The Christie Chronicles: Due process be damned

Chris ChristieIf you live in New Jersey and are named Robert Johnson, Kevin Johnson, James Rogers, or Mary Smith then I have bad news for you.  Governor Chris Christie just signed a bill making you a second class citizen.

“Are you kidding me?”

No I am not.  With a stroke of the pen, Governor Christie has stripped away the constitutional rights of thousands of New Jersey residents with no due process whatsoever.

“How did he do that?”

Among the 10 gun control bills that the New Jersey governor signed on August 8th was Assembly Bill 3687.  This bill prohibits all those whose name appears in the Terrorist Screening Database, known colloquially as the ‘Terrorist Watch List’ from obtaining firearms identification cards or permits to purchase a handgun.

“So what is wrong with that?  Aren’t we talking about terrorists here?”

Well … no … not really.  In reality, we are talking about a bloated database that often contains no identifying information other than a name.  And if your name has ever been used by a suspicious person as an alias, such as happened to Senator Ted Kennedy, then you are out of luck.  No constitutional rights for you!

“How many people are affected by this?”

Well …  We don’t know exactly since the list is secret and you are not allowed to know that you are on it.  But we do know that all of the names I mentioned above (and many other common names) are either on, or have been on, the Terrorist Watch List.

We also know that the government considers the cost to those innocent people to be an acceptable cost.  Donna Bucella, who ran the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center from its inception in 2003 until her departure in 2007, was quoted as saying that “It’s a price society and anyone named Robert Johnson has to pay for security.

When pressed on the point, she stated emphatically that the name “Robert Johnson will never get off the list

“Ok.  But just how big is the entire ‘Watchlist’?”

The Terrorist Watch List has expanded exponentially from the 16 persons who were prohibited from flying on September 11, 2001.  While the exact size of the Terrorist Watch List is unknown due to its classified nature, in March of 2008 the Department of Justice (DOJ) Audit Division released a report stating that, at that time, the Terrorist Watch List contained over 1.1 million names and a 2007 report from the DOJ Audit Division noted that the list was growing at a rate of over 20,000 names per month.

If we extrapolate that through 2013, we are looking at a list that encompasses well over 2 million names!

“How accurate is the list?”

The 2007 DOJ Audit Report also included the terrifying fact that a full 45% of records were incomplete or inaccurate at that time. It included this warning from Inspector General Glenn Fine: “[I]naccurate, incomplete, and obsolete watchlist information increases the chances of innocent persons being … misidentified as a watchlist identity.

We also know that an awful lot of innocent people have been caught up in the Terrorist Watch List since its inception.  This list includes Senators, Congressmen, airline pilots, federal law enforcement agents, and children.

The true absurdity of the situation is illustrated by the fact that a 5-year-old boy (now 13) named James Robinson was swept up in the wide net cast by the Terrorist Watch List.  When asked by CNN in 2008 if he was a terrorist, young James replied sadly “I don’t know.

He may not be a terrorist … but now he is a second class citizen as far as New Jersey is concerned.

Other who might want to consider avoiding a move to New Jersey include:

  • Civil rights hero and Georgia Congressman John Lewis,
  • Clinton Administration United States Attorney James Robinson,
  • Rep Don Young Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
  • Singer-songwriter Cat Stevens,
  • Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, and
  • CNN reporter Drew Griffin

“Does the government acknowledge the flaws in the ‘Watch List’?”

Yes.  Where flying is concerned, the federal government implemented a redress process to allow those who are on the list to proactively take steps to minimize the impact on their ability to purchase airline tickets.

However, the New Jersey bill does not provide such any such option.  It simply denies the right to own firearms to “any person named on the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist maintained by [the] Terrorist Screening Center administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Does this bill do anything at all to enhance public safety?”

No.  In fact, it negates one of the touted benefits of the Terrorist Watch List.  As Chief District Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. noted in the case of Shearson v. Holder, “The Government does not reveal whether or not an individual is on a watchlist because disclosing this information would undermine the purpose of terrorist watchlists, which is to provide the Government with information about security threats without alerting security threats of the Government’s knowledge.

“Do those who end up on the list get any due process at all?”

No.  None at all.  They receive no notice of their placement on the list, no opportunity to present evidence, no chance to appeal.  As Senator Susan Collins of Maine noted, “The evidence used to compile the watch list is often fragmentary and can be of varying degrees of credibility. It is not, in other words, the equivalent of a criminal history report.

And yet Governor Christie has decided that inclusion on this secret government list is sufficient to deny the citizens of his state one of their fundamental rights.

“Did Governor Christie know what he was doing to all those people?”

Don’t think for one minute that Governor Christie doesn’t understand the implications of what he did.  In a signing statement, he commented that “As a former federal prosecutor, I understand the obligation of government to ensure the safety and security of its people … [however] … I urge Congress to take steps to ensure that law-abiding American citizens are never swept into these databases.

Good luck with that.  After having to call the Secretary of Homeland Security to resolve his months-long ordeal, Senator Ted Kennedy noted that If they have that kind of difficulty with a member of Congress, how in the world are average Americans, who are … caught up in this thing … going to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?

The answer is “They are not!”  Governor Christie knew exactly what he was doing.  He was catering to the anti-gun crowd and ignoring the fact that, in America, we consider people innocent until proven guilty.

“What can we do about this?”

I am glad you asked.  Governor Christie has clear aspirations for higher office and I suspect that he will be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. When that comes to pass, remember that he supported depriving American citizens of a fundamental right based upon nothing more than their presence upon a secret government list.

Does that sound like a man you would want in the White House?

© 2013, John Pierce. All rights reserved.


About John Pierce

Monachus Lex is written by Virginia attorney John Pierce. John is a life-long gun rights advocate, an NRA certified instructor and co-founder of the nationwide gun rights group OpenCarry.org.

He has an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems, an MBA from George Mason University and is a 2012 Honors Graduate of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN.

Professionally, John is a member of the American Bar Association Second Amendment Civil Rights Litigation Subcommittee and his writings have been published by the ABA Civil Rights Litigation Committee and the ABA Minority Trial Lawyer Committee.

In addition, his open carry advocacy has been featured on Nightline and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
This entry was posted in Abuse of Power, Chris Christie, Due Process, General Civil Rights, New Jersey, Watchlists. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Christie Chronicles: Due process be damned

  1. John says:

    The terrorists have won; they have our government abusing our rights in the name of “protecting us.” Al Queda has won, they have accomplished more than every war America has ever fought.

    Pray for the Republic, because it looks like prayer is all we have left.

    • Diamondback says:

      No, no, no.

      We still have our guns and of us stockpiled tens of thousands of rounds each BEFORE the gov’t started buying up ammo to restrict supplies. My stockpile was complete before the end of 2009 for instance.

      Even though we still have our guns, they’re no use to us because we lack the courage to use them unlike the Egyptians, Libyans and Syrians who use rocks if that’s all they have. See, courage is the key. The weapon/s used are secondary to the requirement of courage.

      • Diamondback says:

        Correction: Should read, “… many of us stockpiled …”

        Sorry, my thumb must’ve grazed the touchpad and erased “many”.

        FTI of the grammer police.

      • jugatsu says:

        I hope you’re posting via Tor, or at least some other anonymizing process.

    • jugatsu says:

      The Republican and Democratic parties would not have enacted un-constitutional legislation had they not already been predisposed to do so; they only use the “terrorist” activities as an excuse to pass the laws they wanted to pass anyway. The fascist neo-con Republicans and Democrats use any excuse they can find to pass such laws, they’re the real winners, and we are the real losers. We won’t get our freedoms and this country back without bloodshed – mark my words – and the main stream media will paint the true freedom fighters of our day (hopefully our day), the ones willing to fight to the death in the only war worth while since the Second World War, to give us and their children their Liberties and right to pride in being an American back as lunatics, doomsday preppers gone wild, white separatists, conspiracy nut jobs, etc., etc., etc. Both sides, Dem and Rep, are ginning up hatred and mistrust between the classes and the races, hoping something will break and new and more intrusive and abusive laws can then be enacted “in the wake of “.

  2. Kurt Hofmann says:

    When pressed on the point, she stated emphatically that the name “Robert Johnson will never get off the list”

    She must really hate Crossroads.

    Good article, John.

    • Tony Heaton says:

      I was thinking the same thing when I read the article. I guess because Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil, all future Robert Johnsons must pay 😉

      • Kurt Hofmann says:

        Say–I think you’re onto something. That’s probably the next big push from the “gun control” crowd. Close the “namesake-has-been-sold-to-the-devil loophole.”

  3. Rob Morse says:

    Good article. I posted on facebook and will link to it later today.

  4. Alan W. Rose says:

    I know Robert Johnson. In fact he is a great friend. He is not a terrorist. But given the current state of affairs, why shouldn’t he be?

  5. dan says:

    not NO but…HELL NO…he is what is wrong with this country…Screw him and all like him….imho

  6. Mark says:

    all those unjustly denied a pistol permit on this basis should immediately join a class-action lawsuit. A pending violation of civil rights case is the last thing Christie will want dangling over his head in 2016.

  7. Don in Virginia says:

    Just using the white pages the number is north of 220 with those 4 names

  8. Diamondback says:

    I’d like to read up on the jurisprudence thus far in this matter. Anyone have references to binding court cases.

    It doesn’t seem to me like this holds up under constitutional scrutiny in anyway.

    How are the courts justifying this legitimately.

    Thanks.

    • John Pierce says:

      See the opinion in Shearson v. Holder at http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/13a0205p-06.pdf

      It will make you cry. I will quote from the final paragraph … “Shearson asks this Court to find in her favor because, she claims, the injury to her outweighs the documents’ [Terrorist Watch List] utility to the government. We refuse to entertain this argument.”

      • Greg Moore says:

        If you read the whole opinion you will see that said defendant, Shearson, is/was employed, at the time, by CAIR. As far as I’m concerned any and all people who are affiliated with CAIR deserve this “special” treatment since I’m concerned about their their true aganda.
        ‘neff said.

  9. Ceefour says:

    This piece of stupid opens up grounds for a class action lawsuit and,if everyone involved throws in a few dollars,they can get the best attorney(s) out there. It may take a while before everyone on The List knows they are on the list but when the Word gets out people in California will hear the shouts of rage . I don’t know if yall realize it,People of NJ, but that guy6 you have as a governor is NOT YOUR FRIEND!!!

  10. Robert Johnson says:

    Well, looks like I’m screwed even if I do live in Kansas.
    Guess I’m a terrorist.

  11. jugatsu says:

    You can blame women’s right to vote for the sorry state we’re in today; as well as their demands to become full working class citizens – the broader income tax base with more working women was far too appetizing for the tax-and-spenders to pass up. And shoving kids into fascist-socialist indoctrination facilities, otherwise known as “the public school system”, and children’s television programming, brainwashing the next generations of brain-dead fascist-socialists, was an incredible added bonus with both parents working and too worn out to care or worry about what is being pumped into their children’s heads.

  12. Lee Anderson says:

    To blame women for the sorry state of affairs we’re in because they wanted to vote and work, makes you a special live under a rock kind of stupid, and in the words of Ron White – “You just can’t fix stupid.”

    So here’s your sign….!

  13. Tumbleweed says:

    Christie is not Presidential material! He doesn’t understand what “shall not be infringed” means!

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