TSA List Woes Grow And Visa Games

Labeling tens of thousands of people who have been incorrectly deemed guilty until proven innocent because they happen to have the same name as “a suspected terrorist” and putting them on a No-Fly List that’s currently impossible to get off of isn’t enough for the Bush Administration…they also like to label critics of the Iraq war as terrorists. I thought McCarthyism died in the 1940’s.

Colorado’s 9News is reporting on more victims of The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) No-Fly List and how ineffective it is. Retired Major General Vernon Lewis, Jr., who served in two wars, was a Brigade Commander and still holds top-secret clearance keeps getting confused with a terrorist by the TSA.

After serving the U.S. Army for more than 30 years during Vietnam and Korea, being decorated four times for valor and receiving the Army’s highest medal for service — the Distinguished Service Medal — Lewis is understandably upset about being treated like a terrorist.

Three years ago Lewis started getting delayed at airports because he shares a name with a terrorist on the TSA No-Fly List, being delayed more than 40 times. Every time he’s delayed he has to stand in line and check in with an airline attendant who takes his drivers license and determines he’s not a terrorist.

Calling his Congressional representatives and taking part in the TSA’s Traveler Redress Program by mailing in his drivers license, passport, military ID and other information did not get him off the list, despite receiving a letter from the TSA back in May 2006 saying he’d been cleared off the list. The next time he tried to fly, he was stopped again.

Trick the No-Fly List

“It burns me up that they can’t correct it,” said Lewis. “You can’t tell me with the technology we’ve got today that the TSA can’t sort me and about 20, 30 or 40,000 other people just like me who are on that watch list and get harassed.”

Retired General Lewis was just one of dozens of people 9Wants to Know interviewed on the No-Fly list. 21 people named John Thompson, who share the same name as an IRA terrorist convicted in Belfast in 2002 for possessing weapons with the intent to commit a terrorist act, are also on the list.

John Thompson of Loveland, a computer room specialist, who has had trouble getting on airplanes several times, said “they had to bring out a supervisor to interview me and go over my paperwork and identification just to make sure I wasn’t the terrorist.”

He was told by a United Airlines agent to trick the No-Fly list by booking his tickets with his first name, middle initial and last name. Thompson does that now and no longer gets delayed.

“It doesn’t sound like a very safe system if that’s all it takes to trick it,” said Thompson. “With my middle initial, I’ve been able to get boarding passes online and I haven’t had to go through the secondary screening.”

When asked about the ability to get around the No-Fly list by using a middle name or middle initial on tickets the TSA did not respond.

In the past the TSA told 9Wants to Know that its Secure Flight program, expected to be released late next year, will fix problems with misidentifications. So far Secure Flight has cost taxpayers $200 million, but the program has been plagued with problems and is four years overdue.

People misidentified as terrorists are not actually on the list. Only the terrorist is on the No-Fly List. Because the TSA doesn’t always share dates of birth or other identifying information with the airlines, they can’t tell the difference until people check in and the airlines can look at their drivers licenses.

Iraq War Critic Denied Visa Due To ‘Terrorist Activity’

Adam Habib, a deputy vice chancellor at the University of Johannesburg, who has been a critic of the war in Iraq was denied a visa by the federal government because he “engaged in a terrorist activity,” according to a report from The Associated Press. Habib vehemently denies the accusation.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Boston, said authorities were letting his visa application languish because of his political views. An Oct. 26 letter from the State Department sent to Habib, released by the ACLU, formally denied his visa, citing terrorist activity as the reason.

The letter from the State Department offers no details of the alleged terrorist activity so the ACLU filed an amended lawsuit asking the State Department to substantiate its claim.

The State Department would not provide any details on why Habib’s visa was denied, citing a department policy against commenting on individual visa cases.

Habib lived in the U.S. during 1993-95 while earning a doctorate degree in political science from City University of New York. Habib traveled to the U.S. without any problems until October 2006 when he was questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials about his political views and was asked whether he belonged to or supported any terrorist organizations.

Links to More Information

Links to the above mentioned articles and more misadventures can be found below:

Decorated Army general delayed by TSA’s No-Fly list article from Colorado’s 9News

Feds accuse scholar of terror activity article from Yahoo! News and The Associated Press

The Unfriendly Skies article from MSN Travel:

“We screen our laptops, remove our shoes and pack our shampoo into tiny containers. But are all of these painstaking airport security measures really keeping us safe?

If you’re confused about what you can and can’t do at the airport these days, you’re not alone. The ever-changing rules about what’s allowed to fly have everyone but the most frequent travelers scratching their heads, repacking their bags and removing their belts and shoes. These restrictions not only cause lengthy delays at security checkpoints nationwide; they’ve turned air travel into a trial.”

Three-Tour Iraq Vet: ‘Our Troops Need To Come Home Now’ article and video from Think Progress

“I feel that if we continue on the path we’re at, that’s where we’re going to end up — in Iran. And that’s not what our troops need. Our troops need to come home now.

Jackson’s mother, who was standing next to her son at the event, went on to say that after she “finally got her son home” from Iraq, “members of the Bush administration and neoconservative members of Congress are beating the drums of war again.”

She said her son is still a member of the Marines Individual Ready Reserve and could be called up again. She concluded by asking the candidates, “How are you going to show us your leadership on this issue now?”

Neocon Attack on Ron Paul: Greasing the Skids for Implementation of H.R. 1955? article from TruthNews.us

Open Letter to CNN and Glenn Beck: Ron Paul Supporters are Not Terrorists article from Prison Planet:

Complete article has lots of good links:

“Dear Sirs,

CNN and Glenn Beck recently aired an inflammatory and misleading piece comparing Ron Paul supporters to terrorists. Mr. Beck’s irresponsible association has already led to impassioned responses from the large, peaceful and growing Ron Paul community, including a call to boycott CNN’s sponsors, and an eloquent response from a former US Marine.

I was heartened by the Marine’s response. I fully support and encourage the boycott efforts. With this letter, I am also urging everyone within the Ron Paul community to write directly to CNN, requesting that your network and Glenn Beck issue a retraction, clarification and an apologyto Ron Paul and the peaceful Ron Paul community for your wrongful and damaging characterization.”

Bush: Review of Judges Is Mean-Spirited article from The Associated Press:

“WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush said Thursday the way the Senate reviews his picks for the federal bench has become so partisan and mean-spirited that qualified candidates decline because they don’t want to go through a confirmation hearing.

The hearings too often turn into “search and destroy” missions that ruin a person’s reputation, Bush said in a speech to hundreds attending the 25th anniversary gala of The Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

“When the wife of a distinguished jurist proudly attends his hearing and is brought to tears by ugly and unfounded insinuations that her husband is secretly is a bigot, we lose something,” Bush said.

Bush was referring to the confirmation hearing of Justice Samuel Alito in January 2006 when his wife, Martha-Ann Bomgardner, left in tears after withering questions from Judiciary Committee Democrats.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, said Bush’s rhetoric was strong considering there still was hope for getting some nominees confirmed during the final year of Bush’s presidency.

“A war of words is not productive,” Specter said in a telephone interview.”

Notice where McCarthy, err, Bush was giving his speech…The Federalist Society, a legal “conservative” group, whose membership includes one of the Supreme Court Justices responsible for shoving Bush down Americas throat in lieu of the 2000 “presidential election.” A few of the judges in the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals are also members of The Federalist Society.

Well boo hoo Mr. President, if the judges you nominated weren’t primarily bigots, racists and politically motivated with questionable character traits that use and abuse their powers to justify or cover your illicit activities instead of administering the letter of the laws as they’re sworn to do, you wouldn’t have to worry about it. Quit crying about the Congress and trying to make everyone else look bad. Your hypocrisy is getting old.

Alito backed immunity in wiretap case article from the Boston Globe:

Ruling Blocks Challenge to Wiretapping article from The New York Times:

Another argument for why president’s shouldn’t be able to appoint Federal Judges since the vast majority of them end up in the presidents pocket. It’s time to take a long hard look at “state secrets” when used to block blatantly illegal activities by the White House:

“WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 – A federal appeals court said today that secrecy laws forced it to exclude critical evidence about the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program from being used by an Islamic charity in a lawsuit even though the mere existence of the program could no longer be considered a “state secret.”

The complex ruling was a victory for the Bush administration and signaled trouble for civil rights groups that are trying to show that the eavesdropping program was unconstitutional and to hold telecommunications companies liable for carrying it out.

The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a charity in Oregon, had perhaps the best evidence of anyone that it had been a target of the wiretapping program, based on a top secret document mistakenly given to the group in 2004.”

Self-satire scales new heights article from Salon News:

“It’s genuinely hard to believe that the writers of George Bush’s speech last night to the Federalist Society weren’t knowingly satirizing him. They actually had him say this:

When the Founders drafted the Constitution, they had a clear understanding of tyranny. They also had a clear idea about how to prevent it from ever taking root in America. Their solution was to separate the government’s powers into three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Each of these branches plays a vital role in our free society. Each serves as a check on the others. And to preserve our liberty, each must meet its responsibilities — and resist the temptation to encroach on the powers the Constitution accords to others.

Then they went even further and this came out:

The President’s oath of office commits him to do his best to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” I take these words seriously. I believe these words mean what they say.

To top it all off — by which point they must have been cackling uncontrollably — they had him say this:

Others take a different view. . . . They forgot that our Constitution lives because we respect it enough to adhere to its words. (Applause.) Ours is the oldest written Constitution in the world. It is the foundation of America’s experiment in self-government. And it will continue to live only so long as we continue to recognize its wisdom and division of authority.”

Indictment, Lawsuit Cloud Presidential Hopes of Ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani article from Democracy Now

Britney Lost Her Panties … and Now She May Lose Her Shirt article from FOXNews:

It’s Treason: Dems Stay Silent on Bush White House Crimes article from AlterNet:

“Lying to the people and the Congress was the most despicable violation of the rule of law by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, but many more followed.

The mainstream Democrats — represented, say, by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and Christopher Dodd — have not levied war against the United States. Their treason lies instead in committing the second offense: They adhere to enemies of the country, giving them aid and comfort.

The enemies are President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. Like no other president and vice president in history, these men attacked their country.

It was not our geography George Bush and Richard Cheney invaded. Instead they abandoned and subverted the bedrock institution of our constitutional democracy: the rule of law. By word and deed, Mr. Bush repeatedly and arrogantly sets himself above the law, claiming obedience to be a matter of presidential choice. Mr. Cheney orchestrates, coaches, applauds and iterates.”

The Evangelical Christian Takeover of the Military article from AlterNet:

“Retired Air Force Col. David Antoon investigates proselytizing within the military, where religious ideology threatens to supersede the values of the Constitution.

“I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  …”
–Oath of Office

“Our mission is to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.”
–Air Force Academy mission statement

“We will not lie, steal, or cheat. …”
–Air Force Academy honor code

“Military professionals must remember that religious choice is a matter of individual conscience. Professionals, and especially commanders, must not take it upon themselves to change or coercively influence the religious views of subordinates.”
–Religious Toleration (Air Force Code of Ethics, 1997)

Let Them In: Bush’s outrageous neglect of Iraqi refugees article from Slate News – (including those that helped the U.S.)

US power company linked to Bush is named in database as a top polluter article from the Independent UK:

“An American power company with close financial links to President George Bush has been named as one of the world’s top producers of global warming pollution.

The first-ever worldwide database of such pollution also reveals the rapid growth in global-warming emissions by power plants in China, South Africa and India. Power plants already produce 40 per cent of US greenhouse gas and 25 per cent of the world’s.

But it is the enormous carbon footprint of Southern Company – among the largest financiers of Republican Party politicians – which has raised eyebrows. Southern’s employees handed George Bush $217,047 to help him get elected, and they and the company have contributed an extraordinary $6.2m to Republican campaigns since 1990.

A single Southern Company plant in Juliette, Georgia already emits more carbon dioxide annually that Brazil’s entire power sector. The company is in the top two of America’s dirtiest utility polluters and sixth worst in the world.

Apart from vague promises by the Democratic presidential hopefuls, there is no pressure on this or any other power company to clean up their act and cut back on CO2 emissions.”

Terror police ‘shot’ man in coma article from BBC News:

“A man who had gone into a diabetic coma on a bus in Leeds was shot twice with a Taser gun by police who feared he may have been a security threat.

Mr Gaubert said he was on his way to meet friends when he suffered a fit on the bus and slipped into a coma which left him slumped on his seat clutching his rucksack.

Armed police were called to the bus depot in Headingley and when he failed to respond to their challenges he was shot with the Taser.

He said as this was happening, another officer was pointing a real gun at his head.

He was restrained and eventually came round in the police van.

He said it was only then that the officers realised it was a medical emergency, despite him wearing a medical tag round his neck to warn of his condition, and took him to hospital.

Mr Gaubert said he was told the police believed he looked “Egyptian.”

Army desertion up 80 percent since Iraq war article from MSNBC News:

“WASHINGTON – Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

While the totals are still far lower than they were during the Vietnam war, when the draft was in effect, they show a steady increase over the past four years and a 42 percent jump since last year.

According to the Army, about nine in every 1,000 soldiers deserted in fiscal year 2007, which ended Sept. 30, compared to nearly seven per 1,000 a year earlier. Overall, 4,698 soldiers deserted this year, compared to 3,301 last year.”

Breaking: Reid shut downs Bush recess appointments during Thanksgiving article from Americablog:

“Now who’s relevant? A statement from Senator Harry Reid (and more background on this issue here):

The Senate will be coming in for pro-forma sessions during the Thanksgiving holiday to prevent recess appointments.

My hope is that this will prompt the President to see that it is our mutual interests for the nominations process to get back on track.”

Talking Points Memo – Grand Jury Probing HUD Chief’s Statements article from TPMmuckraker:

“In case you haven’t heard it enough times, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. Or in this case, the lesson is not to make sweeping statements under oath that can be easily debunked. And for that, you can thank Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary Alphonso Jackson.

After Jackson boasted to an audience that he didn’t give contracts to critics of the President, the department’s inspector general and Congress pounced. Jackson, eager to clear his name, proclaimed, “I don’t touch contracts.”

Unfortunately, that appears not to be true, as the National Journal first reported last month. Now a grand jury is digging deep into Jackson’s help for his friends:”

It’s exceedingly pathetic how deep the corruption and incompetence runs in the Bush administration.

Talking Points Memo – DOJ Has Criminal Probe Into Baghdad Embassy Contract article from TPMmuckraker

Boeing spying on workers article from Americablog:

“Anyway, the Seattle PI has done some great reports on Boeing including whistle-blowers who have felt the full wrath of Boeing. The latest is a report on spying efforts on employees including reading personal emails and videotaping employees outside of the office. Part of the problem in Washington is that there are few laws available that protect employees and whistle-blowers.

Within its bowels, The Boeing Co. holds volumes of proprietary information deemed so valuable that the company has entire teams dedicated to making sure that private information stays private.

One such team, dubbed “enterprise” investigators, has permission to read the private e-mails of employees, follow them and collect video footage or photos of them. Investigators can also secretly watch employee computer screens in real time and reproduce every keystroke a worker makes, the Seattle P-I has learned.”

Catholic Bishops: Be careful how you vote or you’re going to hell forever article from Americablog:

“Actually, there’s an aspect to this that the bishops should be lauded for: Telling their parishioners to pay attention to other moral issues as well, such as immigration, just war and poverty – not exactly issues the Republicans excel at. From the Chicago Trib:

Bishops have drafted a similar document every four years since the 1976 presidential election, when concerns centered on Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe and recovery from the Watergate scandal. But the guidelines issued Wednesday for the first time spelled out possible consequences as well as giving much more nuanced instruction to the Catholic electorate than in years past.

Voters are implored not to support abortion-rights political candidates but also advised that views on abortion should not be the sole factor. Catholics should also weigh church teaching on such moral issues as immigration, just war and poverty, bishops said.”

The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future article from Democracy Now

Bush is trying to set up OpEdNews as a “terrorist recruiter” article from OpEdNews

Bush Death Watch: Countdown! It’s official: Less than one year until history slaps Dubya to the curb. Can you feel the tingle? article from SFGate.com:

“It’s just that kind of feeling, that sense of hesitant, embryonic optimism, the sense that says, oh my God, we as a culture and a smash-mouthed, war-hammered society really are fast approaching something possibly, potentially, heart-achingly new and different and – because it cannot get any worse – just a little bit better.

What’s more, the glorious collapse of the evangelical Christian right marches on apace, as Pat Robertson, now a dejected, lonely widower after the death of secret boy-toy husband Jerry Falwell, has officially endorsed pro-choice, pro-gay, thrice-married, massively unbalanced moral pit bull Rudy Giuliani for president, which is a bit like a militant vegan endorsing Hot Dog on a Stick for the title of Lord of the Food Court. Desperate times indeed.

But wait, it gets better. While it’s easy to focus on Shrub and Cheney and to gleefully, achingly imagine their dreary march out of office on that happy day, it is also vital and heartwarming to note that this time next year will also mark the demise of an entire army of toxic leaders, federal department heads, gay-bashing appointees and misogynist directors of every stripe and scandal and spittle, a simply huge array of right-wing Bushies who are still entrenched in all manner of powerful federal bureaus and organizations and policy-making bodies.

Oh, and one more deserves special attention. Because one year from now will also be the glorious political end of one Dr. David W. Hager, the rabid evangelical Christian gynecologist (I know, so wrong) who currently advises the FDA on women’s health issues and who was largely responsible for delaying the approval of Plan B, opposed RU-486, is in fact against all contraception, stem-cell research, premarital sex, and (quite naturally) women’s choice, and whose own ex-wife claims he anally raped her, over and over again, in her sleep.”

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