Homeland InSecurity

Homeland insecurity

Desperate for desperados

Dale, on no-fly list
The Department of Homeland Insecurity doesn't want this man to fly

Friends Alan and Dale are in town again, and I met them for a late lunch at More Than A Mouthful. More Than A Mouthful Well, actually, they had lunch — I had coffee and dessert, having already eaten by the time they called.

The big story of the day — after the really important one about participating in filming at MTAM for a TV show on the Travel Channel — was that when they went to the airport for their flight to Ontario, Dale's name mysteriously did not appear on the list of ticketed passengers for the flight. When the problem was escalated to a supervisor, it turned out that since their last flight south, Dale has been added to the Department of Homeland Insecurity's no-fly list!

And, in the all-terror, all-the-time, "9/11 changed everything" world we live in, no one is allowed to say why he is on the list, only that he can submit a sheaf of paperwork to request that his name be removed.

I wish him good luck. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) revealed that he, himself, had been denied boarding several times because his name (or one similar to it) is on the list and that it took several weeks of diligent effort to get his name removed. But then, one suspects that Tom Delay's name, had it been on the list, would have been removed instantly.

There was also the much publicized case of Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, who was summarily taken off a flight and deported back to Britain as a result of a similar name on the list. Perhaps the folks at Homeland InSecurity were protecting us against the possibility that Yusuf Islam might re-release Moonshadow.

But here's where it gets scary: Even knowing that Dale is on the no-fly list, the supervisor let him board the plane anyway!

There are so many problems with the no-fly list it's hard to know where to begin: Names are hardly unique identifiers. Only an incredibly stupid terrorist would use his own name in the first place, and it should be obvious that terrorist are anything but stupid. The way names get on the list seems fraught with the possibility — make that likelihood — of abuse and error. One could go on.

The response to the terrorist attacks on the US on 9/11/2001 has been so irrational, so uneven, so excessive and simultaneously inadequate, that the US is very little safer today from terrorist attack than it was three years ago. While people line up at airports to take off their shoes, nuclear reactors and chemical plants remain guarded by rent-a-cops and chain-link fence. Our ports are porous. Even outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson marveled that our food supply hasn't been attacked.

And airline supervisors ignore the no-fly list. Mind you, I'm happy that Dale was able to fly, and I pity him for the repeated hassles he will doubtless endure over the next weeks and months and — who knows? — years.

Dale fondling Marilyn

Wait a minute! Now I know why Dale was put on the list of desperados. One of the puritanical fundamentalists must have seen the picture I posted of Dale with his hand inserted between Marilyn Monroe's thighs.