NY Times Finds An 8-Year-Old On TSA Flight Watch List

from the good-data-mining dept

Back in 2007, the TSA wrote a "mythbuster" blog post on its site claiming that no 8-year-olds were on the TSA "no fly" list, which apparently was a challenge to the NY Times. While it didn't actually find an 8-year-old on the "no fly" list, it did find one on the "watch list." To be fair, the TSA in its blog post does acknowledge that there could be some 8-year-olds on the watch list, but none on the no fly list. And the Times did not find one on the no fly list -- so the TSA's blog post is technically accurate.

That said, the TSA blog post also claims that if there are mistakes that lead to an 8-year-old being on the watch list, airlines can "automatically deselect" them. And... that did not appear to happen. The kid that the NYT found apparently gets vigorously searched every time he flies. The Times did get the TSA to say on record that "there are no children on the no-fly or selectee lists," but the fact that little Mikey Hicks gets searched so much highlights the problem. Right now, it seems like everything is based on a name alone. That's not particularly sophisticated. By this point, shouldn't the TSA have better tools than just a name to determine if someone is worth additional scrutiny?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    AdamR (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 7:03pm

    Yup, you would figure that they would have better tools after 9 plus years!

     

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  2.  
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    Thomas (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 7:35pm

    The article I read in my local paper noted how some people in this situation have changed or simply misspelled their names to avoid the extra scrutiny. That's something the terrorists will never figure out. I feel so much safer.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 8:13pm

    Re:

    Rest assured, the system is successful because the passengers will once again save the day!!! See, they were just testing us, they're trying to test the security system of having a passengers save the day and it was successful. Now we know the system works and can rest assured.

     

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  4.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 8:19pm

    Re:

    "some people in this situation have changed or simply misspelled their names to avoid the extra scrutiny."

    NYT article says the same. Mikey apparently was 1 month old on Sept 11 2001, his parents have been trying to get him off the list for seven years, and his mother is a photographer who has ridden on Air Force 2 when Al Gore was on it.

    I feel so safe that an 8 year old can't get through security carrying a bottle of water, but all a terrorist has to do is misspell their name to get waved through.

    Security theater indeed.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Re:

    but ... but ... the passengers will save the day! The passengers!!!! They will come to the rescue. National security had it planned all along, when the terrorists get on the airplane they will be stopped by the passengers. Did you honestly think that national security would let anything bad happen to us? No! They knew all along the passengers would stop the incident. They had it planned.

     

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  6.  
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    AdamR (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Re:

    Till some overzealous wanna be hero gets themselves or someone innocent hurt.

     

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  7.  
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    Freedom, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 9:02pm

    TSA or Google - who's worse...

    Got me wondering if the TSA is following Google's example on customer service? Both are extremely difficult to contact and get problems resolved.

    Makes me wonder if we shouldn't outsource the TSA to Google - at least the searches would be quick (argh!).

    Freedom

     

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  8.  
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    Just Me, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:32pm

    he was 2 when he was added on the list

    if you read TFA properly you'll see that he was 2 (TWO) years old when his name was added on the list:

    "The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried"

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 12:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I make it a point to body-tackle anyone I meet in the airport, in the off-chance that one of them is a terrorist.

    I encourage everyone to do the same.

     

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  10.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 1:09am

    "systemic" failure - of a failed system.

     

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  11.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 1:52am

    Re:

    Thank god no country allows its citizens to change their name legally, otherwise that would be a real problem...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:09am

    To solve this "name" problem, the TSA will now require you to have a bar code tattoo upon your forehead.

     

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  13.  
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    Beta, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    What does "automatically deselect" mean?

    And if the airlines do it, what does that have to do with how the TSA treats someone in the security checkpoint? And if it's automatic, how can it be something that the airlines can do?

     

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  14.  
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    CastorTroy-Libertarian, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    Re: he was 2 when he was added on the list

    Love the Irony...

    "at Newark LIBERTY International" was the airport the Keystone Kops (A.k.A TSA) patted down the dangerous and misguided Mikey, aka the Baby Face Killer... who's 2... they so blindly follow orders they Patted down a 2 year old... if they did that to my son, there woudld be a problem...

     

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  15.  
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    Michael, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:56am

    Really?

    So the TSA agent at the security checkpoint really doesn't have the power to say - not search the 8 year old?

    Really? The security "professionals" can't be trained to identify someone that is, you know, a KID and not search him? We can train a dog to sniff for drugs, but can't train our security people to ignore a list of names when the person is 8?

    I have a new security plan - hire smarter security people and TRAIN them.

    - Training -
    Step 1: don't strip search children
    Step 2: secure the guy with the firearm in his pocket
    ...

     

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  16.  
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    Mikey likes it, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:17am

    Maybe they like patting down 8 year olds

    I think that might be a perk of the job.

     

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  17.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:39am

    Re: he was 2 when he was added on the list

    "The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried"

    You know, not for nothing, but the TSA had better be thanking their lucky stars that there was no videotape of this for the 11 o'clock news. If there had been, people would have actually mobilized and began pissing and moaning, which is the only thing that can resurrect the Obama Golem into actually...you know...doing something....

     

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  18.  
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    Sajjon, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Beats the hell out of everyone dieing if you ask me.

     

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  19.  
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    Fritz, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:42am

    TSA Watch List

    I wonder how many of the NYT editors and writers are on this list? Most I would suspect.

     

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  20.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:05am

    Re: he was 2 when he was added on the list

    My kid was two-years-old (now five) when we found out he was on the "No Fly List" from an airline worker at the baggage check. I went to the TSA website to see how you could get a name removed and read the forms and procedures that only a true bureaucrat would love. You needed three or four forms of ID. Two were easy, birth certificate and social security card. I guess we could have paid and got him a passport for that third ID even though we had no plans to leave the states (and who knows what troubles we would have getting a passport for the same reasons). Added was that the form could only be completed and signed by the person requesting name removal. I sent a message to the ACLU, never heard anything back.

     

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  21.  
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    mike allen (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re:

    actually any one can change their bame legally in usa OR uk

     

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  22.  
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    Phillip (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    Re:

    how do they not include something besides a name which means nothing?

    No Photo
    No Description
    No Birthdate/Age est/real
    No other information

    Seriously all they use is a name. Which tells you nothing about anyone and is the easiest thing for anyone to change. So we have a system that can scrutinize an 8 year old, but all a real terrorist has to do is change their name and get a new passport and they're golden...

     

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  23.  
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    Phillip (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    i think you missed the sarcasm there ;)

     

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  24.  
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    amfarbs (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    Re: Really?

    Funny you mention that. The only airport and country to never have a terrorist incident is Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.

    Every single passenger is interviewed by highly trained security personnel at least once and get this, I never have to take my shoes off!! (Even when I flew back to the states just days after the Christmas incident)

    But convincing the TSA to favor intelligence over technology would be even harder than getting your name off the watch list!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, you have a choice. As a passenger you can either take full responsibility for our nations security or you can leave it up to the government. but the last time we left it up to the government airplanes hit buildings and it doesn't appear that the government has done anything to make us any more secure other than for the fact that passengers now stop terrorists.

     

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  26.  
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    william (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    as a Canadian, let's just say that I have avoided entering or pass through the US in the last 8 years when I travel. All the hassle, stress, delays just not worth the money that I could save by flying out US or pass through US airports.

    Guess the US economy is probably never going to see a cent from me again.

     

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  27.  
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    AdamR (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Really?

    "Funny you mention that. The only airport and country to never have a terrorist incident is Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel."

    Trying running some of their security procedures here and see what happens at those airports. Chaos and Mayhem are the first two that come to mind.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Really?

    Chaos and Mayhem are the first two that come to mind.

    Patting down 2 year-olds because their name is on some list pretty much fits my definition of chaos... Or maybe it's insanity...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Beta, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:32am

    Re: he was 2 when he was added on the list

    "I went to the TSA website to see how you could get a name removed and read the forms and procedures that only a true bureaucrat would love. You needed three or four forms of ID..."

    Interesting. Since the list is a list of names, not of people (a vital difference) this seems equivalent to saying "we might remove the name if a person of that name asks us to". It should be very easy to convince them that a person by that name exists (e.g. by providing an SS number, or a single form of ID -- which shows what name that person might travel under). So the ridiculous demand for multiple forms can serve only two purposes (apart from instinctive demands by bureacrats for more documents):

    1. to establish that the request really, really does come from a person by that name (and would anyone by that name really not want it taken off the list?), or
    2. to make the appeal process as difficult as possible so that they won't have to cope with too many of them.

    Remember that as soon as you begin their appeal process, you are sort-of-kind-of agreeing to their terms, to wait as long as they take and to accept their decision (or lack thereof).

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Beats the hell out of everyone dieing if you ask me.

    Yeah, or the whole world is gonna end. Maybe we should be searching those 8-year-old body cavities too.

    You know, some people used to throw children into volcanoes as sacrifices to keep the world from ending too. Maybe we should do that too? "Beats the hell out of everyone dieing if you ask me."

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, you have a choice. As a passenger you can either take full responsibility for our nations security or you can leave it up to the government.

    I have an idea: Rather than banning guns on airplanes, maybe passengers should be required to have them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps it would be better to simply ban passengers on airplanes. I think that would make us all alot safer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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