Apparently either Jo-anne or I share a name with, or similar to, someone on the U.S. government’s secret terrorist watch list. I can’t say which of us it is; no one at the airport is authorized to tell us that. All I know is we were prevented from checking in at the Tucson airport on Thursday without additional identification.
We can no longer check-in online or use the electronic kiosks until we go through a months-long process to try to clear whichever one of our names causes the problem. During which time we’re advised not to travel. This latter bit is unfortunate, since both of us have international meetings this summer. There is the additional worry that in the future we may be forced through extra security, missing flights. Or worse, that Jo-anne (who is not a U.S. citizen) might be held up re-entering the U.S.
What stings the most is just how arbitrary this is. I’ve done nothing. Jo-anne’s done nothing. Yet we’re treated as second-class citizens as a consequence of nothing other than bureaucratic ineptitude and the creeping police state. Granted, having to check-in with extra I.D. at the ticket counter is on the surface only a minor inconvenience, but convenience isn’t the issue. The issue is this:
Once a name finds its way into the database, there’s no way to get it out. Citizens can write to the TSA to protest and declare their innocence, but the best they can hope for is to be placed on a meta-list of people who have asked to be removed.
“The net result is a no-fly list that is worse than useless. Many of the worst terrorists are kept off for security reasons, while innocent people are unable to clear their names. Far from keeping us safer, the TSA’s no-fly list has become a bureaucratic, terrorist and civil liberties threat in its own right.”