Thursday, January 14, 2010
The TSA and Its 'Myths'
You have previously met here young Jack Anderson, aged 7 when that photo was taken in 2008 with his mother, Christine, near their home in Minneapolis.
Now behold the TSA in its full glory, insisting on the "Myth Busters" section of its chatty blog that it is a myth that there are eight year olds on the "no fly list."
The Times uses that in a story today in which it finds an eight-year-old, little Mickey Hicks, who has been subject to the third-degree when he shows up at an airport.
Anyway, it's certainly true that there are no eight-year-olds on the "no fly list," as the TSA maintains. The media keep using that term interchangeably with the "watch list," but it's incorrect to do so. The "no fly" portion of the watch list has about 2,000 names on it, and those people are all known terrorists. In other words, if someone identified as being on the "no fly" list shows up at an airport (and apparently no one has yet), they don't just get a third-degree, they don't fly and the cops are called.
The other portion of the list -- the so-called "selectee" part -- contains about 500,000 various identities, names, name variants, half-baked name leads, and historical grudge-list candidates (the late Jack Anderson, of course, was a pesky newspaper columnist who was loathed by Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover). People who share a name the same as or similar to any one of those "identities" have been getting the third-degree at airports, including at least these two young boys.
And yes, the TSA is technically correct, though thoroughly disingenuous. Young Jack Anderson, now aged nine, was evidently removed from the selectee list last year after his mother kept pressing for remedial action (and after all the publicity). I say apparently because the list is top-secret and the authorities never disclose who is on it or not).
Next -- One more time: How the watch list really works.