December 11 2005, 3:30 PM
The Denver Post has a riveting account of Colorado lawyer Kiki Martinez' brush with the FBI's terror watch list. Stopped for a speeding violation while driving with his wife in Illinois, he was held for more than three hours, subjected to a search of his car by a drug sniffing dog and questioned by counter-terror officials. It used to be that Americans could verify information about themselves that is contained in government files by filing a Freedom of Information Act request.
Last week, FBI lawyers declared terrorist-screening records exempt from Privacy Act requirements. The privacy law normally lets Americans review their own records and correct wrong information, find out who has records, and limits records to information deemed necessary and relevant.Kiki Martinez is no stranger to the overbearing criminal justice system.
In 1973, a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of sending letter bombs to Denver police prompted him to flee the country. Border guards caught him in 1980 trying to re-enter from Mexico. Courts cleared him of all charges.Today's article is an important one for everyone to read. It shows what can happen when the awesome power of the federal government is brought down to bear upon an individual. We need checks and balances in government and a system by which aggrieved citizens can seek redress. Prohibiting them from obtaining information that led to an injustice is not the way.