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Does the hypocrisy ever stop? Parties switch places on national security over gun rights...


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A few years ago Democrats were (correctly) pointing out personal liberty problems with the "terrorist watch list". In particular, members of the Bush administration placed AMISH residents on the terrorist watch list because of anti-war sentiment. Republicans were all for cracking down on the privacy rights of those placed on the watch list and to otherwise deny that they deserved basic Constitutional protections.

Now Mayor Bloomberg wants to prevent those on the terrorist watch list from buying firearms and the Democrats have summarily flip-flopped, wanting to crack down on the Second Amendment rights of those on the watch list. Republicans, for their part, have a new found respect for the rights of people merely suspected of some ambiguous connection to terrorism.

Personally, I think Democrats were correct the first time and that Republicans are correct now. But it's fun watching both sides spin themselves into a giant hypocritical pretzel.

Dan Froomkin

froomkin@huffingtonpost.com | HuffPost Reporting

Bloomberg 'Terror Gap' Argument Shot Down By Pro-Gun GOP Senators

First Posted: 05- 5-10 02:31 PM | Updated: 05- 5-10 02:57 PM

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's appeal to what he called "common sense" at a congressional hearing Wednesday morning failed to sway two Republican senators who said that giving the government the ability to block the purchase of guns by suspected terrorists would undermine the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.

"Shouldn't FBI agents have the authority to block sales of guns and explosives to those on the terror watchlists -- and deemed too dangerous to fly? I actually believe that they should," Bloomberg told senators. Federal law currently only allows the government to block guns sales for a very limited number of reasons, and being on that list is not one of them. (For more background, see Tuesday's article on the subject.)

"This common-sense legislation is not anti-gun -- it's anti-terrorist," chimed in Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the sponsor of a bill that would close what Bloomberg has called a "terror gap."

But GOP Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina wouldn't go along.

Admitting that "at first blush" the bill "seems to be an obvious step that we should take," Collins said that many people on the FBI's watchlist don't belong there. "None of us wants a terrorist to be able to purchase a gun, but neither should we want to infringe upon a Constitutional right of law-abiding Americans," she said.

Graham described the bill as an instrument of those who would ban guns altogether. "We're talking about a constitutional right here," he said, explaining that he could not support a bill that would force "innocent Americans" to "pay the cost of going to court to get their gun rights back."

Graham wasn't nearly as concerned about rights when he launched into a disquisition on the treatment of American citizens accused of terrorism. "I am all into national security," he said. "I want them to stop reading these guys Miranda rights."

Story continues below

Like many of his fellow Republicans, Graham assailed the administration for respecting the constitutional rights of suspected terrorists, suggesting instead that they should be treated like enemies on the battlefield.

"Even if you're an American citizen helping the enemy, you should be seen as a potential enemy," he said, "not as someone who committed a crime in New York."

After the hearing, Bloomberg told reporters he had no problem with federal investigators reading Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in this weekend's Times Square bomb plot, his Miranda rights, saying that "our democracy is strong enough" for that.

As for the Second Amendment concerns, Bloomberg said in his testimony: "Our founding fathers did not write the Second Amendment to empower people who wanted to terrorize a free state; they wrote it to protect people who could defend 'the security of a free state.' Today, the security of our free state is being tested by terrorists."

A new Government Accountability Office report out today disclosed that from February 2004 through February 2010, individuals on the terrorist watchlist were involved in firearm or explosives background checks 1,228 times. Of those, 1,119, or 91 percent, were allowed to proceed because there were no legally disqualifying factors.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Shahzad had purchased a gun in Connecticut in March, shortly after returning from a trip to Pakistan. Officials found a 9mm pistol and ammunition in Shahzad's car. Shahzad was not put on the terror watchlist until Monday, the day before he was captured.

"It appears March is when he decided to put this plan in motion," Kelly said, noting that for a terror suspect to buy a gun "may well be an indicator of putting something catastrophic in motion."

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Dan Froomkin is senior Washington correspondent for the Huffington Post. You can send him an e-mail, bookmark his page; subscribe to RSS feed, follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and/or become a fan and get e-mail alerts when he writes.

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I am beginning, no wait, I am far along the path to really disliking both political parties. It is getting to be a case of which is going to harm people the least, rather than help the most.

If there was a way to ensure that those on the list are really deserving to be on the list, then I could tolerate the restriction, but otherwise no way in heck.

As far as Miranda rights go, if you are in another country and caught by military forces, then you don't deserve Miranda rights, you only get basic human rights. IF you are caught in the USA then you get them, with full protection of the Constitution.

Why you should have to read Constitutional rights to someone in Iraq is silly. If Iraq has rules, then you should have to follow them, as long as they don't infringe on basic human rights(life, health, torture prohibition).

We the people need to start voting out 50+ percent of the incumbents every election and start taking back control of our government, and stop them from thinking,"Oh, I am so special, and know everything, because I am an ELECTED OFFICIAL!!"

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I am beginning, no wait, I am far along the path to really disliking both political parties. It is getting to be a case of which is going to harm people the least, rather than help the most.

If there was a way to ensure that those on the list are really deserving to be on the list, then I could tolerate the restriction, but otherwise no way in heck.

As far as Miranda rights go, if you are in another country and caught by military forces, then you don't deserve Miranda rights, you only get basic human rights. IF you are caught in the USA then you get them, with full protection of the Constitution.

Why you should have to read Constitutional rights to someone in Iraq is silly. If Iraq has rules, then you should have to follow them, as long as they don't infringe on basic human rights(life, health, torture prohibition).

We the people need to start voting out 50+ percent of the incumbents every election and start taking back control of our government, and stop them from thinking,"Oh, I am so special, and know everything, because I am an ELECTED OFFICIAL!!"

On Miranda, it depends on whether they will be tried in the US Justice system. If not then it's not necessary. If they are going to be tried in US Courts, then all of the rights of US citizens apply to them, including Miranda and due process. The problem is with politicians wanting it both ways--treat them as prisoners of war to extract information from them, and turn around and use that information to try them as a criminal in the justice system. One or the other.

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