In this column, A1F Daily trains its watchdog eye on The Trace, Michael Bloomberg’s new anti-“gun news” site.
Anti-gun Democrats are trying to force the U.S. Senate to vote on a bill that would bar those placed on the government’s secret No-Fly List (or the broader Terrorist Watchlist) from buying a gun. Passage of this measure, championed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and other leading Democrats, would deny a constitutional right to any U.S. citizens among the estimated 1.1 million names on the watchlist.
The amount of wrong being contemplated here is hard to understate. First of all, names can be added to the list solely at the discretion of the U.S. attorney general, meaning that your rights could be denied simplybecause a political appointee added your name to a secret list.The Obama administration, though obsessed with tracking every single firearm transfer in the U.S., is willing to risk your safety to avoid infringing upon the privacy rights of non-U.S. citizens.
Secondly, this is not a list of terrorists. As the Washington Postreported, National Counterterrorism Center guidelines allow the government to list individuals as representatives of terror organizations “without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations; it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire ‘categories’ of people the government is tracking onto the No-Fly and selectee lists.”
Thirdly, since the smaller No-Fly List contains names, not identities, the error rate is very high. Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch recently revealed that 72 Homeland Security employees are on the list. And the ACLU has sued the government for adding citizens’ names without telling them and for not providing any “reasonable opportunity to get off it.” The late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy was on the list because a prohibited person used the alias “T. Kennedy.” It took his staff three weeks to get him off the list, and he was a U.S. senator! For us mere mortals mistakenly listed, well … individual results may vary, but it took one woman 10 years.
Supporters of this measure, who represent a who’s who of the gun-control faction, purposely refer to the smaller No-Fly List with their slogan, “If you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun.” However, this is blatant attempt at confusing the public; Feinstein’s measure clearly applies to people on the much larger Terrorist Watchlist, who are not barred from flying and whose names are already forwarded to FBI if they apply to buy a firearm. A Feinstein spokesperson explain this misrepresentation by saying, “The No-Fly List is much more relatable to the average person.”
Yet every Democratic presidential candidate is an enthusiastic supporter of this egregious attack on liberty, and anti-gun governors Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and Andrew Cuomo of New York are demanding access to the list (which is classified) in order to unilaterally implement bans in their states.
Incredibly, turning to The Trace for content on this important debate turns up only two features, both of which posit that the debate on the so-called “terror gap” was putting Republicans and gun rights defenders “in a bind.”
Yesterday, ABC News broke a story on a DHS policy that barred agents from screening the social media postings of foreign nationals applying for visas to the United States. A former DHS undersecretary for intelligence reported that, at a heated 2014 meeting chaired by DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and attended by top bureaucrats from the Office of Civil Liberties and the Office of Privacy, “the primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing.”
In other words, DHS hand-wringers prioritized the risk of a public relations dustup regarding the privacy of foreign nationals over the risk those nationals might pose to U.S. citizens. And lest you think this was a colossal blunder by lower-level functionaries, be aware that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, fearing “a civil liberties backlash and ‘bad public relations,’” refused to overturn the policy in 2014.
This policy of political correctness dashed any hope of red-flagging Tashfeen Malik, one-half of the mass-murdering San Bernardino jihadist couple. When she entered the U.S., Malik had a long history of extensive social media messages about jihad and martyrdom. When President Obama declares that a climate change conference is a slap in the face to ISIS, it’s clear that he has taken his eye off the ball (if it was ever truly on it). Between now and the second Tuesday in November, it’s imperative that we don’t duplicate his mistake.
Confronted with this infuriating failure of intelligence that cost so many innocent lives, State Department spokesperson John Kirby could only stammer awkwardly, “You know, eh, obviously … things went wrong!”
Coincidentally, this official U.S. policy is brought to you by the same administration that has made “universal” background checks a priority in the fight against terrorism. For those of you who are immune to irony, this means the Obama administration, though obsessed with tracking every single firearm transfer in the U.S., is willing to risk your safety to avoid infringing upon the privacy rights of non-U.S. citizens—one of whom killed 14 of us and wounded 21 others.
A search of The Trace for commentary on this egregious breach of national security turns up six features that focus on immaterial matters, such as how a researcher called for an end to the ban on CDC gun violence research and how to tell a mass shooting from gang gunfire. The Trace barely mentioned that the San Bernardino killers passed background checks, and ignored that California’s gun laws are among the most restrictive in the nation. Trace writers and editors are also silent on the DHS screening policy that helped usher Tashfeen Malik into a holiday party in San Bernardino.
We’re at a critical juncture in America. We have important topics to discuss that will be instrumental in our choice of a new president in 2016. When President Obama declares that a climate change conference is a slap in the face to ISIS, it’s clear that he has taken his eye off the ball (if it was ever truly on it). Between now and the second Tuesday in November, it’s imperative that we don’t duplicate his mistake.
When launched with Michael Bloomberg’s money, The Trace appeared to be the pseudo-gun news “third leg” of a political strategy that included political activism (Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Mayors Against Illegal Guns) and faux-scientific research (The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health). However, The Trace’s thin veneer of science is far too transparent to hide its anti-gun agenda, leaving the gun-control barstool wobbly. That The Trace is rarely cited in the ongoing national debate speaks volumes.
Conversely, in just the last few weeks, the Second Amendment has received unprecedented support:
Fact: Black Friday gun sales set yet another national record.
Fact: The Washington Post fact-checker gave Marco Rubio’s claim that no recent mass shootings would have been prevented by gun laws “a rare Geppetto checkmark” for truthfulness.
Fact: Hits on the NRA’s website set new records in the days after the San Bernardino massacre.
Fact: Yesterday, a new Rasmussen poll found that 61 percent of Americans agreed that “The NRA supports gun policies that make all Americans safer.”
As we usher in the coming year, we’ll continue focusing on the critical issues that will define the very future of freedom. We can no longer allow ourselves to be distracted by Bloomberg’s inconsequential gun-ban puppet The Trace.
Between now and Nov. 8, 2016, we have more pressing matters to attend.