You wanna buy a car? Well great, but first prove you're not a terrorist.
So it seems I’m not on the terror watch list. I found that out last week and honestly I’d been curious about that for a while. I’m not a terrorist, but I’m an activist and a journalist which is just about as bad in the eyes of our Big Brother police state. This year Reporters Without Borders press freedom index ranked America the 46th most free country... and that's for the establishment media.
I was worried a bit about the terror watch list because over the course of last year I was detained by the Secret Service, Department of Defense, DHS, and all sorts of local and state police departments. I was also threatened by the TSA, and investigated by the US marshals and FBI... Well yeah, so you get the picture. I’ve never been arrested or charged with any crime. That's because my activism is exercising my civil rights, which again our government sees as akin to terrorism.
I don’t fly since the TSA started fondling people and taking naked scans. I’ve avoided flying because… well I'm an American with human and civil rights thus I would decline to be searched without a warrant. Also I’m transgender and pre-op so I can imagine how the pat down would go. Simply put I doubt I could fly if I wanted to regardless of being on a No Fly Fist or not.
But apparently I’m not on the list. I found this out when I tried to buy a car. I also found out you can’t buy a car at a dealership when you’re on the no “buy” list. That was news to me. According to the Chevy salesman I spoke with, they aren’t allowed to sell to people on the No Fly List because I guess the government contends that TERRORISM SHUT UP.
This all came up while we finalized a sale; the salesman was asking the silly formality questions and just popped out with “you’re not on the No Fly List right?” First of all, no one really knows if they are or aren’t on the list until they try to fly... or buy a Chevy I guess. Secondly, I might be, so I told him maybe and asked why he was asking. The reason he gave was about how the government fears that terrorists might buy and sell cars to launder money. That seems a bit improbable. I’m trying to picture the Al Qaeda craigslist post trying to flip low end Chevys.
The list that the salesperson actually meant was probably the OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN), which is a list of designated people who have a freeze on their credit. The list includes names and aliases of suspected terrorists and narcotics traffickers, etc. The problem is that the list, like the No Fly List, incorrectly includes people and there is no clear way to have one's name removed.
It's an end run around due process and can stop you from getting a job and buying a car or house because it will pop up in any background credit check. “We've decided to hire someone a little less terrorist-y. Thanks for your interest. Please don't ever come back.” Since most prospective employers will have to run a background check, your ability to find work will be damaged. The good news is since you will have trouble finding work, you probably won't be trying to buy a car or home anyhow.
The nice part about the experience was that when I explained my activism to the salesperson he started talking about how the local Framingham police are out of control. A member of the town's now defunct SWAT team killed a man as he lay on the floor in his own home by “accident” by shooting him in the back. We had a neat bonding experience as two thought criminals, and this guy was old enough to be my granddad. The police state is in trouble when the young and the old unite instead of arguing about music.