Activists' names on no-fly blacklist -
September 28, 2002 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Activists' names on no-fly blacklist - A federal "No Fly" list, intended to keep terrorists from boarding planes, is snaring peace activists. Several federal agencies -- including the CIA, FBI, INS and State Department -- contribute names to the list. But no one at those agencies could say who is responsible for managing the list or who can remove names of people who have been cleared by authorities.
posted by dejah420 (19 comments total)
Nice to know blacklists are alive and well. Does anyone else find it asinine that the list is based solely on names and no other identifying criteria? Right ... because no one can fake their name, and each and every one is as unique as a snowflake.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:01 PM on September 28, 2002

dejah, thank you for this post.
posted by anastasiav at 11:29 PM on September 28, 2002

Its ironic. I got the sense, back in 2000, that many voters supported Bush partly because they wanted some relief from the turbulent Clinton years. Go figure.

(Yes, I'm very aware that the primary source of this administration's turbulence was forced upon it. But the continual stream of "wow, I can't believe they're doing that" stories is still remarkable).
posted by gsteff at 12:36 AM on September 29, 2002

I wish the story were more complete. A few months ago I read a similar story about someone who tried to get her name off the list, but no agency in the government could tell her how her name got on the list and how it could be removed. The makers and distributors of the list are completely unaccountable. I hate to describe this list with the overused word "Kafkaesque," but that's the best adjective.
posted by Holden at 4:34 AM on September 29, 2002

Welcome to Day One of your self-made police state. Do you like the cell you fashioned for yourself?
posted by fleener at 6:21 AM on September 29, 2002

It's far more than Day One, fleener. We're well on our way to a uniquely American, polite, smiling, non-goose stepping form of fascism.
posted by gordian knot at 6:26 AM on September 29, 2002

"Your not on the blacklist, I mean The Terrorist Hotlist, but I just can't show you the list. Trust Us (tm)."

As an aside, I just flew through LAX and it was like I was a reporter meeting with Jesus, there were so many searches.

I guess now with airflight affordable to everyone, I'll have to fly private, and leave the commercial snooping to all the proles.

Funny how moving to Germany seems like the way to avoid fascism.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:33 AM on September 29, 2002

This is endlessly disturbing.. Every day I think a little harder about moving out of the country.. But to where? I really don't know, and I only speak one language (this one).

Whenever I tell people about these sorts of things (seems to be happening a lot during the Bush admin), I have to routinely call upon the mantra of such people like Michael Moore, Tom Tommorow, Dave Barry, etc, when I tell them emphatically, "I'm Not Making This Up!"
posted by phidauex at 8:37 AM on September 29, 2002

Five months later, the 20 members of Peace Action Wisconsin still haven't been told why they were detained. Even local sheriff's deputies and airline officials admitted confusion about why the group was stopped, when only one member's name resembled one on the no-fly list.

At the time, a Midwest Express Airlines spokeswoman (said)that a group member's name was similar to one on the list and "made the decision that since this was a group, we should rescreen all of them."

Wow, there is so much that is wrong with this I am sputtering.

1.) There is no physical description, no driver's license number, no fingerprint link...just a "similar name." Boom. Good enough to detain/harass you. (Wait til John Smith makes the List.)

2.) You are traveling with 19 other people? Fine, we will "rescreen" all of them..anyone you are seen talking to. You haven't actually done anything, but you might! (Note: "rescreening" the 20 people meant a delay long enough for them to miss their flight.

3.) You want to clear your name? Too bad, because..Ha! Ha! we don't know who put your name on the list or why...and we certainly can't show you the list.. and there is no way to officially get your name off the list. (Better make sure you don't piss off anyone at the CIA, FBI, INS, etc.)

Actually maybe this is good...maybe if there is no way to get a name removed from the list, the list will eventually become so long and so unwieldy that it will be unusable. Come on everyone! Let's all get out there and protest!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:39 AM on September 29, 2002

fleener, you seem to be saying that the reader who is concered about this, and - like the Wisconsin group - wish to have the right to dissent without liberties being compromised, what - they construct that in their own head? Ri-iiight...

I'm amazed at the number of peace activists whose name remind the guards of terrorists names....
- Rebecca Gordon, 50
- Jan Adams, 55
- Sister Virgine Lawinger, 74
- Nancy Oden
posted by dash_slot- at 9:22 AM on September 29, 2002

I don't live in a police state, at least not yet. Chen Shaowen and Nguyen Vu Binh live in police states. This no-fly blacklist is another disturbing step in the wrong direction and certainly merits concern, but we would still have several big leaps to make before we became a police state. And according to this article, Europe has gone further in suppressing civil liberties than the U.S. has.
posted by homunculus at 10:42 AM on September 29, 2002

Well, exactly- that's why they call it a slippery slope. It doesn't really happen over night- it happens by little bits and pieces, and then one day you look up and it really hits you how much has changed, but by then it seems too late to change it back. It's the little things, and the apparent willingness on the part of someone to accept these changes (who, though? other than the occasional nitwit at MeFi, I'm really not hearing any ardent Bush supporters or "we-have-too-many-civil-liberties" types- is this the Emperor's new mandate? And who the hell are they polling to get those poll numbers?).
posted by hincandenza at 12:24 PM on September 29, 2002

Hhhmmm ... perhaps we need to add a correlary to Godwin's law - instead of the invocation of Hitler, it'll be something about how quickly any piece of news can spark a "1984" or "Police State" reference.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:14 PM on September 29, 2002

So this has happened repeatedly, to Nancy Oden, to twenty people including an elderly nun, so where is the lawsuit. Oden, et al vs. Ashcroft - for violation of civil rights, denial of due process and various civil damages arising from being manhandled and treated like a criminal based on spurious evidence? Why is it that the SF Chronicle has contacted the ACLU but none of the victims of this garbage has? If this kind of nonsense is going to be stopped -- or at least brought out into daylight -- someone has to take action, and that means more than complaining to the media.
posted by Dreama at 1:26 PM on September 29, 2002

I'd wager no action has been taken because there is nothing illegal going on here. The Nancy Oden story - if I remember properly - was due more to her getting irate at the screeners than from her reputation. The others I can't say for sure, but would speculate that its a nice notch in a serial protester's belt to say that they got hassled by the oppressive govt in the airport because of their political activities.

More likely is that they just simply got hassled - like everyone else in the airport does these days - and took it personally because they have turned their world into an Us vs. Them existence.
posted by schlyer at 1:52 PM on September 29, 2002

A few months ago I read a similar story about someone who tried to get her name off the list, but no agency in the government could tell her how her name got on the list and how it could be removed.

This was reported on NPR. Excerpt: "John Ydstie talks with Johnnie Thomas, a 70-year-old grandmother who has been stopped repeatedly at airports. Her name is the same as one of the aliases used by a man who was at one time on the FBI's list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitive
posted by Wet Spot at 4:53 PM on September 29, 2002

Just wait til 1 in 24 of our neighbors in the Citizen Corps starts calling in TIPs... we'll all be taking Greyhound.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:23 PM on September 29, 2002

no one at those agencies could say who is responsible for managing the list or who can remove names of people who have been cleared by authorities.

Paging Tom Ridge to the courtesy phone.
Paging Tom Ridge to the courtesy phone.
Tom Ridge.
To the courtesy phone, please.

[good lord, what is the Office of Homeland Security *for* if not to coordinate this kind of thing?]
posted by mediareport at 6:42 PM on September 29, 2002

If you ever see me in an airport, please remember to refer to me by my preferred nom de voyage: George Bush.
posted by briank at 6:43 PM on September 29, 2002

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