The Obama administration has tapped Nawar Shora, legal director of the Arab-American Anti-Defamation Committee (ADC), to serve as a senior adviser for the TSA’s office of civil rights and civil liberties.
The ADC is, among other things, virulently anti-Israel. During the 2006 war in Lebanon, it filed a lawsuit claiming that the U.S. government failed to fulfill its obligation to protect US citizens “under attack” in Lebanon. The lawsuit sought to compel U.S. officials to request a cease fire and to stop all U.S. military support to Israel during the evacuation of US citizens from Lebanon.
Fortunately, TSA doesn’t make foreign policy and the Obama administration’s policy towards Israel can’t much worse in any case. But TSA is involved in protecting the U.S. from attack, and the ADC has taken plenty of positions that bear on this matter.
For example, it has been a fierce critic of the Patriot Act since day one. And ADC failed Scott’s “Al Arian test” when it claimed that the indictment of Professor Sami Al Arian was “a political witch-hunt, a vendetta, and a kind of very, very ugly post-9/11 McCarthyism.” Al Arian eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to help the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a specially designated terrorist organization.
The Washington Post, in what I would describe as a celebratory article, is very clear about what Shora’s role will be at TSA. It states (under his picture in an article appearing today) that Shora “is used to fighting for the civil rights of Muslims and Arabs, but now he will do so as a federal government official.” Shora is equally clear, saying “it is about time I cross over to the government and start working within the system.”
But TSA is not a civil rights organization; it is (or should be) an organization dedicated to promoting safety and thwarting terrorism. Shora’s appointment is more evidence that TSA is not sufficiently dedicated to that purpose. Shora’s mission in life is not promoting safety and thwarting terrorism; it is promoting the interests of Arab-Americans by, for example, making sure they are treated the same way other Americans are.
Unfortunately, the two interests are not always consistent. I would argue that they were not consistent, for example, at Fort Hood when it came to dealing with the Arab-American officer who murdered Americans. Lives were lost because we were overly solicitous of that Arab-Americans civil rights, as conceived by ADC. Lives might well be lost to the extent we similarly are overly solicitous of the civil rights of Arab-American airline passengers.
We will need to keep a close eye on the Obama administration TSA.
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