The Increasingly Unfriendly Skies
January 5, 2006 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Is your name James Moore? If so, you may be a terrorist. Or at least the NSA thinks so, having added that name -- which also happens to be the name of the author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential -- to its mysteriously targeted and infamously mismanaged "No-Fly" list [previously discussed here.]
posted by digaman (51 comments total)
Jesus, I meant to type TSA. Freudian slip!
posted by digaman at 3:21 PM on January 5, 2006

That's it, you're on the list!
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on January 5, 2006

Bush is Nixon with more unchecked power. Personal enemy lists. I'm sure he's got one, and I'm sure James Moore is on it.

He's been on this list for a year! This is disgusting. Can we march on the Whitehouse yet?
posted by Dag Maggot at 3:45 PM on January 5, 2006

Maybe Bush figured anybody named "Moore" must be The Enemy.
posted by digaman at 3:45 PM on January 5, 2006

"I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000."

I have a relative on this list. She's a retired school teacher and grandmother with a spotless record, no membership in any odd groups, never attended any subversive type meetings, etc, etc.

Yet I, who have publicly and constantly called for the overthrow of the Bush administration by vague means, attended many anti-war and anti-Bush events, was a member of a slightly radical student group in college, and spent more than an insignificant amount of time Googling "bomb recipes", can fly freely.

Better yet - Every time I fly my ticket gets printed with a code ("SSSS") which means I need to be searched and my luggage turned inside out. I know that's what the code means because the TSA folks always point it out when they tell me I need to be searched. But my wife, who always travels with me, is never searched or questioned. Ever.

How could any of this possibly be effective? Anyone? Wild guess?

If we tell the suspected terrorists that we're going to search them or detain them, but we're not going to bother with the folks they bought tickets together with, isn't this helping them get "bad things" on the plane? Aren't we telling them which attacker needs to carry the knives?

Are we really this stupid? I'm asking. Are we as a nation so dumb that we - any of us - can't just say enough is enough?
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:46 PM on January 5, 2006

So everyone in the world called James Moore can't fly?
posted by A189Nut at 3:52 PM on January 5, 2006

Hm, interesting. The last time I flew, I got that SSSS code too, was unable to use curbside check-in -- which meant an extra half-hour of waiting in line -- and was thoroughly searched.
posted by digaman at 3:53 PM on January 5, 2006

A189, even the James Moore of Bush's Brain can fly -- but he has to arrive three hours before every flight to go through the rigamarole of calling the TSA and proving that he's not that James Moore, whoever that James Moore is.
posted by digaman at 3:54 PM on January 5, 2006

4-year-old turns up on government ‘no-fly’ list
"Edward Allen’s reaction to being on the government’s 'no-fly' list should have been the tip-off that he is no terrorist.

'I don’t want to be on the list. I want to fly and see my grandma,' the 4-year-old boy said, according to his mother.

Sijollie Allen and her son had trouble boarding planes last month because someone with the same name as Edward is on a government terrorist watch list."

[Associated Press | January 5, 2006]
posted by ericb at 4:00 PM on January 5, 2006

"The last time I flew, I got that SSSS code too"

I'll bet you have it from now on. After the first time I got it it's been on every ticket. I just plan for it.

Try this - Have your wife bring all your carry on stuff through. It speeds things up quite a bit if they don't have to check your underwear and swab it for explosives.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:01 PM on January 5, 2006

"...a ticket agent told [Sijollie Allen ]: 'You’re lucky that we’re letting you through instead of putting you through the other process.'"
posted by ericb at 4:01 PM on January 5, 2006

God help us if they ever find MeFi. We'll all be blacklisted and grounded for life. :)
posted by Meredith at 4:10 PM on January 5, 2006

America is sleepwalking. It's the predictable process that somehow assures people that the government is taking our safety into account.

Frankly, I don't understand how the deaths of 3,000 people has led to such fear in people. Life is nothing but chance. Why the obsession in trying to transfer even minute risk from oneself to another?

The secrecy involved in the program merely reinforces that fear. If there was some recourse to being removed from the list (such as the 4 year old mentioned above) then their wouldn't be so much fear.
posted by infowar at 4:13 PM on January 5, 2006

So everyone in the world called James Moore can't fly?

Pretty much, yes. Or, at least, everyone in the world called James Moore is likely to get a very, very thorough going-over before they're allowed on a plane.

Because, you know, having the same name as that used by a terrorist as an alias (or suspected to have been used by a suspected terrorist, anyway) makes you just as bad as said suspected terrorist. Or something.
posted by littleme at 4:14 PM on January 5, 2006

D'you know, it occurs to me that the no-fly list could be used to actually eliminate suspects.

Just publish the names on it. Big list, all public and everything. Now you don't have to search the people using those names...

Well, for a little while, maybe.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:18 PM on January 5, 2006

He is being incredibly good about it. I would be fucking raging if I was unable to fly within my own country just because I wrote a book making fun of the government.

Behind the flimsy bluster of this and other more grandstand anti terrah measures, a gang of terrorists are crouched, waiting to get on a plane undetected, and I doubt any of them are called Yusuf Islam or have best selling books out criticizing George W. Bush.
posted by fire&wings at 4:22 PM on January 5, 2006

I like the GIGO argument from the FBI agent.

It’s not going to be an issue for me, but the abuse of this kind of power really pisses me off. It’s exactly the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen. Not simply because it’s used to make political undesirables uncomfortable, but also because it lacks in many respects, a fundamental reason behind it. Or, apparently, any methodology at all.

The more you see of the Herr Kommandant the more you see there are no set rules you can live by, you cannot say to yourself, "If I follow these rules, I will be safe."
posted by Smedleyman at 4:34 PM on January 5, 2006

FWIW, the "SSSS" thing on yur boarding pass may NOT follow you forever. I had it once last summer- I was on a business trip and my return fight was changed three times in 24 hous by my employer, so that sent up a red flag and I got the extra-thorough search.* I've flown a couple of times since then, though, and everything was back to normal.

*This was the Orlando airport, and I actually got through the line about 20 minutes faster than my co-workers who were flying with me, because they got stuck in a mass of people leaving Disneyworld in the regular lines.
posted by BoringPostcards at 4:49 PM on January 5, 2006

Given the number of self-described "investigative journalists" on that list, the process for getting on it really ought to be known by now. Surely at least one of the clerks that administer it is corruptible. (Or un-corruptible, depending on how you look at it.)

It seems very very odd to me that "you can't sue to find out". As a citizen of the USA you would surely have standing to object in court to your presence on a no-fly list, whether that list be maintained by a commercial entity or a government department. Whatever happened to the nation of lawsuits? Just get enough of the victims together to fund the process, put up one as the nominal plaintiff, and sue. Surely if anyone had actually tried this, the results, even if negative, would have shown up on blogs.

Newspaper ad: "Are you, your elderly granny, or your little child on the mysterious Do Not Fly list? Tired of being uselessly harassed at airports by poorly trained and rude minimum-wage employees while a genuine terrorist, just by using an alias that isn't your name, could easily walk through? Call this number: ..."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:50 PM on January 5, 2006

The list is now 80,000 names long? There must be thousands of common names on that list. I bet all the good names are already taken and, as time progresses, we'll have to start changing our names in ever more creative ways.

- Meridian Pooty-McChops Esq.
posted by Meridian at 5:22 PM on January 5, 2006

Does the SSSS code stand for Schutzstaffel supersuche?
posted by nlindstrom at 5:23 PM on January 5, 2006

My husband's very, very common name is on the no fly list. He goes through much annoyance when he travels. The dumb thing is, they can clearly see that he's traveling with me and with our two children, yet only HIS bags, person, etc. are repeatedly check and rechecked for who knows what contraband items. Wouldn't a terrorist perhaps be ok with putting dangerous stuff in his wife's bag too? Or on her person?
posted by onegreeneye at 5:26 PM on January 5, 2006

can you change your name and get off the list? Supposedly they are using the soundex algorithm.
posted by delmoi at 5:29 PM on January 5, 2006

They also use versions of a name. For example: Nelson David (pronounced Dah-veed) is on the list. Thus, anyone named David Nelson is on the list. Adding a Jr., or a middle name on your ticket doesn't differentiate you from that person, sadly. And there is a law suit going.
posted by onegreeneye at 5:44 PM on January 5, 2006

Sorry, I'm new to this. It didn't post the link to the CNN page detailing the ACLU's no fly list lawsuit.
posted by onegreeneye at 5:44 PM on January 5, 2006

It posts the link to CNN or else it gets the hose again.

--Leaving Disneyworld in the regular lines......
posted by longsleeves at 5:55 PM on January 5, 2006

Can someone collect a few of these common names that have been publicly confirmed to be on the No Fly list, and post them in an askMefi question to find out if readers who have these names themselves or have friends with them, have in fact taken flights without no-fly-list trouble?

Because I have a suspicion that most James Moore's are not being no-fly flagged, just this one.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:42 PM on January 5, 2006

Actually, I just realised that my suspicion is based largely on the commonsense knowledge that it would be mindnumbingly stupid and pointless to base the list on first and last name only, without additional information, but on reflection, I am niave to assume the homeland security apparatus of this country is not simply mindnumbingly stupid and pointless.
Which way would Occam's razor cut here?
posted by -harlequin- at 6:47 PM on January 5, 2006

From CNN:

"The "no-fly" list includes individuals' names, dates of birth, nationalities and passport numbers. "

This suggests the book author is being targeted specifically - that the no-fly list is really a partisan political-enemies list.

(As if putting all those peace group membership lists on it hadn't already made it crystal clear that the no-fly list is about political harassment, rather than fighting terrorism).
posted by -harlequin- at 6:58 PM on January 5, 2006

Stuff like this happens, and Bush expects us to trust him with wire-tapping.

My god, our country has become a joke.

A frieghtening joke.
posted by rougy at 6:58 PM on January 5, 2006

A joke that carries freight?
posted by squirrel at 7:21 PM on January 5, 2006


More like baggage.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:43 PM on January 5, 2006

This is how the Cube was created...
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:04 PM on January 5, 2006

re "From CNN:

"The "no-fly" list includes individuals' names, dates of birth, nationalities and passport numbers. "

Yes, but what happens is this:
Your passport # is not immediately checked, instead -
The automated machine wont give you a boarding pass.
Your e-ticket wont give you a boarding pass.
You think you're using the wrong credit card or something as there is no explanation.
You go to the human (looong line you were trying to avoid by using e-tickets or the self print boarding pass thing).
The human, who is 19 and stupid, looks at you like you're Bin Laden and calls a supervisor, who vanishes with your passport.
The guys with machine guns in camo, who are also 19, arrive.
The supervisor tells you you're going to have to have your bags checked physically, then x-rayed in a different machine (at least at Sea Tac) from the other luggage.
THEN you go through the regular xray.
THEN at the gate the camo guy shows up again and stands by while another 19 year old pulls out a porta screen.
You stand behind the porta screen and get felt up with a physical pat down.
Then you get your passport back, as they've now verified that the # on it is not the same as the bad Nelson David.
Then you get on the plane and people look at you like you have leprosy.

All the time, your wife and kids, who have been with you, don't get the same check over.

My money is on Bin Laden putting the no no in the diaper bag.
posted by onegreeneye at 8:23 PM on January 5, 2006


Ah. Well that's much better then. Good to see they do their very best to keep you occupied while they wait the necessary two hours it takes to deduce the passport number from your passport, in order to cross-reference it and clear you.

I was losing faith there for a moment.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:34 PM on January 5, 2006

Does anyone know of a web-based list of No Fly List names? I'm thinking of something where someone who finds out they're on the list can post their name.
posted by bshort at 8:37 PM on January 5, 2006

Everyone should change their name to George Walker Bush.

Geez. So obvious.
posted by Talez at 9:48 PM on January 5, 2006

What happens when someone doesn't have a passport and their name shows up on the No Fly list? Or when the name on the no-fly list doesn't have a passport associated with it? A lot of Americans don't bother to get passports because they don't travel internationally. The date of birth is still a point of disambiguation. I bet people in this circumstance still have to deal with even more crap though.
posted by rhiannon at 9:53 PM on January 5, 2006

Too bad fortunate son author, Jim Hatfield, isn't on the list.
posted by hortense at 9:57 PM on January 5, 2006

Talez: No good. That name's probably on the list. After all you can look on the internets and find that it matches a known terrorist.

Plus, I bet that they use a different list when deciding which of the passengers on Air Force One need a cavity search.
posted by Mr Stickfigure at 10:34 PM on January 5, 2006

My god, our country has become a joke.

Who knew that the pursuit of liberty was so that it could be killed?
posted by srboisvert at 2:01 AM on January 6, 2006

Are there any indications what this debacle is doing to tourism in America? It's definitely no longer on my list of "places I must visit"...
posted by Chunder at 2:34 AM on January 6, 2006

All you people saying that your spouses are getting through without being searched should be on that list, because you're revealing valuable intelligence to the enemy.

Tautology? What's that?
posted by dhartung at 2:37 AM on January 6, 2006

Chunder: International Arrivals declined 20% after September 11, but in 2005 probably cracked the pre-2001 record of 51 million. Much of the fall, and subsequent rise, is probably directly related to the economy.
posted by dhartung at 2:45 AM on January 6, 2006

Dear BobGod,

Please have these names added to the TSA No-fly list:

Bill O'Reilly
Ann Coulter
Sean Hannity
Jonah Goldberg
Rush Limbaugh
Paris Hilton
Tom Cruise
Tom Freidman
Pat Robertson
Jerry Falwell

Thank you and amen.
posted by nofundy at 5:59 AM on January 6, 2006

"The "no-fly" list includes individuals' names, dates of birth, nationalities and passport numbers. "

This suggests the book author is being targeted specifically - that the no-fly list is really a partisan political-enemies list.

i am on the no-fly list because my name is the same as this man's, save for the 'khan' part. nevermind the fact that i am canadian by birth, at least 50 years younger and of comletely different roots. whenever "they" pull me in for questioning they always have an amazon printout similar to the one i linked. first question has to do with whether or not i know the book, 'Arabic Script: Styles, Variants, and Calligraphic Adaptations' and then after i say "no", they then ask me if i wrote it.
posted by gman at 6:13 AM on January 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

They Amazon printout?

Fair makes you wonder what their research methods consist of. "We just got the passenger list faxed, quick Bill, go Google these folks."

God help us all when they find out about usenet.
posted by cps at 9:47 AM on January 6, 2006

"All you people saying that your spouses are getting through without being searched should be on that list, because you're revealing valuable intelligence to the enemy.
posted by dhartung at 2:37 AM PST on January 6"

Any "enemy" with half a brain could stand at the airport and watch this go on all day. Go to the seperate xray machine and watch who they xray "specially", or the gate and watch who they pat down, then notice that the pack o' family traveling with that person isn't also checked over. It's not rocket science. Any dork with a magazine sitting in a chair in an airport can observe this.
posted by onegreeneye at 10:37 AM on January 6, 2006

I should probably warn my cousin (James Moore, naturally).
posted by mewithoutyou at 5:21 PM on January 6, 2006

Who knew that the pursuit of liberty was so that it could be killed?

Or that the liberty-killing persue-ers would be so knowing?
posted by longsleeves at 5:58 PM on January 6, 2006

Chunder writes "It's definitely no longer on my list of 'places I must visit'..."

The US fell off that list for me when they started deporting Canadians to fricken' Syria.
posted by Mitheral at 7:27 AM on January 9, 2006

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