Yesterday Congressman Cliff Stearns’ (R-Fl) amendment to the 9/11 first responders aid bill went into effect. What is this amendment you ask? One that has the gall to question the patriotism of the heroes of that terrible day:
“(5) DISQUALIFICATION OF INDIVIDUALS ON TERRORIST WATCH LIST.-No individual who is on the terrorist watch list maintained by the Department of Homeland Security shall qualify as an eligible WTC responder. Before enrolling any individual as a WTC responder in the WTC Program under paragraph (3), the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall determine whether the individual is on such a list.”
It is exactly what it says it is. To add insult to injury the amendment was added to the bill without dissent with this odious provision going into effect yesterday. There are no words that can truly describe the depth of the disrespect shown by both parties in Congress.
With fears of Muslim takeover fanned by the Cordoba House controversy and Peter King’s radicalization circus Congress has, in the name of “pragmatic politics” acquiesced to the worst in us. Saying any group of people, including the greatest heroes of the past decade, can be investigated as terrorists by Congressional fiat attacks the foundations of our criminal justice system. Ever since the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1789 one of the bedrock principals of our legal system is probable cause. Searches, arrests, and indictments cannot be obtained for any charge without first proving there is a very solid, justifiable reason to be poking around in the private lives of American citizens. With a simple voice vote Congress has swept aside any need for probable cause declaring everyone who worked at Ground Zero in the days and weeks following 9/11 is now a suspect for terrorism. As far as our elected representatives are concerned “pragmatic” politics trumps the rights of American heroes.
What is worse are the chilling implications of this act. When the best among us, the heroes who rose to the call, can be declared terror suspects then any one can be put under the same microscope for no better reason than “national security” or “practical politics.” If the Ground Zero workers can be thrown on the pyre of a new witch hunt on Congressional whim then what is stopping legislators from tossing others into the flames in a fit of political hysteria?
CORRECTION: The provision was included in the bill passed last year. The amendment’s effects as per the Huffington Post went into effect yesterday which they learned through an unnamed source.
Also published at Ryan’s Desk