[Editor’s note: Security expert Rob Douglas shared the following with members of the Self-Reliance Institute. As soon as he did I realized that, even though it’s the type of material that’s normally exclusive to the Self-Reliance Institute, I needed to share it with you as well. –Chris Peterson]
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on September 11, 2001, when you learned that the World Trade Center had been struck by an aircraft?
I certainly do and I’m sure you do as well. It was a life-altering day for many of us in many ways.
At the time, I lived just outside Washington, DC. On 9/11, I was scheduled to give a presentation about identity theft to a group that was meeting just to the north of the Pentagon in the USA Today tower in Arlington, Virginia. Of course, the meeting never took place.
That evening, I co-hosted (along with Doug McKelway, who is now a reporter and anchorman for Fox News) the first of numerous overnight radio broadcasts on WMAL – a news/talk station in Washington, DC – about the unfolding crisis.
Within days, every conference presentation I was scheduled to give across the country in the coming months was cancelled because event organizers believed Americans would be too afraid to fly for the foreseeable future.
Yet, by the following week, I was back on a commercial flight to New Hampshire where I was involved in the investigation of an Internet stalker who’d murdered a promising young woman.
That first post-9/11 flight was memorable for many reasons – we flew just to the west of Manhattan and could see the still-smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center – and proved that travel by aircraft had changed forever.
By Thanksgiving, I had taken dozens of flights across the country as I spoke at a series of closed-door seminars for bankers about identity theft – including a small section about how terrorist cells might be funding themselves inside the U.S. through financial fraud and ID theft.
While taking those flights, it quickly became apparent that the government was fumbling its way through the creation of a series of new screening processes for passengers boarding aircraft. As you may recall, it wasn’t unusual to be physically searched – and to have your luggage searched – three times by the time you boarded your flight.
At one checkpoint inside Boston’s Logan International Airport, where the two flights that struck the World Trade Center originated, a nervous member of the National Guard pointed his rifle at me when a security agent became alarmed at the large amount of electronic equipment in my suitcase showing up on his screen. It was just weeks after 9/11 and I was carrying all of my own projection equipment for a small conference. Easily explained, but it didn’t matter as security personnel were extremely jittery and everyone was viewed as a potential threat.
I had to unpack everything at gunpoint, demonstrate that all my electronic equipment was legitimate by turning each piece on and operating it, and then repack before being escorted and observed as I boarded my flight.
On November 12, barely two months after 9/11, I had just taken my seat on a flight out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport when everyone was ordered off the plane and told to return to the ticket area in the main terminal. We had no idea what was going on and the flight crew wouldn’t tell us anything.
As soon as we deplaned and powered up our cell phones, almost every passenger’s cell phone began ringing. In fact, almost every cell phone on the concourse was ringing. It was our friends and family calling to see if we were OK because another plane had crashed in a New York City neighborhood.
Bottom line: Air travel has never been the same since 9/11.
And it certainly hasn’t been the same for tens of thousands of Americans who’ve been placed on a secret blacklist – the U.S. government’s terrorist watchlist – that has many ramifications, including potentially preventing them from traveling on commercial airlines by placing them on a “No-Fly List.”
Now, for better or worse, the most recent edition of the “guidance” – the rules – for placing individuals on the blacklist have been obtained and released. And, since it’s been released, I think you should know about it so you can read it yourself and decide whether the government has created a reasonable set of rules for determining who might be a terrorist.
The document, known as the “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” can be reviewed by clicking – HERE.
The publication that released the document – the fact that it was released is highly controversial – is called The Intercept.
If you’d like to read The Intercept’s explanation of why they released the document and what they believe the document reveals, please see “The Secret Government Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist.”
The article states at the outset:
“The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
“The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.”
From there, The Intercept goes into great detail about the history of the blacklist and the criteria applied to individuals and groups.
I think you’ll find it to be an interesting read and I highly recommend that you examine the original document. I have mixed feelings about its release. But, since it’s been made public, I think good citizens will want to review it and judge for themselves whether the government is being overzealous in how it determines who is placed on the blacklist.
I’d love to know what you think about this important issue. You can email me at [email protected]
Be safe and secure,
Freedom Writers Publishing
1815 Central Park Dr. #358
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487