Do-Nothing Democrats

Senator Ted (Intertubes) Stevens is pissed!

This time doesn’t have to do with people just dumping e-mails on his e-truck or whatever. This is personal; this is family; this is about his wife Cat. According to the AP

At a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee, [Kip] Hawley[, head of the Transportation Security Administration] ran into inquiries from lawmakers with family members or friends who had encountered problems at airport checkpoints.

Among them was Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who complained that his wife, Catherine, was being identified as “Cat” Stevens and frequently stopped due to confusion with the former name of the folk singer now known as Yusuf Islam, whose name is on the list. In 2004 he was denied entry into the U.S., but officials declined to explain why.

Hawley explained that Secure Flight, the new passenger screening program, which he hopes will be running in 2008, would make such problems “a thing of the past.”

Ted isn’t the only person to have problems with the no-fly list. He’s not even the only Ted with the problem. He’s not even the only Senator named Ted who has gotten ruffled feathers over the N-FL. Back in 2004, the Washington Post very calmly (probably more so than Ted Kennedy) explained that,

U.S. Sen. Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy said yesterday that he was stopped and questioned at airports on the East Coast five times in March because his name appeared on the government’s secret “no-fly” list.

Federal air security officials said the initial error that led to scrutiny of the Massachusetts Democrat should not have happened even though they recognize that the no-fly list is imperfect. But privately they acknowledged being embarrassed that it took the senator and his staff more than three weeks to get his name removed.

Of course Republicans are nothing if not paradigms in organisation, fixes and problem solving. Thus this issue was quickly corrected and rectified. At least until someone at the TSA started reading about papal plots; confusing Congress with Parliament; 2005 with 1605; and Guy Fawkes with jihadist, terrorist NUNS!

Sister Glenn Anne McPhee is a busy woman.

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ secretary for education, Sister McPhee oversees Catholic education in the United States, from nursery school through post-graduate. Her job includes working with the Department of Education, speaking frequently at conferences and scrutinizing religious textbooks to clear them with the teachings of the church.

For nine months in 2003 and 2004, Sister McPhee also took on the task of clearing her name from the government’s no-fly list, an endeavor that proved fruitless until she called on a higher power, the White House.

Ok, that was then. Any administrative organisation able to quickly correct and rectify personal problems like Heck-of-a-Job Brownie and under the dictatorship tight reigned control of Michael Chertoff would, more then 5 years after 9/11, finally have everything under control. Unless of course you keep someone like Donna Bucella, head of the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center since it’s inception in 2003, on the job. She was interviewed by 60 Minutes last October,

Asked if she is confident that the list is complete and accurate, Bucella says, “It’s like painting a bridge. Once you finish one end, you gotta come back. So we endeavor to get the list as current and accurate and thorough as possible.”

She says there are people checking the names to make they belong on the list.

“We got a look at the No Fly List from March. And included on that list were 14 of the 19 September 11th hijackers. How do you explain that?” Kroft asks.

“Well, just because a person has died doesn’t necessarily mean that their identity has died. People sometime carry the identities of people who have died,” she says.

“What you are saying is that you have no information that this person is alive and poses a threat. It’s just a name in the database,” Kroft asks.

“In order fort the name to get in the data base there has to be information that they are a known suspected terrorist,” Bucella says.

“So you are saying it’s just a coincidence that there are 14 names in the computer that match the names of 9/11 terrorists. I mean, the people that are on the list have the same date of births as the people that were killed in the – that died in – the suicide bombers from 9/11. I mean, how do you account for that?” Kroft asks.

Bucella asked how recent this watch list was. When told it was from March, she said, “For some reason the agency might not necessarily want to have taken the name off the list. I can’t explain that.”

According to the article, other people on the list included Saddam Hussein, Nabih Berri, Lebanon’s parliamentary speaker, and Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia. One has to wonder if Saddam has been crossed out yet.

Yes, the TSA will be cutting the no-fly list (N-FL) in half. From an estimated 350,000 to a mere 175,000 people (or down to 25,000, or 22,000 – who the f*ck knows; it’s secret!) People, who are so scary, you don’t want them sitting next to you. Of course some of these no-flyables might be preferable to George Carlin’s proverbial drunk guy with the Grateful Dead T-Shirt and the Fuck-You hat. Or the people who think up these wonderful ideas like the N-FL. Or even Ted Stevens for that matter. But perhaps Family Guy showed the biggest threat to American skies.

So, maybe the Do-Nothing Democrats (almost a month in office and what have they accomplished?) will finally get up off their asses and do something about the N-FL, the threat of singing terrorists… and Ted Stevens.

(For your daily news on the N-FL and other security related issues you might pop by Schneier on Security who does a really good blog on personal, data and general security. He was my source for the 60-Minutes article and the video.)

Hat Tip: Wonkette)

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