The TSA’s no-fly list is “worse than useless.”

That’s the conclusion of an AlterNet article about the TSA’s list of people who shouldn’t be allowed to board airplanes. From innocent people being added that have no means of getting their names removed to people who should be on the list but aren’t because authorities don’t want them to know they’re being watched, the list is just another bureaucratic nightmare that accomplishes nothing useful:

Journalists Susan and Joseph Tentro recently obtained a copy of the 44,000-name no-fly list and collaborated with CBS’s 60 Minutes to investigate the names on it. They found thousands of inaccuracies and ambiguities on the list, not to mention some shocking omissions.

“The airlines get a list that’s out of date,” Joe Tentro said. “The list includes dead people and people in prison, but not dangerous terrorists whose names appear on other public lists of terror suspects.”

Experts say it would take years for the TSA to verify every person on the list. New names are being added all the time. The TSA compiles its no-fly list from a variety of intelligence sources in different agencies, each of which has its own secret criteria for passing on names to the TSA.

Once a name finds its way into the database, there’s no way to get it out. Citizens can write to the TSA to protest and declare their innocence, but the best they can hope for is to be placed on a meta-list of people who have asked to be removed.

The net result is a no-fly list that is worse than useless. Many of the worst terrorists are kept off for security reasons, while innocent people are unable to clear their names. Far from keeping us safer, the TSA’s no-fly list has become a bureaucratic, terrorist and civil liberties threat in its own right.

Your tax dollars at work. Feel safer yet?

3 thoughts on “The TSA’s no-fly list is “worse than useless.”

  1. Looks like the TSA deserves a place on government sanctioned terrorist organizations somewhere below the IRS which already owns the number one position. Whereas the IRS strikes real terror in a citizen the inept TSA is a major irritant designed to inconvenience innocent flyers.

  2. As someone who has a common name on the No Fly list … well, I’ve managed to get around that by making sure that my middle initial shows up on all my flight reservations.  Because no terrorist would ever think of that!


    Anyway, anyone who’s worked with any sort of database can see all the godawful mistakes being made here (unvetted data with undefined criteria, no way to delete errors, overly vague data, insufficient resources to keep it cleaned up).  What a waste.

  3. Having worked for the TSA, I can safely say that they don’t think through a lot of policies before they’re enacted.

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