Wednesday, April 12, 2006

That No Fly List

Catches a Marine. On his way home. From Iraq. In uniform. With his unit.

Un. Be. Lieve. Able.

Note that the rest of the unit waited for him at their destination. Thanks for doing what you did, boys, both over there and at home.


Dante said...

"The presence of Brown's name on the watch list apparently resulted from an airport incident when he was on his way to Iraq."

They found gunpowder residue in his boots, Pat. Sure he's military, but the screeners didn't know that for sure. That's why he was stopped the first time around. The second time around he was flagged because of the aformentioned gunpowder incident. I'm not sure why he was flagged for future scrutiny. We don't have that information.

What I do know is that while I am supremely greatful for what our men and women in the military are doing, I am also greatful for the screeners who have helped keep our airports a safer place and have taken a lot of flack from just about everyone. I'm also glad that terrorists can't get away with acting like military to breeze past security.

I think this Marine in particular showed a complete lack of class for being so anrgy about the security screening process. Many of the people who are on that list have done nothing wrong. Putting up with the "crap" of being on the government watch list is something anyone could potentially have to deal with. We should do it graciously. The TSA screeners may not be putting their own lives on the line but they certainly have a lot of lives in their hands. It's always better to be safe than sorry, even if it means inconveniencing one of our nation's heroes.

Patrick Armstrong said...

When he was on his way to Iraq vs. when he was on his way home from Iraq.

In the past vs today.

The difference being, in my mind, that if the thing was cleared up the first time and he was allowed to fly with gunpowder on boots, then the second time should not have happened. It looks to me that the first time (when the more dangerous issue was going on) actually caused the second time.

Even if they are keeping records of everyone that has been stopped, they can keep records of when people have been cleared.

The least that could be done is to stick a little note in the TSA file so they'd know about the first incident and why he was on the watch list in the first place.

Laddi said...

I agree with Dante. I'm glad they are vigilant.

Maybe he was held for hours on end but the article said he was "delayed briefly." What's the big deal?

My wife's name (before we were married) was on the do not fly list, too. Took less than 3 minutes to clear it up. We were "delayed briefly." Right name, wrong person. Maybe her circumstances made a big difference (not in military gear, not Arab looking, etc.), but we weren't all in arms about it. They could have held her indefinitely, and I think we would have understood them dotting i's and crossing t's. It was more funny than anything. This is so non-news, and seemingly more of a ha-ha "you guys won't believe this" type funny story. Haha.

Dante said...

In a world where we heavily scrutinized folks for a lot of unconnected dots in a certain terrorist attack, it would be very foolish of the airport screeners to not doublecheck this guy on his way back home. Imagine if he did intend to carry a bomb on a plane or worse. Could you imagine the hard time everyone would be giving the TSA for not stopping someone who has already had to undergo further scrutiny once before? Remember, being in the military doesn't automatically exlude you from terrorist activity.

Patrick Armstrong said...

"Imagine if he did intend to carry a bomb on a plane or worse."


On March 17, 2006, it was reported that airport screeners in 21 airports failied to find bombmaking materials, even when folks set off extra triggers.

On March 31, 2006 it was reported that airports aren't getting the equipment they need because the TSA can't keep up with their contract information.

On February 9, 2006, it was reported that it is the airlines, not the US governement, that checks passengers based off the listst the government gives them, and that those lists aren't always updated accurately.

We may still have to divert airplanes in flight because those lists just mentioned aren't updated accurately. And I do think that, if airport security won't update its own records to distinguish a Marine's gunpowdered boots from an actual threat, airport security may actually allow more security threats than it stops. Especially with loopholes like this.

But then again, maybe I'm just being too hard on the people who do thankless jobs for little pay & have to deal with business class entitlement issues at every turn.

At least they caught the Marine, right? Just to be sure, they caught him twice. If that don't make me feel secure, I don't know what will.

petallic said...

When I flew back into Hartsfield last Friday, they rescreened my bags and searched me before I could leave. I totally understand searching me before I can board the plane, but searching me so I can leave?

I dunno, but whatever they feel necessary to attempt safety measures, I'm okay with it. I feel bad for the guy, but it happens. No big.

patsbrother said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
patsbrother said...

Rejoice and be glad! Grand Pooh-bah Pat has announced a thrilling new legal principle, folks: if the government doesn't fully enforce a rule, make that rule even more lax.

Perhaps he just wants to take evasisve action to make the government appear to be working above the curve by lowering it. Golly! That's got to be some of the best darn jingoism in America!

That silly Al Gore: he was chosen for random screening twice recently, even though people recognized him, and he didn't gripe about it. What's America coming to when former politicians actually follow the rules? (Thankfully, we have Rep. McKinney to balance it all out. God bless that woman!)

Red flags go up. It's a marine. Well, gee, since other screeners in other cities have let bomb components get by them, that red flag is probably no big deal. Go on through: I don't have to check.

Ah, another red flag! But you, sir, you've got on a nice Red Cross pin: no terrorist donates blood! Go on through.

Fooey. Another one. You know what. you remind me of my cousin Willard. You can't possibly be up to no good! I never saw you. (But lay off the drinks: Willard never could hold his al-kee-hol.)

Wow! Life as a screener has never been so easy! Thanks Grand Pooh-bah!

ruby booth said...

Oh, for fuck's sake. This wasn't some guy on a vacation with his family -- he was being transported by the US government back home from a combat tour. The US military uses commercial air, in many cases, rather than divert military craft for troop transport in relatively safe areas. If our post-9/11 measures make it harder for the US Marine Corps to transport troops to or from the war, then we have screwed up. Because we have no evidence that these measures make our country more safe, but I’m damn sure the Marines do.

This is not an instance of someone with clout wanting a free pass. If our screening processes are this unsophisticated, then they need immediate, substantial revision. How can anyone make the argument that presence of gunpowder on a Marine's boots should cause him to be placed on a watch list? Perhaps if he were lacking in gunpowder I could see the argument. And what exactly does he have to do to get off the list? What happens next time he goes to the airport?

Also, for the record, an attack by a US soldier on a US Army base is not terrorism: it is treason.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Uhh. No. Really, I'm kind of worried about airport security. Stopping this Marine the second time tells me that the system doesn't work.

Here's why:

1st time guy gets stopped is in June: gunpowder residue on boots. Ok stop. But one would think that security cleared the guy that time, otherwise they wouldn't have let him fly. I can see the calls to the government agencies and the red tape that had to be gone through. But they let him fly once they realized he wasn't a threat.

2nd time guy gets stopped is this week. He was not stopped because of any gunpowder on his boots this time (according to the article at least) he was only stopped this time because he had been stopped before. His name was on the list.

My problem with this is the red tape. Yes, dude had been stopped before. But dude had been cleared before! This tells me (as a bureaucrat) that the government lists are around 11 months behind, and are being kept incorrectly.

You fellas can call me names and hold this up as an example of the system working all you want, but the simple fact is that we have a list that is not being updated correctly or in a timely manner. People who are cleared still show up. That creates double work and confusion. That does not help secure our skies. IMHO.

Dante said...

"11 months behind" is pretty general. You seem to be insinuating that the list does not have everyone who should be on it because someone who should be removed was not removed yet. As someone who whose resume hinges on the sheer volume of data I've managed, that assertion is not valid.

Since everyone on this list gets extra scrutiny and there is a set of people who should get extra scruity, as long as the list of people who should get exrta scrutiny is a subset of the entire list, the list is still logically correct. The most efficient soltion would be for the list of people who should be on the list to be equivalent to the entire list but that's certainly not neccessary to our national security. It merely means the TSA has to heavily scrutinize people who don't deserve extra scrutiny.

Since this Marine should've been deleted but didn't, he doesn't disprove that the list of people who should be on the list are a subset of the entire list. He merely proves that the list probably isn't optimal if our assumption that he indeed should've been removed from this list is correct.

And Ruby, if I'm not mistaken this man was not being transported by the US government at the point where he was detained. He was being transported by private carrier with the US government footing part to all of the bill.