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Are We Safer Or Just More Annoyed?
The New York Times' Joe Sharkey on the No-Brains, uh, No-Fly list snafus, and how the suspected terrorists keep getting younger and younger. Like, just-out-of-diapers younger:

YOU may be surprised at the number of people who are routinely taken aside at airport security and given the third degree because, it seems, they share a name that is the same as or similar to one of tens of thousands of people who are on official watch lists and no-fly lists.

David Nelson, the elder son of Ozzie and Harriet in the 1950's-vintage television show, was one. Last month, a little boy traveling with his mother was flagged in Houston and allowed to board the plane only after a sensible official appraised the situation and said, essentially, "Come on, the kid's 4."

Last week, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska complained that his wife, Catherine Stevens, has been questioned at checkpoints because her name in its diminutive matches that of the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens. Now known as Yusuf Islam, he has been barred from entering the United States because of activities that the Department of Homeland Security said could be linked to terrorism.

"How do people get off these lists?" Senator Stevens asked Kip Hawley, who heads the Transportation Security Administration. Mr. Hawley was testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee, which Senator Stevens heads.

The hearing looked at two agency initiatives in air travel security: Secure Flight and Registered Traveler. The first, Secure Flight, is a government program to consolidate the various watch lists and no-fly lists. The goal is to make them smarter and more secure and to provide a more efficient way for people who do not belong on the lists to get off them.

Senator Conrad Burns of Montana marveled at the difficulty he had in getting help for innocent constituents. He is still working to clear one man. "The only place this guy is dangerous is on a golf course," Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Hawley said 30,000 people on the watch list have gone through the process of seeking redress. It involves things like submitting notarized copies of birth certificates and other personal documents.

If you are successful, you get a letter from the Transportation Security Administration saying you have been cleared. But your name remains on the list. On its Web site, the agency says, "While T.S.A. cannot ensure that these clearance procedures will relieve all delays, the procedures should facilitate a more efficient check-in process."

Posted by aalkon at February 17, 2006 9:07 AM

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It's amazing how many people will submit to being presumed guilty, then turn around and claim they live in "the land of the free". Get this, America: I'M NOT FLYING ANYWHERE. You even elected a President who literally could not get the clearances I have had, and I'm damned sure not about to let you think that my wanting to travel by plane means I'm using the pen-knife my late father gave me to bring America to its knees, you fearful oafs!

When I first saw the term "Homeland Security", the first word I thought of was, "Orwellian". It's a sickness, this idea that if you give government money and power, you will be "safe".

Posted by: Radwaste at February 17, 2006 3:45 AM

Last year, with a NYC press pass and an ID that identified me as an employee of FOX news (yeah, yeah, I know, Satan's minions)--I got stopped every time I flew. I got molested by a granny TSA employee in Salt Lake, first day on the job and I guess I looked Saudi. She went over my underwire bra with her teeth, I swear.

Sometimes I took it in stride, sometimes I got pissed off. Show got cancelled before I could bother getting off the list.

But jeeze--FOX news? Did TSA really think that was my cover?

Posted by: KateCoe at February 17, 2006 9:19 AM

It isn't about actual safety, or even meaningful security precautions. It's about the appearance of safety, of them being able to say, "we're doing something", without any regard for the fact that what they're doing has no meaningful impact on safety or security.

I'm with Rad on this one, I don't fly unless absolutely necessary (and that's rare). My name is apparently not on the 'list', but the fact that the powers that be believe that such a list has any effect (at least the way they're using it) is ludicrous.

When I first saw the term "Homeland Security", the first word I thought of was, "Orwellian". It's a sickness, this idea that if you give government money and power, you will be "safe"

Not only is this idea reprehensible, giving more money and power to the government actually makes you less safe.

Posted by: Dale at February 17, 2006 11:44 AM

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Posted by: Karen at August 4, 2006 12:14 PM

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