An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
August 16, 2005
In a process that has been fraught with pointless overkill and mindless bureaucracy, the Associated Press has turned up a real prize winner - infants and toddlers barred from boarding aircraft with their parents because the children's names have turned up on TSA's "no-fly" list.
The list - how names get on it and for what reason and any mechanism for verifying that the names should be there - is shrouded in departmental secrecy, and idiocies like this would explain why.
The AP cited a 1-year-old girl who was barred from boarding a Thanksgiving flight home with her self-described "hugely pregnant" mother because the computer flagged the child as a possible terrorist. In another case, a couple's boarding of a flight out of Washington was delayed because the name of their 11-month-old son cropped up on the no-fly list.
TSA has an opaque and mysterious process for getting names off the list. AP cites TSA figures showing that 89 children have applied to be de-listed, 14 of them under the age of 2. The number of children who have applied may seriously understate the number of children who have actually run afoul of the list, which, it should be pointed out, also ensnares well-known members of Congress.
TSA says children under 12 are not to be denied boarding nor singled out for additional security checks, but pronouncements by TSA headquarters don't always find their way down to the front lines.
If a domestic terrorist watch list can't be maintained properly, there's a good case for not having one at all and putting the resources into something more effective.
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com