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?

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  • icon
    AdamR (profile), 14 Jan 2010 @ 7:03pm

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

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

    • icon
      Phillip (profile), 15 Jan 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...

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

  • icon
    Thomas (profile), 14 Jan 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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 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.

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

      • icon
        AdamR (profile), 14 Jan 2010 @ 8:51pm

        Re: Re:

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

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 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.

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

        • identicon
          Sajjon, 15 Jan 2010 @ 6:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

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

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 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."

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 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.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 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 chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 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 chronology ]

    • icon
      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 14 Jan 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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 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.

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

    • identicon
      Enrico Suarve, 15 Jan 2010 @ 1:52am

      Re:

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

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

  • identicon
    Freedom, 14 Jan 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

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

  • identicon
    Just Me, 14 Jan 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"

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

    • identicon
      CastorTroy-Libertarian, 15 Jan 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...

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

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 15 Jan 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....

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

    • icon
      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), 15 Jan 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.

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

      • identicon
        Beta, 15 Jan 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).

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

  • icon
    Overcast (profile), 15 Jan 2010 @ 1:09am

    "systemic" failure - of a failed system.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2010 @ 5:09am

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

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

  • identicon
    Beta, 15 Jan 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?

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 15 Jan 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
    ...

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

    • icon
      amfarbs (profile), 15 Jan 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!

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

      • icon
        AdamR (profile), 15 Jan 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.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 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 chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mikey likes it, 15 Jan 2010 @ 6:17am

    Maybe they like patting down 8 year olds

    I think that might be a perk of the job.

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

  • identicon
    Fritz, 15 Jan 2010 @ 6:42am

    TSA Watch List

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

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

  • icon
    william (profile), 15 Jan 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.

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


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