Empire…
i can ONLY despair when bread, circuses AND a shiny ifucking phone keep the rabble in line…

i understand IF a black person would want to slit the throats of every white person on the planet; didn’t say i condone it, or would put my whitebread/cracker neck on the block voluntarily… said i understand it…

SAME as i understand if ANY OF MILLIONS of moose limbs despise US, and want to slit our throats… if i’m joe achmed, and you drone MY family/tribe/town, fuck you to death, is what i ululate…

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Besides, isn’t it a little disturbing that a person in power on one side of the traditional political spectrum shrugs off the government putting someone at the other end of that spectrum on a terrorist watchlist?

20 years ago, it would have been. Today, it’s just business as usual. Sometimes I wonder if Tom Clancy didn’t have the right idea about the US political system…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Or visiting Ukraine while it was still technically governed by an ally of Russia. Another chip on my shoulder, the Ukraine/Russia thing is a family feud. They’re both the same people, lots of Ukrainians and viceverca care about each other, what I saw on Maiden was racist Ukrainians and nationalis, engineered by Georges Soros that sack of shit.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Of course they don’t see why it’s a big deal, a single phone call and they’re off the list, all they have to do is name-drop who they are and/or who they work for and the ‘unfortunate mistake’ will be cleared up within a day.

So for them, being placed on the list isn’t going to affect them to any real extent. For those less ‘fortunate’ though, those that have to fight tooth and nail to be even told that they are on one of those lists, it’s a much, much bigger deal.

Anonymous Coward says:

people are put on these lists because they can be, simple as that! and as for those that say it is ‘no big deal’, it isn’t for them, because they are not on the list! try it and see how it makes you feel. when you are an ordinary, basically honest, upright citizen, who has no police record and hopefully wont have one, why would your own government think so little of you that you are basically classed as an undesirable alien, someone who shouldn’t be in that country or even exist, someone who intends to do massive harm to others, someone who is classed as a terrorist!

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