Colgan pilot grounded by terrorist watchlist

Minuteman

“Dongola”
Pa pilot says he's on watch list, sues to save job
By PETER JACKSON

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A commercial airline pilot and convert to Islam who says his name is on the U.S. government's secret terrorist watch list has fought back, filing a federal lawsuit against the Homeland Security Department and various other federal agencies.

Erich Scherfen says unless his name is removed from the list, he faces losing not only his job but the ability to make a living in his chosen profession.

"My livelihood depends on being off this list," Scherfen told reporters Tuesday after his lawyers filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.

He alleges that the government's actions have violated his and his wife's constitutional rights. The suit seeks a hearing and a decision before he is scheduled to lose his job on Sept. 1.

A New Jersey native, Scherfen, 37, said he believes his name was placed on a watch list because he converted to Islam in 1994 — even though he is a Gulf War combat veteran. Both he and his Pakistan-born wife, who is also a Muslim, said they have no criminal records or ties to terrorists.

In their lawsuit, the couple said they have been repeatedly subjected to searches, questioning and detention at airports and border crossings since 2006. Ticket agents and others have made vague references to their names being on lists, but there was no clear explanation for the extra scrutiny.

Scherfen said he learned that he was a "positive match" on a list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration in April, when his employer, Colgan Air Inc., suspended him for that reason. The Virginia-based regional carrier continued to pay him for the first two weeks of his suspension, but he is currently on unpaid leave and expects to lose his job if his name is not taken off the list by the end of this month.

Scherfen had worked for the airline for about a year when he was suspended, a Colgan spokesman confirmed.

The couple said their attempts to resolve the situation through the government have been unsuccessful.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Ann Davis said the TSA gets watch lists from the FBI and requires airlines to cross-check the lists before issuing passengers boarding passes.

While declining comment on the lawsuit, Davis said "religious and political affiliation does not impact whether an individual is placed" on a list.

The Justice Department declined comment on the lawsuit and said in a statement that the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, "for both national security and personal privacy reasons," does not confirm or deny the existence of any name on the watch lists that it maintains.

"We have a problem when a law-abiding combat veteran is about to lose his job because the government has placed him on a terrorist watch list, but refuses to tell him why," said Harrisburg lawyer Amy C. Foerster, who is working with the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on the case.
 

SpiraMirabilis

Possible Subversive
Another reason you need ALPA.

And another reason why the "watch-list" idea is stupid and perhaps unconstitutional.
 

ILSstud

Well-Known Member
I am not discounting the fact that we have many freedoms in this country...I for one will be the first to defend that fact....however, when a citizen (and apparently judging by the article a 'a law-abiding combat veteran') is put on a watch list and prevented from doing his job because he poses a supposed threat for not even doing anything pray tell me how that is freedom? These are indeed dangerous times, however this is NOT what this country was founded upon. IMHO.
 

SpiraMirabilis

Possible Subversive
Agreed, and the argument 'Well at least we're better off than Iran/China/etc' is kind of telling. If thats all we can say then we're in serious trouble.
.
There is no oversight for this watch list. Nobody knows how you get put on it and apparently it is nearly impossible to get off. That reeks.
 

ILSstud

Well-Known Member
Agreed, and the argument 'Well at least we're better off than Iran/China/etc' is kind of telling. If thats all we can say then we're in serious trouble.
.
There is no oversight for this watch list. Nobody knows how you get put on it and apparently it is nearly impossible to get off. That reeks.
Thank you! I only assume that the people that man this said "watch list" are about as competent as our devoted TSA agents at the airport...if that is the case...we better hope there are upstanding lawyers and citizens who try to keep these guys in check. That's all I am saying. Now off to watch some TV and enjoy a nice glass of wine...
 

170Homie

New Member
I've been on this damn list for a while and have the most common name. Every time I try to jumpseat I gotta be cleared off this idiotic list. It's funny, some gate agents don't know how to clear it so I end up helping them all the way through it. I memorized the procedures of American, Delta, and United lol. Is there ANYONE I can turn to for help or should I contact the Colgan guys attorney?
 

Boris Badenov

Just running in to a burning house...
This is how it starts. The water gets warmer, and warmer, and warmer. Thank God it can never happen here because, well. Just because.
 

bike21

9-5 Ruins Lives
You GOTS to be kidding. That's absolutely insane.

Well folks, we voted for this stuff.
"But I am OK with giving up som' my rights just so Osama don't coma knockin' on ma door!" "USA USA USA!!!!" :sarcasm:

There are people (political leaders) in this country that will invoke the general public's worst fears to attain their agendas. Just look no further than our current administration and of it's inept and near draconian policies.
 

coa787

Unknown Member
I am not discounting the fact that we have many freedoms in this country...I for one will be the first to defend that fact....however, when a citizen (and apparently judging by the article a 'a law-abiding combat veteran') is put on a watch list and prevented from doing his job because he poses a supposed threat for not even doing anything pray tell me how that is freedom? These are indeed dangerous times, however this is NOT what this country was founded upon. IMHO.
I agree also.

But I think that some people get a little carried away because when they hear or see "Land of the Free", they think they have unlimited freedom. That's all I was saying.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
I'll probably end up on that list eventually because my posts are probably all over Google complaining about the TSA.
 

bike21

9-5 Ruins Lives
I'll probably end up on that list eventually because my posts are probably all over Google complaining about the TSA.
Ha! I always wonder what the TSA goons would think if they grab any of my reading materials sometimes. I am reading about a lot of different religions and always carry a copy of the Dhammapada with me for some 'feel good' reading :)
 

bike21

9-5 Ruins Lives
Back on topic - it sucks balls about this Colgan pilot. Our government should be ashamed and someone should be accountable. This guy should have his job back with back pay. Stat.
 
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