More Bad Ideas: Congressional Rep Suggests Participants In The Attack On The Capitol Building Be Added To The No-Fly List
from the we-need-less-of-this,-not-more dept
Proving that 2020 wasn’t done with us yet, January 6, 2021 added a new horror to the long list of things that showed “may you live in interesting times” is a curse, rather than a blessing. Urged on by the guy less than ten days away from being escorted from the premises by security and his favorite legal advocate — one that advocated for “trial by combat” over the election results — Trump supporters invaded Washington, DC, hoping to somehow nullify the election through intimidation and violence.
This violent debacle (and it was violent — five people dead and two explosive devices recovered) has resulted in a lot of backlash. The most immediate backlash will be felt by some of the red-hatted crowd that broke into the Capitol building in hopes of preventing election certification. An executive order signed by Trump — one targeting “violent, left-wing extremists” — will instead be used to enhance the prison sentences of violent, right-wing extremists. Perhaps the worst president in history will exit the office with his supporters feeling the brunt of this incredible self-own. MAGA, indeed.
But it’s back to business as usual, now that things have settled down. An attack on the election process has resulted in calls for action. And calls for action prompted by singular events with almost no chance of being repeated almost always result in things being made worse for millions of citizens who did nothing more than watch in horror as events unfolded.
The 9/11 attacks resulted in an expansion of the surveillance state. The tragic attack was leveraged to take power away from the people and give it to their government instead. The same thing appears to be happening now, with President-elect Joe Biden demanding a War on (Domestic) Terrorism. And other legislators are demanding more be done now, ignoring the dire repercussions of their demands in favor of inflicting pain on people who didn’t vote for them. (h/t Sam Mintz)
Flight attendants felt disturbed by the presence of Capitol Hill invaders on flights out of DC. This is fine. And, as private companies, airlines can certainly refuse to allow certain people to board their planes. But this private objection is being made public, courtesy of Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He wants these private complaints to become public by adding alleged “insurrectionists” to the incredibly expansive no-fly lists maintained by the federal government.
Given the heinous domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol yesterday, I am urging the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use their authorities to add the names of all identified individuals involved in the attack to the federal No-Fly List and keep them off planes. This should include all individuals identified as having entered the Capitol building—an intrusion which threatened the safety of Members of Congress and staff and served as an attack on our Nation.
We already saw reports of ‘unruly mobs’ in the air on the way to Washington, D.C. It does not take much imagination to envision how they might act out on their way out of D.C. if allowed to fly unfettered. This is an action that TSA and the FBI, by law, are able to take but, to my knowledge, have not yet taken. Alleged perpetrators of a domestic terrorist attack who have been identified by the FBI should be held accountable.
Lots to unpack here.
First, the TSA should not be given any permission to do anything, given that it’s done almost nothing with the vast amount of leeway it’s already been granted.
Second, no-fly lists are an unconstitutional mess. Even given the massive amount of deference judges grant to “national security” arguments, courts remain unconvinced that forbidding someone from flying (and then refusing to even acknowledge this fact, much less given them a chance to challenge this determination) isn’t a violation of their rights.
Adding a bunch of people to the no-fly list isn’t a good idea, especially when the government has plenty of power to deal with the perpetrators of this Capitol Hill invasion without deciding they’re no longer allowed to board airplanes. As Rep. Thompson says, perpetrators should be held accountable. There are plenty of laws on the books — and one recent executive order — that will help federal prosecutors achieve this goal. Banning perps from flying doesn’t change anything about the prosecutorial matrix.
And if someone can be identified and added to a no-fly list, chances are they can be identified, arrested, and prosecuted. So the watchlist is just punitive damage with almost zero recourse. Let the law take its course. Leave the no-fly list out of it. If airlines want to refuse to serve suspects facing prosecution for the Capitol raid, they can do so. The government doesn’t need to be involved. Federal agencies can BOLO suspects without putting them on a watchlist that severely curtails their ability to travel. And that’s all it should do at this point, since we’re supposed to presume innocence before determining guilt.