Air Marshalls Grounded By Terrorist Watch List


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Winchester 73
April 30, 2008, 11:32 PM
April 30, 2008

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080430/NATION/946059998/1001

By Audrey Hudson - False identifications based on a terrorist no-fly list have for years prevented some federal air marshals from boarding flights they are assigned to protect, according to officials with the agency, which is finally taking steps to address the problem.

Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) familiar with the situation say the mix-ups, in which marshals are mistaken for terrorism suspects who share the same names, have gone on for years — just as they have for thousands of members of the traveling public.

One air marshal said it has been "a major problem, where guys are denied boarding by the airline."

"In some cases, planes have departed without any coverage because the airline employees were adamant they would not fly," said the air marshal, who asked not to be named because the job requires anonymity. "I've seen guys actually being denied boarding."

A second air marshal said one agent "has been getting harassed for six years because his exact name is on the no-fly list."

Earlier this month, the agency issued a new Security Directive (SD) "to address those situations where air carriers deny FAMs boarding based on 'no-fly list' names matches." The memo was issued April 23 from the assistant director of the office of flight operations.

Gregory Alter, spokesman for the Federal Air Marshal Service, said the new directive "mitigates any misidentification concerns by empowering airlines to quickly clear an air marshal's status after positively identifying their law-enforcement status."

"In rare instances, air marshals, like all travelers, are occasionally misidentified as being on a watch because of name or personal identifier similarities to individuals actually on the lists," Mr. Alter said.

The air marshal service does not release how many agents are employed and declined to specify the number of agents whose names are similar to those of wanted or suspected terrorists.

The new procedures are classified as "sensitive security information" and address both domestic and international check-in procedures.

"FAMs may encounter situations where this SD has not yet reached every air carrier customer service representative (CSR)," the memo said.

"If a FAM is denied boarding based on 'no fly list' issues, FAMS should request to speak to an air carrier supervisory CSR. If the air carrier continues to deny the FAM a boarding pass, FAMS should contact [their supervisor] as soon as possible for assistance," the memo said.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said this week that one major air carrier reports roughly 9,000 false positive hits on the watch list every day.

The Terrorist Screening Center announced April 10 it will automatically review nearly 500,000 names on its watch list that are frequently matched during airport screenings and other law-enforcement encounters with the general public, and remove those names that don't belong to actual suspects.

Additionally, Mr. Chertoff announced Monday that each airline can now create a system of limited biographical data including a passenger's date of birth to clear up watch list misidentifications.

"Hassles due to misidentification and the resulting necessity to stand in line to check in at the ticket counter is consistently among the deepest and most valid complaints of the traveling public," Mr. Chertoff said.

"Thousands of passengers are inconvenienced each day, and this change should provide a way to eliminate the vast majority of these situations. This is good for travelers and for security, because as we make the checkpoint environment calmer, it becomes easier to spot individuals with hostile intent," Mr. Chertoff said.

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Sans Authoritas
May 1, 2008, 12:26 AM
Priceless.

-Sans Authoritas

Jeff White
May 1, 2008, 01:58 AM
Why do I feel that the part of the Global War on Terror that Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration is responsible for is really a Monty Python skit? I'm speechless......It wouldn't hurt so bad if they didn't make me pay for this stupidity.

Jeff

axegrinder
May 1, 2008, 02:03 AM
These are the folks entrusted to protect us?
I just can't wait for gov't healthcare!

A.G.

Ragnar Danneskjold
May 1, 2008, 02:13 AM
Who says it's even a mistake. Given the recent light being shown on Air Marshal hiring shadyness, maybe the watch list got it right.

jaholder1971
May 1, 2008, 02:23 AM
Why do I feel that the part of the Global War on Terror that Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration is responsible for is really a Monty Python skit?

HEy, what'cha got against Monty Python? At least they're funny!

ClickClickD'oh
May 1, 2008, 02:30 AM
For some reason, every time I read an article that mentions the TSA Yakkity Sax starts playing in my mind..

Dookie
May 1, 2008, 02:34 AM
So glad I have a VERY British name.

kd7nqb
May 1, 2008, 02:37 AM
Why the hell does an air marshal have to check in. I though the idea was NOBODY including airline staff knew who was and was not a marshal. The way it was explained to me each marshal had some generic looking boarding pass and when that was given to the TSA agent at the security checkpoint they say they need to do a hand pat down instead of metal detector. The TSA agent pats them down (knowing full well they have "banned" items) and the guy walks through but even TSA does not know which flight they got on.

Am I wrong?

Elza
May 1, 2008, 03:01 AM
Jeff White: Why do I feel that the part of the Global War on Terror that Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration is responsible for is really a Monty Python skit? Now this is priceless!!

Sage of Seattle
May 1, 2008, 03:08 AM
There are five. Hundred. Thousand. Names on this watch list?

A half million people?

I'm truly stunned at the extent of this.

CypherNinja
May 1, 2008, 03:58 AM
There are five. Hundred. Thousand. Names on this watch list?

A half million people?

I'm truly stunned at the extent of this.

Sage, given your understandable shock, I can forgive the small oversight you made.

They didn't say there were 500k names on the list.

They just said they were reviewing the 500k names that frequently generate false positives. You know, so they could remove the ones that don't belong to actual suspects.

;)

Dksimon
May 1, 2008, 04:26 AM
Wow, I dont have a very common name but in 500000 names im sure mine is in there somewhere.

Standing Wolf
May 1, 2008, 04:37 AM
Why do I feel that the part of the Global War on Terror that Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration is responsible for is really a Monty Python skit?

I'd say those idiots more closely resemble the Three Stooges. What a waste of our hard-earned tax dollars!

Sage of Seattle
May 1, 2008, 04:50 AM
Sage, given your understandable shock, I can forgive the small oversight you made.

They didn't say there were 500k names on the list.

They just said they were reviewing the 500k names that frequently generate false positives. You know, so they could remove the ones that don't belong to actual suspects.

There are five. Hundred. Thousand. False positives...

(got it right this time! :neener:)

Okay, I guess that sounds more... well, I was going to say reasonable, but I'm still not sure it really is all that reasonable.

But yes, thanks for the clarification.

erictank
May 1, 2008, 05:26 AM
Sage, given your understandable shock, I can forgive the small oversight you made.

They didn't say there were 500k names on the list.

They just said they were reviewing the 500k names that frequently generate false positives. You know, so they could remove the ones that don't belong to actual suspects.

Don't forget, DHS officials are on record as saying that ACTUAL TERRORISTS are deliberately excluded from the no-fly list.

Y'see, law-enforcement doesn't want to tip them off that they're under investigation...:banghead:

Does THAT make it better?

BTW, last I heard, the total number of names on the list was in the vicinity of 900K. Not dangerous enough to arrest and charge with a crime, but too dangerous to be allowed to get on a plane...:scrutiny:

qajaq59
May 1, 2008, 07:57 AM
And of course a terrorist would never think of flying while using an alias.

Good Grief....... What a waste of time, money, and energy that list is. :banghead:

Superlite27
May 1, 2008, 08:05 AM
There's a no fly list with 500,000 names of people who are banned from flying.

Airlines are going bankrupt for lack of business.

Coincidence?

I wonder if there are any other industries out there who are completely banning their customers from using their business, going bankrupt, then wondering how in the heck it's happening?

This is brilliant.

Ragnar Danneskjold
May 1, 2008, 08:17 AM
Well how canyou expect anything other than bankruptcy when each customer has to spend 3 hours jumping through .gov hoops every time they use the service.

K-Romulus
May 1, 2008, 10:41 AM
Well, to make this "gun related," remember this little vignette when you next hear Lautenberg or the "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" whine about "terrorist watch list people buying firearms." (See this thread: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=360165) :rolleyes:

mbt2001
May 1, 2008, 10:55 AM
Why do I feel that the part of the Global War on Terror that Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration is responsible for is really a Monty Python skit? I'm speechless......It wouldn't hurt so bad if they didn't make me pay for this stupidity.

Nice to have you back Jeff!

Earlier this month, the agency issued a new Security Directive (SD) "to address those situations where air carriers deny FAMs boarding based on 'no-fly list' names matches."

The rest of us can piss off though...

Harley Quinn
May 1, 2008, 12:41 PM
Who says it's even a mistake. Given the recent light being shown on Air Marshal hiring shadyness, maybe the watch list got it right.

I can understand the confusion and all I can say about the guy whose name is the same, he should change it :what: Add an additional name what ever it takes to do the job, been denied by good security he should get a different job;)

Good thread thanks.

:)

bogie
May 1, 2008, 01:06 PM
I just want to know how the ongoing paranoia campaign is related to our General Gun Discussion.

ochmude
May 1, 2008, 01:19 PM
This reminds me of an incident about 3 years ago when my platoon was flying on official orders on a civilian carrier to do some training at Camp Hanson in Okinawa. We were in cammies...with our rifles, btw, and one of our Marines was denied boarding because his name was on the watch list. This guy was a corporal in the Marine Corps, with a top secret clearance, traveling under official orders, in uniform, with 20 other armed Marines and officers, and he's told he can't board the plane.....:banghead:

Justin
May 1, 2008, 01:58 PM
This is off-topic for the General Gun Discussion forum, but feel free to start a discussion about this topic over at APS. (http://www.armedpolitesociety.com/)

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