On December 10 Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA-4) said he was once denied being able to check onto a flight only to discover the reason for the denial was that he had been inadvertently included on the no-fly list.
McClintock said he asked airline personnel why he could not check in, only to be told he “was on [a] government list.” When he asked how he ended up on the list he was told, “That’s classified.” When he asked how to get off the list he was told, “You can’t.”
According to The Sacramento Bee, McClintock said his inclusion on the list “ended up being a case of mistaken identity with an Irish Republican Army activist”–which perfectly illustrates the dangers posed by false-positive identifications associated with the list. He said it ” took months of working with officials and repeated petitions to the government to get his name removed.” In the short term, he was able to beat the list by simply flying under his middle name, which seems to indicate the list’s impotency.
McClintock’s experience is not uncommon. On December 7 the Los Angeles Times reported:
Serious flaws in the [no-fly list and terror watch list] have been identified. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing the government over the no-fly list, the two lists include thousands of names that have been added in error, as well as the names of family members of suspected terrorists. The no-fly list has also been used to deny boarding passes to people who only share a name with a suspected terrorist. Former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was famously questioned at airports in 2004 because a terror suspect had used the alias “T. Kennedy.” It took the senator’s office three weeks to get his name cleared.
On December 3 the U.S. Senate voted down efforts to include the no-fly list in background checks and on December 10 the House GOP was also able to defeat a push to include the list in gun control regulations.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.