I've got to give credit where credit's due. CNN.com has front-paged a story about Erich Scherfen, a pilot who honorably served 13 years in the military protecting America, being placed on Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration's terrorist watchlist, potentially threatening his career as an airline pilot. Why? For the sole reason that he married a Muslim and converted to Islam himself.
Scherfen served in the U.S. military for 13 years, as an Army infantryman in the first Gulf War and then as a helicopter pilot in the National Guard. After receiving an honorable discharge, he was hired as a pilot by Colgan Air Inc., a regional airline operating in the Northeast and Texas.
In April, Colgan informed Scherfen that he was on a government list and would be suspended from his job. He was told he faced termination on September 1 unless he was able to clear his name.
Scherfen is a convert to Islam. His wife emigrated from Pakistan when she was 17 and is now a U.S. citizen. She runs a small business selling books and DVDs about Islam, publications she describes as nonpolitical.
Scherfen and Tareen have both been stopped when traveling and told by security personnel that they are on "a list."
It would be one thing - though still inexcusable - if this was an isolated incident. But things like this are happening all over the country. People's lives are being ruined by the suspicions and the secrecy of the War on Terror - and we're not even getting any safer from terrorism as a result. It's sad that it took such a cut-and-dry incident such as this - where a man is literally losing his livelihood as a direct result of his name being put on a watch list - for the issue to get a fraction of the attention it deserves. But let's thank reporter Jeanne Meserve and CNN for prominently putting it out there... and hope the issue continues to get the attention it needs to affect change.
While you're waiting for your text message, here are a couple of other good recent diaries about the nasty habit that the Homeland Security / TSA secret terrorist watchlist has of damaging innocent people's livelihoods and reputations...