More than half a dozen Republican senators penned a letter last week demanding the Department of Justice (DOJ) reject a request to stamp those who protest airplane mask mandates as “terrorists.”
Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian asked the DOJ to add travelers convicted of “unruly” conduct to a new “no-fly” list barring access to commercial air transport. Such conduct warranting the same expulsion granted to suspected terrorists include those who’ve resisted compliance with mask requirements, which made up nearly three-quarters of airplane disputes last year, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration published by CNBC.
“Like other airlines, Delta maintains its own no-fly list for anyone who disrupts onboard safety or refuses to comply with crew instructions,” Bastian wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday doubling down on his request. “But unfortunately, we’ve seen cases in which unruly passengers have simply switched airlines and continued to fly even after endangering flight safety… Only a comprehensive list overseen by the federal government can close the loopholes and prevent disrupters from flying.”
Last week, Republican lawmakers objected to the push for treating those who protest airplane mask mandates as suspected terrorists.
“While airlines are currently free to deny service to any individual over past transgressions on their flights, the federal government’s role in denying access to the commercial aviation network has been limited to ensuring that suspected terrorists remain off of domestic flights,” senators wrote. “The creation of this list by DOJ would result in a severe restriction on the ability of citizens to fully exercise their constitutional right to engage in interstate transportation.”
Face masks have been required on airplanes since President Joe Biden took office last year and signed the mandate as one of his first moves in office. On track to expire March 18, the mandate is likely to be extended again as compulsory facial coverings have become a religious movement among leftists.
“While we strongly condemn any violence towards airline workers,” lawmakers added, “there is significant uncertainty around the efficacy of this mandate.”
The Republicans pointed to Senate testimony from the CEO of Southwest Airlines in December who conceded the masks “don’t add much” to passenger protection from the Wuhan coronavirus considering sophisticated ventilation on modern aircraft.
“The statistics, I recall, is that 99.97 percent of airborne pathogens are captured by the [high-efficiency particulate air] filtering system,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “It’s turned over every two or three minutes.”
The efficacy of masks to stop transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus to begin with remains ambiguous at best.
Wyoming Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis, who led the letter to Garland last week with seven GOP colleagues, told The Federalist no-fly lists have already barred law-abiding travelers from commercial airline access.
“There are real concerns about the current no-fly list for terrorists, because it has accidentally stopped honest, law-abiding Americans,” Lummis said. “This is unacceptable, and I have real concerns that an additional no-fly list would do that more and more.”
Lummis also pointed to collusion between the DOJ and the National School Boards Association (NSBC) last fall seeking to indict concerned parents about race-based curricula and obsessive COVID protocols as “domestic terrorists” as reason to be skeptical of the department’s approach weaponizing the “terrorist” label on political dissidents. Garland admitted before House lawmakers in October the NSBA’s recommendation motivated the DOJ to use resources investigating upset parents.
“Given concerns over the Department of Education and Department of Justice’s responses to parents protesting radical school boards, I think my concerns about this list are doubly warranted,” Lummis told The Federalist, as liberal columnists such as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin claim Republicans are defending “thugs.” “The Department of Justice must not unilaterally create a new no-fly list to restrict the constitutional rights of American citizens.”