Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy

By Susan N. Herman | Go to book overview
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4.
Traveling with Terror

We can’t just throw a bunch of names on these lists and call it
security If we can’t get an 8-year-old off the list, the whole list
becomes suspect
.—Rep. William J. Pascrell, Jr. (2010)1

If they have that kind of difficulty with a member of Congress [not
being allowed to fly because his name is on a No Fly list], how in
the world are average Americans, who are getting caught up in this
thing, how are they going to be treated fairly and not have their
rights abused?
—Sen. Edward J. Kennedy (2004)2

No American should be forced to undergo a virtual strip search
or subjected to such excessive groping of the body when there
is no suspicion of wrongdoing To do so goes against every
good and decent principle this country was founded upon
.—John
Whitehead, Rutherford Institute (2010)3

LIKE SENATOR EDWARD Kennedy, most Americans have had their closest encounters with antiterrorism measures and watchlists at the airport. As Senator Kennedy told an astonished Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2004, he was at Reagan Airport planning to take the US Air shuttle from Washington to Boston when an agent told him, “We can’t give [the ticket] to you, you can’t buy a ticket.” When Kennedy asked why not, the agent replied, “We can’t tell you.”4 Kennedy reported having had the same experience on other occasions when he tried to board a plane to return to his job in Washington, D.C. Apparently “T. Kennedy,” a name that must be shared by thousands of Americans, was an alias that appeared on one of the watchlists airport screeners were required to consult.

If your name appears on the No Fly list, a blacklist, you will be denied a boarding pass and referred to law enforcement. If your name is on only the companion “Automatic Selectee” list, you will not necessarily be prevented from flying, but you will be subjected to extra screening, ranging from an

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