Friday, January 06, 2006

More creeping totalitarianism

Stories about the Bush Administration's "no-fly" list - a list of presumed terrorists barred from boarding any aircraft in the United States - have ranged from the suspicious top the absurd. Now, there's an even more suspicious story. James Moore is a former television correspondent and author of the book Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. And according to his own first-hand account at the Huffington post, he is on the no-fly list.

This week last year I was preparing for a trip to Ohio to conduct interviews and research for a new book I was writing. My airline tickets had been purchased on line and the morning of departure I went to the Internet to print out my boarding pass. I got a message that said, "Not Allowed." Several subsequent tries failed. Surely, I thought, it's just a glitch within the airline's servers or software.

I made it a point to arrive very early at the airport. My reservation was confirmed before I left home. I went to the electronic kiosk and punched in my confirmation number to print out my boarding pass and luggage tags. Another error message appeared, "Please see agent."

I did. She took my Texas driver's license and punched in the relevant information to her computer system.

"I'm sorry, sir," she said. "There seems to be a problem. You've been placed on the No Fly Watch List."

Maybe his suspicion is unfounded. Maybe his criticism of the Bush Administration has nothing to do with this, and it is another soundex match, or Homeland Security's infallible data-mining software really does think that someone who (in Moore's words" "[has] a mundane Anglo name, who pays tens of thousands of dollars every year in taxes, has never been arrested or even late on a credit card payment, is more uninteresting than a Tupperware party, and cries after the first two notes of the national anthem" really is suspicious. The problem is that we'll never know. People are placed on this list with no notification, they are not informed of the reason for their listing, and they have no way of disproving the allegations (if any) against them. This Kafkaesque cannot help but breed suspicion, simply because it is so secretive and seemingly immune to any evidence (unless you're a US Senator with the ear of Tom Ridge, of course).

And to link this to another Bush Administration civil liberties scandal, the above doesn't exactly provide reason for confidence in Bush's illegal domestic wiretapping program, does it?


What utterly chills me about this kind of list is the ease with which the NEXT step will be about a "No Travel Interstate List", or "No Bank Account List", or a "No Access to Public Facilities List", "No Access to Internet List", and so on.

Each one of these, as absurd as they may seem to us right now could be quite easily imposed with justifications about "security" in the wake of the next round of "terror" attacks.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/06/2006 02:07:00 PM

You would find Americans all over the internet who would be willing to put all of those suggestions into place.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/06/2006 02:23:00 PM

Great, so our choices range between malicious or incompetant.

I'm amazed there hasn't been enough public pressure for the no fly list to just be dumped.

Posted by Muerk : 1/07/2006 01:57:00 PM