As Dangerous in the Air as Behind the Wheel?

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I'd always suspected that the macrocephalic senator from Massachussets might be hiding a spare box cutter or some plastic explosives in that Sputnikesque melon, and so I'm gratified to see that the Transportation Security Administration is taking that threat seriously. Ted Kennedy has been blocked from boarding airplanes on numerous occasions because the alias "Edward Kennedy," apparently used by some terrorists in the past, appears on the no-fly list. Now if only terrorists would only adopt the MO of travelling with crying babies. We wrote about problems with the no-fly list back in March.

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  1. Can we get some terrorists to use aliases like “Thomas Ridge” and “John Aschcroft,” too?

  2. It’s as if the bureaucrats have lost their sense of self-preservation. This is the best thing to happen to America since…forever.

    Imagine what this means: no one named Edward Kennedy can fly on airplanes out of a US airport. Think of how many Edward Kennedys there are…think of how many people have the same names. A terrorist could cripple the entire US travel industry merely by using the alias “Chris Johnson.”

    Have any actual terrorists been caught by this system, boarding an airplane using their own names? How long does an alias stay in the system? Forever? Will the name “Edward Kennedy” pass out of use like Guy Fawkes or Adolf Hitler, simply because it is too notorious to enable its bearer to function in the creepy, paranoid, post-9/11 world of lists and checkpoints and informants? Would the Department of Orwellian Euphemisms please publish a list of names I should not give my children?

  3. I think Ashcroft and Ridge get their own private planes, as do Bush and Cheney of course.

  4. The name probably got in there via the Duke Ellington entry when the TSA merged in Nixon’s and J. Edgar Hoover’s enemies lists.

  5. “I think Ashcroft and Ridge get their own private planes, as do Bush and Cheney of course.”

    They do until next January 20, anyway.

  6. We’ll keep going after the wrong people until there’s been another big attack. Then, assuming there’s still a recognizable federal government, I imagine we’ll elect people who know how to bomb and profile. I myself favor the Lileks/Malkin ticket, as offering the best mix of nukes and camps.

  7. We’ll keep going after the wrong people until there’s been another big attack.

    Isn’t that a tautology? If there’s another attack, then obviously we went after the wrong people… the “right people” were the ones that attacked.

  8. Well; if it caused Kennedy to miss senate votes, perhaps the no-fly list has actually made a positive contribution.

    In this context, I like “Sputnikesque” better than “macrocephalic” since the latter means, huge head AND huge brain. Is there really any indication that Big Head Ted has a brain to match?

  9. Senator Ted Kennedy terrorist, where’s the confusion?

  10. According to Homeland Security’s explanation (see http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/06/terror/main610466.shtml), there are actually multiple levels of watch lists, giving different degrees of suspicion, and Kennedy was on one of the lesser watch lists. But given Homeland Security’s disinclination to reveal anything it’s doing, it’s not surprising everyone’s confused.

    Hmmm: Do you really think Ted Kennedy has any idea what’s in the U.S. Constitution?

  11. Kennedy’s inclusion on the list seems highly likely to be a prank by some conservative-leaning Homeland Security bureaucrat. I’m surprised this rather obvious explanation hasn’t been offered more widely.

  12. “I think Ashcroft and Ridge get their own private planes, as do Bush and Cheney of course.”

    Actually, I was told by someone that during the Clinton administartion, he was on the same passenger flight as Janet Reno and several Secret Service agents.

    “Well; if it caused Kennedy to miss senate votes, perhaps the no-fly list has actually made a positive contribution.”

    That brings about the point that Ted Kennedy could simply invoke Article I, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution to avoid being detained or delayed at airports.

  13. Bobo, That’s the first thing I thought of when I heard this story. Petty revenge is one of the civil service’s best perks: if you don’t believe me, visit the Virginia DMV and act like an asshole.

  14. There may or may not be factually-correct ironic elements here. (Warning: that’s a link to google).

  15. Apparently Kennedy was removed from the list after he called Tom Ridge. Will Tom’s phone number be available to other citizens for this purpose? Did Kennedy skip to the front of the line to have his case reviewed? It appears the senator has used his position to obtain services not availbale to the public.

  16. Regarding the Article I, S.6 post:

    They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, beprivileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

    The DHS isn’t “Arresting” people, it’s simply “detaining” them. There’s a world of difference between the two.

    Even though they both, in practical terms, mean the same thing (the government curtails your freedom of movement and action), one word invokes certain Constitutional rights afforded Citizens. The other is a weasel word to get around said rights.

  17. Only the Bush Administration could be so stupid as to try to take Ted Kennedy out of the skies and make him travel by automobile instead.

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