Home > government > The Solution to Terrorism? Frisk That Kid!

The Solution to Terrorism? Frisk That Kid!

Thursday, January 14, 2010, 23:19 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

I [heart] being treated like a criminal by the TSABecause a small child might be, you know, packing.

Michael Winston Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled.

The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried.

After years of long delays and waits for supervisors at every airport ticket counter, this year’s vacation to the Bahamas badly shook up the family. Mikey was frisked on the way there, then more aggressively on the way home.

[ . . . ]

It is true that Mikey is not on the federal government’s “no-fly” list, which includes about 2,500 people, less than 10 percent of them from the United States. But his name appears to be among some 13,500 on the larger “selectee” list, which sets off a high level of security screening.

And God forbid anyone might actually think about whether the kid might be a different person from the name on the list.

Then there are these helpful tidbits for aspiring terrorists:

For every person on the lists, hundreds of others may get caught up simply because they share the same name […]

Mario Labbé, a frequent-flying Canadian record-company executive, started having problems at airports shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, with lengthy delays at checkpoints and mysterious questions about Japan. […]

Fed up, in the summer of 2008, he changed his name to François Mario Labbé. The problem vanished.

Several Web sites, including the T.S.A.’s own blog, are rife with tales of misidentification and strategies for solving them. Some travelers purposely misspell their own names when buying tickets, apparently enough to fool the system.

As someone who gets a patdown every time she flies (the POW-MIA bracelet I refuse to take off sets off the metal detector), I can attest to what a pain in the ass it is. But at least there is a somewhat rational reason why it happens to me. I expect it and prepare accordingly. Besides, I’m an adult and can handle it.

On the way home last Friday, Mikey’s boarding pass showed four giant red S’s at the airport in Nassau. “Oh, random screening,” Mrs. Hicks said. […] Mrs. Hicks said she wanted to take pictures of her son being frisked but was told it was against the rules.

Screw the rules. If the pat-down is done in a public place, she should take all the pictures she wants and plaster them all over the internet, as a reminder to us all what a joke our so-called airport security really is.

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