AMERICA’S TERROR LISTS
Two events in the past two weeks have brought to light problems that exist with America’s current designation of states and individuals as supporters of terror, or terrorists. The first was the removal of North Korea from the state sponsors of terror list, the second being the removal of Nelson Mandela (and other ANC members) from the terror watch-list.
The state sponsors of terror list, is a rather exclusive club: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, (soon to be removed): Sudan and Syria. Libya and Iraq both left the club in the past few years. Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam, and Libya after the country gave up its nuclear program. With their support of Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups of their ilk, it is possible to see why Iran, and Syria are on the list. But Cuba and North Korea baffle the mind, the “country reports” on the State Departments website are remarkable for the paucity of information on North Korean and Cuban sponsorship of terror. Cuba’s report is mainly a recitation of things that Cuba hasn’t done to aid the U.S. in the war against terror, and the North Korean report begins with: “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987.”
According the State Departments definition of a state sponsor of terror: “State sponsors of terrorism provide critical support to non-state terrorist groups. Without state sponsors, terrorist groups would have much more difficulty obtaining the funds, weapons, materials, and secure areas they require to plan and conduct operations. Most worrisome is that some of these countries also have the capability to manufacture WMD and other destabilizing technologies that can get into the hands of terrorists. The United States will continue to insist that these countries end the support they give to terrorist groups.” Cuba does not belong in this list, and the ease with which Libya and North Korea were able to get off it (after acquiescing to U.S. demands in unrelated matters) shows that the list has little to do with states that actually sponsor terror.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union – nearly 1 million names, of individuals who are considered by the various government organs to be potential terrorists. Since the 1970’s the African National Congress (ANC) and its leaders – most notably Nelson Mandela – have been part of this list (at the urging of the then Apartheid government). And have been required to get special waivers in order to travel in to the U.S. What is most embarrassing about this situation is that, even after the Apartheid government removed the ANC’s designation as a terrorist organization in 1990, and the ANC took the reigns of power in South Africa, the U.S. still had the ANC under its terror list. If this most visible of icons can – years after being the legitimate leader of another nation – continue to be on that list, what about Tom, Dick and Hussein, who were illegitimately on the list to begin with, continue to be on the list, are constantly harassed by U.S. authorities, but have no advocates in high places to rectify the “bureaucratic snafu” (as Senator Judd Gregg described the Mandela situation) that kept them on the list?
It is great that Mandela and the ANC will no longer have to go through extra hurdles to get in to the U.S. But one cannot help but commiserate with those on the list, who may have never done anything, but have no powerful advocates to get them of the list. As the ACLU puts it:
- They ensnare many innocent travelers as suspected terrorists, and
- Because they waste screeners' time and divert their energies from looking for true terrorists.”
The terror lists need to be particular, constantly reviewed and updated, as well as, reflective of reality, not politics.