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.