Trey Gowdy

The San Bernardino terror attack on Dec. 2 has caused gun-control activists to go into hyperdrive. President Obama and his administration have now latched on to using terror watch lists — those same lists once derided by his supporters — to strip Americans of constitutionally-protected rights. Yours truly and others have already mentioned just how dangerous of an idea that is, but it was perfectly illuminated Thursday during a House Oversight Committee hearing.

In one corner we have Kelli Burriesci, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Screening Coordination, Office of Policy of the United States Department of Homeland Security. (Quite a mouthful of a title there, so one would hope she would know her stuff…)

In another corner we have South Carolina Rep. Try Gowdy.

Here is how it all unfolded:

Trey Gowdy: Let me ask you a question about the terrorism list. What process is afforded a U.S. citizen — not someone who overstayed a visa, not someone who crossed a border without permission — but an American citizen?  What process is currently afforded an American citizen before they go on that list?

DHS: I’m sorry, there is not a process afforded the citizen prior to getting on the list. There is a process should someone feel they are and unduly placed on the list.

Gowdy: Yes there is. And when I say ‘process,’ I’m actually using half of the term due process, which is a phrase we find in the Constitution — that you cannot deprive people of certain things without due process.

So I understand Mister Goode’s idea, which is wait until you’re right has been taken from you and then you can petition the government to get it back. I understand that that’s his idea. My question is can you name another constitutional right that we have that is chilled until you find out it’s chilled, and then you have to petition the government to get it back? Is that true of the First Amendment?

DHS: Sir, there are strict criteria before any gets put on the list.

Trey Gowdy:That’s not my question ma’am. That is not my question. My question is what process is afforded a United States citizen before that person’s constitutional right is infringed? He’s fine when do it with the Second Amendment. My question is, ‘How about the First?’ How about we not let them set up a website or Google account? How about we not let him join a church until until they can petition the government to get off the list. How about not get a lawyer? How about the Sixth Amendment?

How about you can’t get a lawyer until you petition the government to get off the list? Or my favorite — how about the Eighth amendment? We’re going to subject you to cruel and unusual punishment until you petitioned the government to get off the list. Is there another constitutional right that we treat the same way for American citizens that we do the Second Amendment? Can you think of one? **pause** Can you think of one?

DHS:I don’t have an answer for you, sir.

She. Doesn’t. Have. An. Answer.

Burriesci

How is it possible for someone at the Department of Homeland Security, who is advocating on behalf of stripping American citizens of constitutionally-protected rights, to not have an answer to those questions?

As Rep. Gowdy points out, the Obama administration’s own logic dictates that if the Second Amendment can be stripped without due process, then there is no reason why any other rights can’t be taken as well.

Listen to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s comments on the issue Friday, and then ask yourself how comfortable you are with giving the federal government a blank check to do whatever it wants under the guise of national security.

Mr Earnest said:

“I think it’s common sense, the president believes it’s common sense and it is in our national security interest to prevent those who are deemed by the government ‘too dangerous to board an airplane’ that we should pass a law that prevents those people from purchasing a gun — until such time as they can resolve the concerns the government has about their  potential links to terrorism. There is a process administered by the Department of Homeland Security for those concerns to be considered and resolved. When it comes to gun safety, that seems like a pretty common sense step.

In response to Sen. Rubio, I guess I would simply say: Is he suggesting we should wait until someone who is on the no-fly list walks into a gun[store], purchases a firearm and kills a whole bunch of Americans before we pass a law preventing it? I don’t think that passes the common sense test either.”

To recap:

  • The Department of Homeland Security does not know how many of your constitutional rights can be stripped without due process.
  • President Obama wants to give women like Kelli “I don’t have an answer for you, sir” Burriesci the ability to deny you constitutionally-protected rights (The Second Amendment…for now.)
  • The Department of Homeland Security officials will “consider” not infringing upon your constitutionally-protected rights if you go through its petition process and it feels like changing its mind.

In the same press briefing where Josh Earnest created a giant Straw Man argument for Sen. Rubio, the White House Press Secretary admitted that none of the recent mass shooters were on the no-fly list. He also stammered and stuttered when a reporter pointed out that none of the current gun-control measures being talked about would have prevented the mass shootings in the first place.

Right now the federal government is asking for power that its own officials don’t know how to justify because they know that what they want to do is unconstitutional.

Whether you are a gun owner or not, it should terrify you that the same argument used in favor of stripping Americans of Second Amendment rights without due process can be applied to any right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. 

If you cannot see the danger this poses to future generations of Americans, then I weep for your children.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

11 comments

  1. Welcome to Wonderland. “Sentence first, verdict after.”

    Jihadists murder unarmed victims in a designated gun-free zone, in a state that has strict gun control laws. One of the killers returned to the US after visiting the Middle East. Another was from the Middle East, and obtained a visa after passing through the US immigration screening process. Neither of them was ever on the No-Fly List, or on any anti-terrorist watch list.

    A neighbor had noticed their suspicious behavior, but he did not report it to the police or the FBI, because he was afraid of being called a racist or an Islamophobe.

    Obama’s response:

    1.Call for more gun laws. (Keep doing the same thing over and over and hope for better results next time.) Specifically, demand a law to prohibit gun sales to people on the No-Fly List. A list that never included Tashfeen Malik or Syed Farook. (It might not include any terrorists, considering that the FBI and Homeland Security have been barred from spying on mosques and Muslim organizations since 2011.) A list that the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the ACLU all denounced for its lack of objective criteria, and for its disregard for due process. (Oh, but that was when Bush was president. Of course, it’s OK when Obama does it.)

    2. Increase Muslim immigration, while turning away non-Muslim refugees. Hurl epithets (racist, Islamophobe, etc.) at anyone who suggests temporarily suspending or limiting immigration until improved vetting procedures are in place. Even while the administration’s own officials admit that we can’t adequately vet immigrants with the procedures we have now.

    3. The US Attorney General promises to “take action” against “hate speech” that has the “potential to raise the mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric.”

    Never mind Wonderland. Welcome to Bizarro World.

    Does admitting unvetted immigrants (who share the same basic ideology as the terrorists) pass the “common sense test”?

    Obama’s No-Fly proposal would not have prevented the San Bernardino massacre. Trump’s proposal would have.

    1. “Welcome to Wonderland. “Sentence first, verdict after.'”

      Exactly. Trey Gowdy hit the nail on the head. Using the administration’s argument, a man on the no-fly list should be prohibited from online communications until he goes through a lengthy “process” with DHS and its “concerns” are “considered.”

      If you wanted to make a political opponent’s life a living hell, put them on the brand new No Fly list, which is capable of stripping you any number of constitutionally-protected rights. And then when you dig yourself out from a year or two of red tape and finally clear your name, the best you’ll get is an, “Oops. Sorry. It must have been an administrative error. We’ll have to work on doing better in the future.”

      Political appointees at the IRS have no problem abusing their power. Given the right situation, DHS appointees would do the same under a petty and corrupt administration.

  2. Hey, been a while since I’ve posted here. School has kept me busy!

    I’m a big proponent for our 2nd amendment, so this kind of thing really drives me up the wall. As gun advocate Colion Noir once said, gun control is about control. It has nothing to do with actually making the country safer. When I hear rhetoric such as, “think of the children” or “give up your rights for the greater good,” red flags immediately go off in my head. Those words have been thrown around a time or two throughout history. I think this no fly list fiasco is indicative of an increasingly desperate gun control movement. The majority of Americans don’t want more gun control, as evidenced by polls and the record number of gun sales in recent years. It seems like the gun control crowd and our president can’t stand that, so now we have this proposal of throwing due process to the wind and depriving people of their rights, and notoriously anti-gun publications like the New York Times are calling for confiscation. Hopefully this proposal will go down in flames like it most definitely should.

    1. The sad thing is, it looks like President Obama is going to try and circumvent the legislative process by once again using “executive orders” to do what his supporters can’t accomplish legislatively. I laugh every time I hear things like “90%” of Americans want more gun control. If that were true, then you’d have it. Name me a politician who would look at 90% of his own constituents tell him to do “x” and then he does “y.” It’s not going to happen, or if it does then the guy isn’t going to last long in office.

      The Hill reported Dec. 10.

      The White House is finalizing a new executive action that would expand background checks on gun purchases, according to one of President Obama’s top aides.

      Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Wednesday the president has asked his team to send him a completed plan “in short order,” according to The Associated Press. She spoke at a vigil for victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 28 dead.

      White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday refused to elaborate on the timeline to issue the unilateral proposals.

      Executive orders are supposed to be do when there are legislative grey areas and the president essentially just says, “This is how I think you should go about dealing with the problem.” They’re not supposed make de facto laws because the president can’t get a bill to his desk that he likes.

  3. That is absolutely chilling. We have been whittling away at due process for a number of years now and the fact that there are people within our government who just don’t get it, is terrifying. I’ve spoken to many people on the internet like that and it makes me despair for the future of our entire country. This stuff isn’t rocket science, it’s more like 7th grade civics class.

    1. My guess is that if you asked 10 random high school graduates some basic civics questions, the responses would be rather depressing. People don’t realize that you only have to teach one generation of kids really screwy things to do serious damage to civil society… People make fun of home schooling, but these days I find it hard to argue with anyone who says they need to take matters into their own hands. The schools often pump the kids’ heads up wit idiocy.

      And yes, before anyone asks, I went to public school. I graduated high school in 1997. It seems the education system went off the deep end not too many years after that.

    2. We got to homeschool each of our kids for a couple of years and it was a really good experience. We went right into US history, civics, the Constitution. They had honestly learned absolutely nothing in school, in fact what little they had learned was totally wrong.

    1. Adding gang violence would have definitely altered the narrative they were going far. Haha! One would think they would stop doing stuff like that considering the internet exists and guys like you will be blogging on it. I guess not. Sigh… This is why people don’t trust the media.

  4. Ms. Burriesci also had “no answer” and “no information” when Rep. Jim Jordan asked about the number of immigrants who (like Tashfeen Malik) entered the US in recent years, the number of American citizens who (like Syed Farook) returned to the US after visiting the Middle East, or the number of visa overstays.

    The administration and its cheerleaders (aka the media) are chanting the “NRA, NRA, NRA” mantra to divert attention from the incompetence, dhimmitude, and political correctness that have been enabling crime and terrorism for years.

  5. You just know that the Obama administration studied that No-Fly List “line by line” in the hopes that Syed and his wife were on it. Perhaps that’s why it took days for that Oval Office address to happen. You also know that if the two were on the list that we would’ve heard about it by now. Gee, perhaps Obama can get those intelligence officials that have been altering ISIS reports for years to retroactively put husband and wife on the list.

    Remember in 2003 when Democrats were hectoring about dissent being the highest form of patriotism and accusing anyone who disagreed with them of trying to stifle their free speech? Yeesh, it’s always one extreme or the other with the Far Left; never a middle ground. Hopefully a Republican will win the election next year. Maybe then Democrats will rediscover the joys of Constitutional rights and express concern about the executive branch trying to strip people of their rights.

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