< HOME  Monday, October 09, 2006

What's in a Name? The No-Fly List

Just to show you how far down the drain pipe we've gone - we can't even Name our children without having to check with homeland security first, unless of course we're willing to risk subjecting them to a lifetime of humiliation and detention at airports - assuming the world as we know it lasts that long.
(CBS) **60 Minutes*, in collaboration with the National Security News Service, has obtained the secret list used to screen airline passengers for terrorists and discovered it includes names of people not likely to cause terror, including the president of Bolivia, people who are dead and names so common, they are shared by thousands of innocent fliers.

But the names of some of the most dangerous living terrorists or suspects are kept off the list.

The 11 British suspects recently charged with plotting to blow up airliners with liquid explosives were not on it, despite the fact they were under surveillance for more than a year.

The name of David Belfield who now goes by Dawud Sallahuddin, is not on the list, even though he assassinated someone in Washington, D.C., for former Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini. This is because the accuracy of the list meant to uphold security takes a back seat to overarching security needs: it could get into the wrong hands. "The government doesn't want that information outside the government," says Cathy Berrick, director of Homeland Security investigations for the General Accounting Office.

Berrick says Homeland Security would probably agree that leaving such names off the list is a concern. The Transportation Security Administration is trying to fix the list through a program called "Secure Flight," says Berrick, but after three years and an estimated $144 million spent on the program, there's "nothing tangible yet," she says.

Even if the list is made more accurate, it won't help thousands of innocent travelers who share a common name on the list and who get detained, sometimes for hours, when they attempt to fly.

Gary Smith, John Williams and Robert Johnson are some of those names. Kroft talked to 12 people with the name Robert Johnson, all of whom are detained almost every time they fly. The detentions can include strip searches and long delays in their travels.

"Well, Robert Johnson will never get off the list," says Donna Bucella, who oversaw the creation of the list and has headed up the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center since 2003. She regrets the trouble they experience, but chalks it up to the price of security in the post-9/11 world. "They're going to be inconvenienced every time . because they do have the name of a person who's a known or suspected terrorist," says Bucella.

Cloonan, when shown a copy of the list from March 2006, tells Kroft, "I did see Osama bin Laden, both with an "O" in the first name and "U" in the second.I was glad to see that. But some of the other names I see here. I just have to scratch my head and say, 'My God, what have we created here?'"
Need you ask?


Post a Comment

<< Home