During last Saturday’s radio program we discussed two separate, but related aspects of airline security . . . the No-Fly List and Airport Security. The question was whether these two processes require us to give up too much of our constitutional rights as a trade-off for heightened security?
The No-Fly list is created by a department of the FBI to keep suspected terrorists off of commercial airplanes. It has been criticized as violating civil liberties and due process, due in part to the potential for ethnic, religious, political, or racial profiling. It has also been criticized because mistaken identity, unrelated individuals with the same name, or confusion between similar names, abbreviations, or nicknames has resulted in regular citizens being placed on the No-Fly list. The result is a nightmare for those on the list by mistake and there seems to be no real way to correct errors.
First, do you want to know whether you are on the No-Fly list? Go to www.no-fly-list.com and type in your name to see if you, or someone you know is included on the Transportation Security Administration’s No-Fly List.
There are several recent court cases that have challenged how the No-Fly List is maintained . . . and so we raised the question with our listeners about whether they feel safer because there is a No-Fly list with almost 100,000 names on it?
Lets start with a little background on the No-Fly List.
The “No Fly List” is a list, created and maintained by a division of the FBI called the Terrorist Screening Center. It gets names from various government agencies, including:
o Department of Justice,
o Department of State,
o Department of Homeland Security,
o Department of Defense, and the
o United States Postal Service
The No-Fly list is developed from a Terrorist Watch List that contains around 1,500,000 names and in recent years has been expanding by approximately 500,000 new names each year.
Developing and maintaining a terrorist No-Fly List is supposedly one answer to the tragedy of September 11, 2001 . . . The perception is that a keeping a list keeps terrorists off commercial airlines.
But here is what bothers me . . .
The predecessor to the No Fly-List was called the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (often abbreviated CAPPS). CAPPS was in place on September 11, 2001
I certainly didn’t know until I was preparing for Saturday’s program . . . that 9 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were flagged by CAPPS for extra screening and actually had their carry-on and checked bags put through additional screening.
So the question remains . . . how much added security is achieved by spending billions of dollars on growing a terrorist list from a few thousand names in 2001 to 1.5 million names in 2014?