Pilot is Victim of Secret Terrorist Watch List

Like many other people who have no connection to terrorism, Erich Scherfen's name appears on Homeland Security's secret terrorist watch list. Scherfen is a pilot and a Gulf War veteran who converted to Islam in 1994. His employer, Colgan Air Inc. (which operates Continental Connection, United Express and US Airways Express), suspended him and threatened to terminate him after the Transportation Security Administration advised Colgan that Scherfen was a "positive match."

Scherfen has no criminal record and no affiliation with any terrorist organization. So why was he being "watched" for terrorist activities? Scherfen believes his conversion to Islam and his marriage to a Pakistani who sells Islamic books was all the evidence Homeland Security needed to view him with suspicion.

Scherfen sued the government last month for violating his right to religious freedom. The response was good news for Scherfen: Colgan has withdrawn its attempt to terminate his employment and is reinstating him as a pilot. Scherfen is nonetheless pressing forward with his lawsuit. He deserves to win it.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Sometimes (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 10:49:51 AM EST
    truth is stranger than fiction. Of course, I'm not surprised that this happened but I am surprised that his employer would treat him this way. Then again, maybe not.

    That's just nuts (none / 0) (#2)
    by blogtopus on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 11:00:49 AM EST
    Now I can understand an investigation by the employer as to why the pilot was placed on the list (and maybe a FOIA request could help), but outright firing before anything else is said is just stupid and asking for trouble.

    Has Obama made any comments about the No-fly list? I'd like to know where he stands on that.

    With a name like Barack Hussein Obama... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Dadler on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 11:15:45 AM EST
    ...chances are pretty good, with the acumen of the government in thse matters, that he'd be on that list, don't you think?  Suffice it to say, it's odd, but politically understandable, why he'd make no mention of the list.  

    We live in twisted times for the mind, indeed.  As we as the rest of the body.


    As I understand it, (none / 0) (#4)
    by sj on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:02:26 PM EST
    the watch list is not available for an FOIA request which is part of what's so insidious.  As of right now, not only is it nearly impossible to to remove one's name from the list, but also to even get confirmation that your name is there to begin with.  

    I don't know about any position Obama may or may not have taken on the no-fly list, but I personally feel that it is an abomination.


    Safety First (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ellis on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:12:09 PM EST
    It's difficult for me to express how much safer I feel knowing the kind of people Homeland Security and TSA have working for them.

    If I didn't know George Bush were running the show (into the ground), I doubt I'd have the courage or confidence to leave my home.

    Erich Scherfen (none / 0) (#6)
    by wasabi on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:36:32 PM EST
    There's another $3M of taxpayers money that will eventually get paid out to Erich Scherfen for violating his civil rights.

    I thought I read recently that there were some new changes made to the  procedures that allowed someone to get their name off the list.  Wasn;t Chertoff spouting off about that?

    This is gonna be fun. (none / 0) (#7)
    by eustiscg on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 01:08:13 PM EST
    I hope Obama has a good AG in mind.  He or she is going to spend months cleaning up this stuff.

    Plus, Biden has left open the possibility of pursuing criminal charges, where warranted, against members of the Bush Administration.  Here's the money quote:

    "If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation," he said, "they will be pursued, not out of vengeance, not out of retribution - out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no one, no attorney general, no president, no one is above the law."

    OT : TChris.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by vml68 on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 01:26:35 PM EST
    Just wanted to know why you deleted my post to Jeralyn on the open thread. What did I say that was wrong or offensive?

    I have no recollection of deleting your post. (none / 0) (#9)
    by TChris on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 06:38:45 PM EST
    Maybe Jeralyn deleted it.  I rarely delete open thread posts in the absence of insults or bad language.

    Thank-you. I appreciate the response. (none / 0) (#10)
    by vml68 on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 06:58:09 PM EST
    I will ask Jeralyn.