U.S. Government Finally Recognizes that Nelson Mandela Isn’t a Terrorist

nelson-mandela.jpgFrom CNN:

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is to be removed from U.S. terrorism watch lists under a bill President Bush signed Tuesday.

Mandela and other members of the African National Congress have been on the list because of their fight against South Africa’s apartheid regime, which gave way to majority rule in 1994.

Apartheid was the nation’s system of legalized racial segregation that was enforced by the National Party government between 1948 and 1994.

The bill gives the State Department and the Homeland Security Department the authority to waive restrictions against ANC members.

“He had no place on our government’s terror watch list, and I’m pleased to see this bill finally become law,” said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

South Africa’s apartheid government had designated the ANC a terrorist organization during the group’s decades-long struggle against whites-only rule. Its members have been barred from receiving U.S. visas without special permission, and the bill Bush signed will lift that requirement, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

This demonstrates that greater scrutiny must be placed on the decisions about who gets placed on terrorist watch lists and other government blacklists. It took a long time for Nelson Mandela to get off the list, and I wonder whether anybody who isn’t of Mandela’s stature stands a chance getting off the list. The story also raises questions about just who is designated a terrorist. There must be greater accountability in creating these lists.

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5 Responses

  1. Yes, it did take a long time. Interesting. Curious.

    Yes, you’re right, there are potentially a lot of injustices about individual names apparently placed on the No Fly List.

    But the designation of a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) is official and public. And being that it is, I cannot find out how the ANC ever got on the official list.

    Here’s the current FTO list, at least as of 2005. No ANC. This list had its origins in 1997 (see Rep. Barney Frank’s history of legislation from 1987 on dealing with immigration control.) The original 1997 list had 30 organizations (no ANC); in 1999, three were dropped; one was added: “Al-Qaida, led by Usama bin Ladin.”

    Hmm. However did the ANC get officially categorized?

    Here’s the lead of a January 14, 1989 NYT article:

    “A Pentagon report listing an anti-apartheid group, the African National Congress, as a terrorist organization has touched off a furor in South Africa, and the State Department today repudiated that characterization.”

    Anthony Lewis regularly brought attention in his column in the 1990’s to the farcity of the laws in the 1990 and the 1996 immigration acts:

    “The counterterrorism law also allows the Government to deport a legally admitted alien, on the ground that he is suspected of a connection to terrorism, without letting him see or challenge the evidence. And it goes back to the McCarthy period by letting the Government designate organizations as ‘terrorist’ — a designation that could have included Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress before apartheid gave way to democracy in South Africa.”

    Could have. But if the ANC was never on the FTO, how was it possible that the names of their members were added to the watch list?

    Continuing on the theme of Danielle Citron’s Open Code Governance, it would be nice if the database schemas and workflows of the No-Fly List were made public, so we could at least know whether the “create date” and “create reason” fields existed and were FOIAble.

  2. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    The threat from “domestic terrorists” apparently is largely of an “eco-terrorist” variety, that is,

    “special interest extremism, as characterized by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), has emerged as a serious terrorist threat. Generally, extremist groups engage in much activity that is protected by constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. Law enforcement becomes involved when the volatile talk of these groups transgresses into unlawful action. The FBI estimates that the ALF/ELF have committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars.”–Testimony of James F. Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, FBI

    Before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health

    February 12, 2002: “The Threat of Eco-Terrorism”

    Please see: http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress02/jarboe021202.htm

    It certainly is a rather generous and therefore troubling definition of terrorism that finds both the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), classified as terrorist groups. I know I sleep better at night knowing “The FBI and all of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners will continue to strive to address the difficult and unique challenges posed by eco-terrorists.”

  3. Czar says:

    What? How come the US suspects Nelson Mandela a terrorist? What did he do?

    Personally, I don’t think he is. I mean, he has done so many good things to South Africa. There’s no way he’ll become such. He’s good and great!

  4. ParatrooperJJ says:

    You are aware ANC is a communist organization correct? And that they killed many people in SA right?

  5. Brett Bellmore says:

    It’s arguable that Nelson Mandela wasn’t implicated, since he was in prison during much of the relevant time, (Unlike his wife, who was bloody up to her eyebrows.) but it’s quite understandable that the ANC would be declared a terrorist organization. Ever heard of “Necklacing”? “Officially” condemned by the ANC, but widely practiced by them.

    I’d say the only argument against the ANC having been a terrorist organization is the old one about treason: “Traitors never prosper, for if they do prosper, none dare call it treason.”

    The ANC prospered, that’s their only defense against the designation.