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September 16, 2004

Feeling safer yet?
Posted by Teresa at 12:00 PM * 77 comments

The latest issue of Crypto-Gram (subscribe/archives), Bruce Schneier’s monthly newsletter about security issues, discusses the U.S. government’s new Trusted Traveler program:

If you fly out of Logan Airport and don’t want to take off your shoes for the security screeners and get your bags opened up, pay attention. The U.S. government is testing its “Trusted Traveler” program, and Logan is the fourth test airport. Currently only American Airlines frequent fliers are eligible, but if all goes well the program will be opened up to more people and more airports.

Participants provide their name, address, phone number, and birth date, a set of fingerprints, and a retinal scan. That information is matched against law enforcement and intelligence databases. If the applicant is not on any terrorist watch list, and is otherwise an upstanding citizen, he gets a card that allows him access to a special security lane. The lane doesn’t bypass the metal detector or X-ray machine for carry-on bags, but avoids more intensive secondary screening unless there’s an alarm of some kind.

Unfortunately, this program won’t make us more secure. Some terrorists will be able to get Trusted Traveler cards, and they’ll know in advance that they’ll be subjected to less-stringent security.
True. If we could spot terrorists in advance, we wouldn’t be going through these gyrations in the first place. And even if the Trusted Traveler program guaranteed absolute identification of its cardholders—which I sincerely doubt—if the person in question hasn’t previously been identified as a terrorist, all it can do is tell you afterward who the guy was who took down the plane. Besides, Trusted Traveler cards can only be as secure as the other ID the bearer uses to prove that he or she is the cardholder. Anyone can buy a forged driver’s license or passport. Any proof of identification that doesn’t involve permanent visible body mods can be hacked.
Since 9/11, airport security has been subjecting people to special screening: sometimes randomly, and sometimes based on profile criteria as analyzed by computer. For example, people who buy one-way tickets, or pay with cash, are more likely to be flagged for this extra screening.

Sometimes the results are bizarre. Screeners have searched children and people in wheelchairs. In 2002, Al Gore was randomly stopped and searched twice in one week. And just last month, Senator Ted Kennedy was flagged—and denied boarding—because the computer decided he was on some “no fly” list.

Why waste precious time making Grandma Lillie from Worchester empty her purse, when you can search the carry-on items of Anwar, a twenty-six-year-old who arrived last month from Egypt and is traveling without luggage?

The reason is security. Imagine you’re a terrorist plotter with half a dozen potential terrorists at your disposal. They all apply for a card, and three get one. Guess which three are going on the mission? And they’ll buy round-trip tickets with credit cards, and have a “normal” amount of luggage with them.

What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security. The intent is that only good guys will take the low-security path, and the bad guys will be forced to take the high-security path, but it rarely works out that way. You have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to take the low-security path.

The Trusted Traveler program is based on the dangerous myth that terrorists match a particular profile, and that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we only can identify everyone. That’s simply not true. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown, and not on any watch list. Timothy McVeigh was an upstanding U.S. citizen before he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel are normal, nondescript people. Intelligence reports indicate that al Qaeda is recruiting non-Arab terrorists for U.S. operations. Airport security is best served by intelligent guards watching for suspicious behavior, and not dumb guards blindly following the results of a Trusted Traveler program.
Bruce goes on to point out that frequent fliers and first-class passengers already have access to special lanes that bypass long lines at security checkpoints, and that the computers never seem to flag them for special screening. Thus, he says, “The people who could use the card don’t need one, and infrequent travelers are unlikely to take the trouble—or pay the fee—to get one.” Personally, I’m wondering whether the “Trusted Traveler” program is actually an attempt to salvage the “no fly” lists. They’ve been coming in for a lot of criticism. You may have heard about them when Ted Kennedy raised the issue:
U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy said Thursday [19 August] that he has been repeatedly misidentified on a terrorism watch list when he tried to board airliners between Washington and Boston.

The well-known Massachusetts Democrat was stopped five times as he tried to board US Airways shuttles because a name similar to his appeared on a list or his name popped up for additional screening.

“If they have that kind of difficulty with a member of Congress, how in the world are average Americans, who are getting caught up in this thing, how are they going to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?” Kennedy asked Homeland Security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson. …

Kennedy said he was stopped at airports in Washington and Boston three times in March. Airline agents told him he would not be sold a ticket because his name was on a list.

When he asked the agent why, he was told: “We can’t tell you.”
“Trusted Traveler” cards would be a cosmetic non-fix for a seriously broken security system. Here’s the ACLU’s page about no-fly lists. Bruce Schneier’s been on this one too:
Imagine a list of suspected terrorists so dangerous that we can’t ever let them fly, yet so innocent that we can’t arrest them—even under the draconian provisions of the Patriot Act.

This is the federal government’s “no-fly” list. First circulated in the weeks after 9/11 as a counterterrorism tool, its details are shrouded in secrecy. But because the list is filled with inaccuracies and ambiguities, thousands of innocent, law-abiding Americans have been subjected to lengthy interrogations and invasive searches every time they fly, and sometimes forbidden to board airplanes.

It also has been a complete failure, and has not been responsible for a single terrorist arrest anywhere. Instead, the list has snared Asif Iqbal, a Rochester businessman who shares a name with a suspected terrorist currently in custody in Guantanamo. It’s snared a 71-year-old retired English teacher. A man with a top-secret government clearance. A woman whose name is similar to that of an Australian man 20 years younger. Anyone with the name David Nelson is on the list. And recently it snared Sen. Ted Kennedy, who had the unfortunate luck to share a name with “T Kennedy,” an alias once used by a person someone decided should be on the list.

There is no recourse for those on the list, and their stories quickly take on a Kafkaesque tone. People can be put on the list for any reason; no standards exist. There’s no ability to review any evidence against you, or even confirm that you are actually on the list.

And, for most people, there’s no way to get off the list or to “prove” once and for all that they’re not whoever the list is really looking for. It took Kennedy three weeks to get his name off the list. People without his political pull have spent years futilely trying to clear their names.

There’s something distinctly un-American about a secret government blacklist, with no right of appeal or judicial review. Even worse, there’s evidence that it’s being used as a political harassment tool: environmental activists, peace protesters, and anti-free-trade activists have all found themselves on the list.

But security is always a trade-off, and some might make the reasonable argument that these kinds of civil- liberty abuses are required if we are to successfully fight terrorism in our country. The problem is that the no-fly list doesn’t protect us from terrorism. …

Any watch list where it’s easy to put names on and difficult to take names off will quickly fill with false positives. These false positives eventually overwhelm any real information on the list, and soon the list does no more than flag innocents—which is what we see happening today, and why the list hasn’t resulted in any arrests.

A quick search through an Internet phone book shows 3,400 T Kennedys living in the United States. Adding “T Kennedy” to the no-fly list is irresponsible, especially since it was known to be an alias.
One has to assume that all those other T Kennedys have been getting bumped off flights, too, along with everyone else whose name resembles a name on the list. But now, from the Washington Post via the Contra Costa Times, we have good news and bad news for the victims of no-fly lists. The good news is that travelers have found an easier way to get off the list. The bad news is that their method works at all:
For more than a year and a half, Rep. John Lewis has endured lengthy delays at the ticket counter, intense questioning by airline employees and suspicious glances by fellow passengers. Airport security guards have combed through his luggage as he stood in front of his constituents at the Atlanta airport. An airline employee has paged him on board a flight for further questioning, he said. On at least 35 occasions, the Georgia Democrat said, he was treated like a criminal because his name, like that of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., appeared on a government terrorist watch list.

While Kennedy managed to get security officials to end his airline hassles after three weeks of trying, Lewis had no luck for months. Then he found his own way around the security mess. Lewis added his middle initial to his name when making his airline reservations. The computer system apparently didn’t flag tickets for “Rep. John R. Lewis,” and the hassles suddenly ended.

“The ‘R’ is the only thing that has been saving me,” Lewis said from Atlanta Friday.
That is, we’ve been letting innocent travelers be seriously hassled and inconvenienced, which in some cases will have amounted to denying them the right to travel altogether, by a system so unsophisticated and poorly designed that it can be stymied by changing one letter in your name. It’s about as effective as those plastic owls people put up on their roofs to scare away pigeons.
Hundreds of passengers—possibly thousands—have contacted the Transportation Security Administration complaining that the government’s secret watch lists are unfairly targeting innocent travelers and causing travel headaches. Just last month, more than 250 passengers sought to be removed from the list. But even more disconcerting, some of these travelers and security experts say, is that the system can be easily circumvented by a simple adjustment to one’s name. …

Some passengers who were told that their names matched others on the watch lists said they have been tipped off by airline employees who were embarrassed and apologetic about having to delay them when the passengers were known to the employees. …

The TSA said that last month, 258 passengers filled out forms requesting to be removed from the government’s watch lists. It said it could not say how many to date have made similar requests or actually ended list-related hassles.

Once a passenger submits additional identification such as a birth certificate or passport to the agency, the TSA sends updated information to the airline and a verification letter to the passenger.

The TSA warns, however, that even when a traveler arrives at the airport with the letter, delays may still occur.

Rep. Lewis said that he filled out the form and received a letter from TSA that verifies his identity but that he doesn’t want to use it. “I’m not sure why I would have to go around carrying something like a pass,” said the congressman, who is known for his civil rights record. “It reminds me of South Africa.”
I’ll say this for the airline employees: They may be circumventing a security system, but they’re doing it because they remember what the system was supposed to do.

For some time now, I’ve been collecting stories about stupid security measures. What I find creepiest about these stories is that in most cases, the people enforcing the measures clearly don’t believe that the people they’re harassing are terrorists or potential terrorists, or that the security measures will actually stave off terrorist acts—but they’re enthusiastically enforcing them anyway.

Comments on Feeling safer yet?:
#1 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 05:43 PM:

I'm on a list.

This became obvious last Christmas, when the airline staff member at the check-in counter swiped my passport through the reader as part of the check-in process - and didn't quite manage to hide her reaction to what she read on her monitor. But I'd already decided that I was on a list, because I'd been picked for the "random" extra security search every single time I'd passed through a US airport in the previous year or two.

But only US airports. Apparently they're either not sharing that list with other governments, or other governments think the list is a useless waste of time.

(Now wondering whether I've got myself bumped up to a higher priority "make trouble for troublemakers" list...)

#2 ::: Larry Brennan w/a tech comment ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 06:02 PM:

Umm, all of the offsite links in this entry are kind of glorbled up (yes, that's a technical term) as follows : http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/”http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/world/9466229.htm?1c”

Maybe MT is messing something up. Similar thing happened in one of JVP's comments in Open Thread 28.

#3 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 06:21 PM:

I went and read Schneier's newsletter, which was cogent as always. Up front, he shills his new book, Beyond Fear and suggests buying it from Overstock.com or Amazon.com. This reminds me of several years ago, when I bought a copy of his Applied Cryptography through Amazon and their correlation engine immediately pegged me as some sort of survavilist. My recommendation page was full of conspiracy theory books on Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing. Not to mention all the anarchist stuff.

I wonder if buying his book would get you on a no-fly list. Not that I would discourage anyone from doing so, I'd just suggest buying it in person, with cash, and without using your frequent buyer's club card. ;-)

#4 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 06:47 PM:

The other way to skip the long security lines is to be in a wheelchair. Usually the pusher takes me through a parallel door to where I'm on the side of the x-ray machine, and then they ask if I can stand, and use a wand.

#5 ::: JoshD ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Larry: Well, for whatever it's worth, I bought Beyond Fear via Amazon last year, and have successfully flown internationally and domestically since.

It's a scary turn we've come to, though, when you can legitimately worry about what books you buy in this country. And sadly, not the first time I've heard that said or thought it myself.

#6 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 07:08 PM:

Everytime I fly, I think of the line in Fight Club (the movie--haven't read the book yet) where Brad Pitt's character shows Edward Norton's character the little pamphlet in every seat back, and tells him it's all about the illusion of safety.

"Calm as Hindu cows."

#7 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 07:31 PM:

Our hostess notes:
"What I find creepiest about these stories is that in most cases, the people enforcing the measures clearly don?t believe that the people they?re harassing are terrorists or potential terrorists, or that the security measures will actually stave off terrorist acts?but they?re enthusiastically enforcing them anyway."

Well, it's possible that we're dealing with people who have tasted a little power for once in their lives and are drunk with the possibilities to get even for every slight and wrong they've ever suffered, real or imaginary. In fact, it's more than likely that quite a few fall into this group. However, I suspect others [especially the regular airline employees] have decided that the procedures are every bit as stupid and fallible as we think they are, and are enforcing them to the letter and beyond, in the hope that enough people will complain, and things will get changed. If they've been able to catch the attention of congressmen and senators with this ploy, they're succeeding. I may be too optimistic; it's easy to see how the security jobs would attract petty assholes looking for a chance to play the bully and get a paycheck, few of whom are bright enough to consider whether these policies are productive or not.


#8 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 08:10 PM:

On this topic of stupid security, the list at librarian.net: Five Technically Legal Signs for your Library. My preference -

The FBI has not been here
(watch very closely for the dissappearance of this sign)

#9 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 09:05 PM:

We watched, the day after the Boskone blizzard of 2002, during the massive line at Logan Airport, William Tenn, a man in a wheelchair because he couldn't stand for the 2 hours the rest of us did in line for re-ticketing, be forced to walk through a metal detector at least three times. He's kind of a slow walker anyway, and he had trouble going through the metal detector without his cane...

#10 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 11:48 PM:

Not my own story which I won't bore you with but one for the collection from an area some folks here may have missed:
I'm at the airport fairly regularly, dressed to blend in here in West Texas (BDU and a M9 in a flap holster), since my base requires weapons custodians to "escort" deploying weapons (they don't care much about the NCO's and Airmen, but they worry about the poor widdle weapons, but that is another story).

So there I am, two weeks ago, standing in front of the ticket counter with the poor deploying senior NCO and her locked Pelican case complete with M16A2. The counter boy announces to her that she will have to unlock the gun case and send it to the back for "inspection." Normally, I fill in for the passenger and escort the case to the back and unlock it, then relock it after it has been 'checked' (for cooties, I suspect, but I digress). However, Counter Boy announced that NEITHER of us were allowed to accompany the gun, and that the case MUST be unlocked.

Well, I didn't get an arm full of stripes by being unprepared to do deal with ignorance, apathy, and general ill will (I've been stationed on Navy bases, after all). I had issued my traveler my "Flying With Guns FAQ", which...oddly enough...has printouts of all the applicable regulations. The same ones that My Hero Jeff OTMG referenced in this very thread.

Counter Boy didn't believe the printouts, and had to get his supervisor. Wow. Double the ignorance, double the fun. After Counter Boy told me to "quit arguing", and I informed him that I was stating facts, not arguing...since arguing with an idiot just annoys you and confuses the idiot (that one made a cute 'whoosh' noise as it went over Counter Boy's pointy head, although his boss wasn't amused)...things got more interesting.

Counter Boy finally ran off and found the head TSA agent assigned to the spacious San Angelo Hair Care, Tire Sales, Chinese Restaurant, and Airport. Said agent read the regulations, announced that "...my regulations are classified" (which amused me, since I had his regs printed out, and carry a higher security clearance than most folks know even exist), and then said that "...no case would be locked in MY airport."

I, in my polite and calm fashion, honed from years of dealing with Airman...and Marines...offered to show him the Hooked on Phonics section the local library...and further offered to help him sound out the larger words as he worked through the lessons.

"Whoosh"

And this level of ignorance is when dealing with a uniformed and armed member of the citizenry. I shudder to think how they abuse citizens on a regular basis.

FWIW, I was finally allowed to carry the case back to the inspection section, unlock it for inspection, and relock it afterwards. Which I had done eight times in the last six weeks...at that same Airport. Note to travelers: don't even bother locking the cheap gun cases with the integral locks. At the San Angelo Tire Ca...well, you know what it is...Airport, one of the TSA agents has his own personal set of keys that will open most standard cases. He thinks it is funny that folks rely on standard locks. If a guy at an airport this small has keys like that, I suspect that every airport on the face of the planet is the same way or worse...

Alex

#11 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 01:14 AM:

Laurie, I've only been to the Northwest airport in Mpls and Dulles since I've been sick, and I got every indication that if I had said I couldn't stand, they would have searched with hands. I don't actually need the wheelchair for going through security (although I would if the line was more than 15 minutes long), but they're both big airports and I can't walk that far. Once they did have me stand up on the kind of mat that goes beneath the metal detector, and the spines were so high and bendy that I had to sit right back down (or fall down). The pusher was trying to catch me when I managed to sit in the chair.

#12 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 01:53 AM:

Oh yes. I may or may not have mentioned that I had an interesting chat with the security guy in Belfast City Airport as he was politely and efficiently taking my cabin bag apart and putting it back together again. He'd recently been on an X-ray training course that included a number of US students. He was underwhelmed by them. I can't remember exactly what he said, but I'd probably get disemvowelled if I repeated it word for word (and if Teresa actually understood it, since there was a certain amount of dialect involved:-).

#13 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 03:12 AM:

I have a cousin who is a 5th degree Black Belt in traditional Japanese sword (Iaido). He own several museum-quality swords, and is friends with the swordmaker to the Emperor. So when he travels to and from sword shows, he carries them in a special black case marked as containing weapons, through airports.

On one recent trip, a security guard asked him: "are they loaded?"

"They are swords, not guns," said my cousin.

"Okay, but are they loaded?"

This went on in a "Who's On First" way for several rounds. Finally my cousin gritted his teeth and said "No, they're not loaded."

"That's all I needed to know," said the guard, and waved him through.

Feeling safer yet?

#14 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 03:46 AM:

I have a new knee, titanium and plastic. I set off alarms at airports. I also have a green card that explains all this. They refuse to look at the card (I guess I would, too, as it's the sort of thing even a terrorist would refuse to carry, it's so lame) and wand me. I explain EVERY TIME that I have a titanium rod in my knee. They wand me all over and explain EVERY TIME "Gee, it's just your knee."

But at least the wand picks up the titanium!

Jane

#15 ::: natasha ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 03:53 AM:

"Well, it's possible that we're dealing with people who have tasted a little power for once in their lives and are drunk with the possibilities to get even for every slight and wrong they've ever suffered, real or imaginary."

I've definitely noticed this. The real short fuses and control-freaks now have the cover of national security to pursue their quest to hold unspeakable power and threat over someone else.

Most of them are nice enough I guess, but the outliers now seem to make no effort. It almost takes the edge off my sympathy for near industry-wide job losses and pay cuts. If I'm not alone in this, maybe the industry should consider that in addition to being scared and broke, people may not be flying as much because they know there's no recourse if they get stuck with the most insufferable of customer 'service' at random.

#16 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 03:54 AM:

On blindly following regulations despite not believing in them:

How many cops enforce laws they disagree with? (Hell, it's a requirement of the job that they do so)

How many jurors convict on laws they think are unjust? (Again, they're frequently told it's a requirement that they do so, although it is patently not)

How many people obey laws they don't agree with, or oppose (f'r example) recreational drug use, simply on the grounds that "it's illegal"? (I've run into many of these, who don't see anything morally or socially wrong with smoking a joint, but still think it's wrong to do it simply because of the illegality of it)

Most people will obey even utterly ridiculous laws simply because they exist, and because they have some sort of knee-jerk trust in/obedience to authority that compels them to accept all sorts of things they would never go for under normal circumstances.

#17 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:19 AM:

Ya know, as much as I like the sentiment in the Crypto-Gram article, the most memorable part of the post for me is where he spells "Worcester" with an "h". Yet another example of why spelling counts.

#18 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:26 AM:

Here are my recent adventures with airport security
http://marykay.typepad.com/gallimaufry/2004/05/warning.html

http://marykay.typepad.com/gallimaufry/2004/07/its_gotten_even.html

As you know, Bob, we travel a lot. A Lot. Every time I go through security something is different; something has changed. It's also different at different airports. Apparently not all of them get identical information/instructions. I never know what it's going to be like except that it will be unpleasant. It raises my blood pressure every single time. I've finally figured out ways to avoid setting off the metal detectors, but I resent having to choose which shoes and which bra I put on based on whether I'm flying that day.

And yeah, they do indulge themselves in power trips. See my stories.

MKK

#19 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 12:06 PM:

I've had the ... pleasure ... of being pulled aside for secondary inspection in three countries. In two of the countries, I was politely moved to one side with minimal fuss, with my belongings with me and in sight the entire time, checked over politely, quickly, and sent on my way.

The third country was a rather different experience. I was screamed at [in a language that resembled english], told that I couldn't keep in contact [even visual] with my belongings, underwent a variety of inappropriate comments, and was told that it was "for my own good" - and delayed significantly.

I have had good experiences in the third country - but they've been badly coloured by the less than stellar happenings.

I do empathize with MKK about chosing what to wear - I travel in business casual these days, and it's dramatically reduced the number of times that I'm pulled over for secondary search.

#20 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 12:58 PM:

Since I've worked part time as a paralegal for many years, I often file briefs and other documents in Superior Court, Appellate Court, California Supreme Court, and a federal building.

The searches have become longer and more detailed. At one point, while waiting on a long line (the lines have become longer) someone suggested to me that I was being profiled because of a long beard, which he said was reminiscent of Bin Laden. [footnote: David Letterman suggested that Bin Laden would make a good President of the United States, because then we would have a President who knew where Bin Laden was]. So I shaved off my beard. For a while, the searches became shorter.

Later, my beard partially regrown vandykishly, I was on one of those long lines, and chatted with the attorney behind me. "They stop you so often because of the metal detectors," he said. "It's the silver in your hair."

#21 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Bingo!
"What I find creepiest about these stories is that in most cases, the people enforcing the measures clearly don’t believe that the people they’re harassing are terrorists or potential terrorists, or that the security measures will actually stave off terrorist acts—but they’re enthusiastically enforcing them anyway."

This is the kind of culture that can slide into doing torture just because someone is in jail. The more sadistic cousins of these creeps man the worst of the jails. All foreigners, moreover, are guilty by reason of extraterritoriality.

#22 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 01:23 PM:

JVP - I have a friend who's afraid that he'll be hassled when flying if he's not freshly shaven. And he continually wonders how I can uniformly breeze through airport security, despite the beard that I've had since I was 16. He really thinks that profiling has gone that far. And, even more unfortunately, he thinks it's mostly a good idea.

FWIW, the only time I've had an issue with airport security was the time I accidentally took my car mug with me on a business trip to Seattle. It's one of those stainless-steel cylinders. I didn't check my bags, and discovered it in my backpack when I got to my hotel.

On the way home, the security people at Sea-Tac absolutely flipped out when they saw it in the x-ray. They made me take it out of my bag, but then curiously wouldn't let me open it to show them that all it contained was a couple of paper towels I had stuffed into it after I rinsed it.

We wound up adjourning to a small room, where I had an unpleasant discussion with a very angry uniformed woman. I let her scream at me and threaten to subject me to a strip search and bar me from flying for life for about fifteen minutes, and then was allowed to go on my way.

No problems at Sea-Tac or anywhere else (here or abroad) since.

Yep. Petty tyrants. But mostly smiling and making small talk seems to get me through security unhassled.

Well, thinking back, when I was 13 or so, I flew to Florida with a big bag of Brooklyn bagels and bialys. The X-ray folks were concerned, and then laughed when they opened the bag.

#23 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 01:41 PM:

Let's hear it for random association and lack of sleep! I was wondering how on earth you'd managed to get a bag of Brooklyn bagels and byakhee...

#24 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 02:09 PM:

Well, I did say it was a big bag. And all they had were onion byakhees. Carryon rules were less strict, back then.

#25 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 02:11 PM:

Bialy, Bialystok kuchen - History and Recipe

"Outside of New York City, the bialy is little known. Bialys came to the United States from Bialystok, Poland, and they are sometimes known as Bialystok kuchen. In the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews immigrated to American and settled in New York City. They brought with them their taste and recipes for bialys. While there were once dozens of bialy bakeries in New York, the number can now be counted on one hand. Bialys have long been a staple in New York delicatessens and a favorite of the Jewish community. True bialy lovers know where the best bakeries are. In fact, Manhattan's Lower East Side is lovingly called Bialy Central.'"

"A bialy is similar to a bagel, in that it is a round, chewy roll. But it is unlike a bagel in three important ways: One, it does not have a hole in the middle, but a depression; two, bialys never became popular outside of New York City; and three, bagels are boiled and bialys are baked. The indentation in the middle of the dough is filled with onion, garlic, or poppy seeds. Because the bialy has a very short shelf like, about 6 hours, they do not lend to being shipped around the country. They can be modest in size, 3 to 4 inches, or the size of a small pizza. Similar to the bialy is the onion pletzel and the onion board, popular Jewish breads from other countries."

#26 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 02:23 PM:

Mmmmm. Onion pletzl. Can be dangerous if you try to split them, but mmmmm.

In my old neighborhood, there were two bagel shops, directly across the street from each other. One had good bagels, the other, good bialys. Throw in some nice Nova, some cream cheese, sliced Bermuda onions and maybe a slice of tomato, and a fine brunch was at hand.

#27 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 02:31 PM:

Mmmmm.... bialys. Onion pletzels. Onion boards. Don't get those here in San Diego, oh no.

My own airport security story is far less outrageous than some told here, although just as ridiculous.

Julie and I were traveling from Columbus back home to San Diego, and she bought a fruit smoothie before we got on line for the gate. The smoothie came in a transparent plastic cup. She was told she could not go through the security gate with a transparent plastic cup, only opaque cups were allowed.

We argued that the regulation made no sense. Barr cups was silly, but preferring opaque cups to transparent ones was particularly silly. At least with a transparent cup you can see, well, whatever paranoid fantasy object you're afraid of.

So Julie ended up drinking the smoothie fast and getting an ice cream headache. And so the terrorists won that day.

#28 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Mitch - the exact same thing happened to a friend of mine flying out of Logan. He went back to the smoothie stand and begged a styrofoam coffee cup from them. Problem solved.

Of course, the Peets (only Peets I know of in NY, BTW) by the gates in the United terminal at JFK will happily sell you an iced coffee in one of those oh-so-dangerous clear cups which you can then carry directly onto the plane.

#29 ::: David Elworthy ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 04:05 PM:

I flew through Logan last weekend (er, September 11th, on an AA flight from Boston to LA...), and managed to upset the security machine by leaving a roll of quarters in my bag. I always carry this, as it's useful for buses, tolls, etc. The person operating the scanner put my bag to one side and made a point of not opening it, but instead called one of his colleagues. Who looked at the monitor, laughed at him, and said "it's a roll of quarters, sonny".

#30 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 04:28 PM:

So why is there a rule about not carrying clear plastic cups on a plane? Is it simply irrational, like banning nail clippers?

As I said, I can see some logic to banning opaque cups, because things can be hidden in them. But a transparent cup is much harder to hide things in, you have to sort of suspend the object-to-be-hidden in the liquid to keep it from being spotted.

#31 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 05:00 PM:

I was pondering what Mitch was pondering. As per the TSA it seems that walk-through x-ray machines don't do a good job screening the contents of plastic containers, so they'd have to go through the scanner, where they would undoubtedly spill.

So, why hasn't Starbuck's come up with special airport-only foam cups to keep from annoying their customers?

#32 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 05:12 PM:

So why is there a rule about not carrying clear plastic cups on a plane?

That would be because T Heinz, the infamous "Ketchup Bomber," always carries a clear plastic cup onto planes she intends to bomb. It's common knowledge among conjurors that a clear plastic cup can distract an audience for a crucial 13/67 of a second. Heinz's documented use of the cup to direct attention away from her deadly plastique ketchup bottle led the TSA the security trolls to wise up, and now we're stuck with the consequences.

#33 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 05:53 PM:

How many people obey laws they don't agree with, or oppose (f'r example) recreational drug use, simply on the grounds that "it's illegal"? (I've run into many of these, who don't see anything morally or socially wrong with smoking a joint, but still think it's wrong to do it simply because of the illegality of it)

Most people will obey even utterly ridiculous laws simply because they exist, and because they have some sort of knee-jerk trust in/obedience to authority that compels them to accept all sorts of things they would never go for under normal circumstances.

Most laws, rational or not, carry some kind of penalty for violation. While I have no doubt that some people who indulge in recrational drugs (of whatever kind) think it's "wrong simply because of the illegality," many have a perfectly rational fear of losing their jobs or worse if they are caught doing it. I would hope that there's some kind of disciplinary procedure for a security employee who exceeds authority, but the rules are so vaguely worded that it's hard to know where that point lies (a point Bruce has made many times).

And having people obey laws they disagree with is fundamental to the concept of the rule of law. There are folks who really don't believe that beating their kids to death, or torching the house of a new neighbor who happens to be the wrong [fill in the blank], or stealing cash, property, or elections are "wrong;" the threat of punishment deters them, sometimes. (I know there are other forms of deterrence, and none of them works perfectly, but I don't think that's part of this particular issue.)

The boarding-security problem involves an attempt to apply a rigid ruleset to an extremely fluid question -- who and what constitute a genuine threat? The number of genuine threats is extremely small, but the penalty for failure is high. Passenger flow can only be restricted so much, or the entire complex system breaks down. (Someone who wanted to make a particular kind of statement could generate a very large number of false alerts, possibly shutting down air travel entirely for a few hours, and kill nobody, except perhaps a liver patient waiting for a transplant.)

And no, I'm certainly not letting TSA off the hook; I've been complaining about the ineptitude of US air security for almost twenty years now. The Europeans are (almost) uniformly polite, and always have been, and they've been at it longer and with considerable success. I would be surprised if this is due to some inherent cross-pond niceness; I suspect an element of accountability is involved.

#35 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:06 PM:

So maybe it's not about transparency to visible radioation at all at all--maybe the transparent cups are opaque to X-Rays, and vice-versa? Hmmm....

I almost never have any of the problems cited here--but then again, I almost always fly showered, clean-shaven and with a business casual clothes and haircut. Of course, looking over 9/11 videos, I seem to recall that terrorists do the same.

#36 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 10:13 PM:

Dugan's Deli in Ames, Iowa had bialys way back when I was in college. The dorm cafeterias only served 20 meals a week - Sunday evenings we had to fend for ourselves. For me, Sunday supper was often a bialy and a beer (the drinking age was 18 back then, Though it didn't really matter for me since I worked 3 years between high school and college).

#37 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:04 PM:

Beth at security:

"I have an artificial knee."

"Pass through."

Alarms.

"Ma'am, come this way."

"Of course."

"Please sit here. Now lift your leg out" Wands leg. Knee sets off alarm. "I'll have to pat your knee down."

"I'd be very happy to lift my pantleg to show you the knee."

"NO! Don't do that!"

There are two kinds of people: those who want to see the scar, and those who really don't. My doctor told me not to even bother with the card -- airport security pays no attention to them, and rightly so.

#38 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:06 PM:

A good bagel is a joy, but a really fresh bialy is heaven. Mmm, carmelized onion and butter.

#39 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:09 PM:

By the way, the broken links have been fixed. They were all artifacts of accidentally "pointed" quotation marks in the HTML. Why Not To Use Word When Writing Code, Part 497.

#40 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:43 PM:

Bialys - yum. We have been lucky enough to have New York Bakery and Delicatessen here in Kansas City, MO, since 1904 or 4..... that's where I learned to love both bagels and bialys at a rather young age. And Nova lox... yumm.

TSA-the only time I was ever second-searched, I was coming home from the San Diego Smofcon with a hat I bought at the zoo. Both getting on and at the transfer in, I think, Denver, I got second-searched at the gate before boarding (we didn't go out of the gate areas).

#41 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 11:51 PM:

Jane & Beth - I've got an artificial hip. It never set off metal detectors until after 9/11, and now the alarm goes off every single time. Now my husband knows to look after my purse when it comes off the belt, because I am inevitably off to the side taking off my shoes. (I always, always wear slip-on shoes when I fly.)

They never want to see my wallet card, either, and they always scan me from head to toe. Fortunately, no one's ever asked to see the scar, because I'd have to take my pants off.

When I used to use metal crutches, they would have me walk through with the crutches. Then they'd wand me, then they'd let me sit down while they sent the crutches through the X-ray. It was pretty time-consuming, but otherwise a reasonable process.

The fight with crutches was always convincing the flight attendants to leave them with me at my seat. "If anything happens, they can't be in the way," they would say. "If anything happens, I'm going to need them," I would tell them. "I'm not risking my life on the assumption that you would remember to get them back to me in an emergency."

I always won.

#42 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 12:20 AM:

John M Ford: The Europeans are (almost) uniformly polite, and always have been, and they've been at it longer and with considerable success.

The one time I flew internally in the EU (connecting to Frankfurt via SAS's Copenhagen hub) I was very surprised that I wasn't asked for ID anywhere, except at the check-in counter. Not at security, even though the policy was "ticketed passengers only" and not at the gate.

And EU entry had me all confused. My passport was stamped in Denmark, and when I arrived in Frankfurt, there was no way for German customs to tell EU passengers from non-EU passengers, thus making clearing customs a bit of a joke.

Then again, both Copenhagen and Frankfurt airports had a lot more eyes-in-the-sky than I've seen here, so I guess security is more centralized. And yes, everyone was very nice, especially when I used my bad German on them.

#43 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 12:29 AM:

Andy, you beat me with the bookmark arrest this time!

My brother has a steel plate in his head (only medical thing ever wrong with him and it came from falling and hitting his head) and he's having trouble going through security, too. They're hoping things will calm down before they come back from Taiwan.

#44 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 06:42 AM:

John and I flew down from Boston to Baltimore for a house-hunting trip about 2.5 years ago (back when BWI was the first to get federal TSA employees). On the way through Logan, my bag went through the x-ray, then was searched on the other side. When we got to the gate, it was searched again - this time, by a woman who spoke approximately zero English and looked like she could bench-press me and my luggage together. Her preferred method of search was to take my pack-it containers (mesh bags and zippered cubes which organize my stuff) and moosh or smash them between her hands.

Then she got to my computer bag, and looked confused by my snowy white iBook. At this point, I got the attention of another person (who did speak English) and pointed out I was concerned that she was going to wreck my electronics. He took over the search from there, and my laptop was unscathed, but it was traumatic.

On the way back, the newly-minted TSA whizzed us through BWI security, apologized very politely to John when he had to have a secondary wand search, and seemed very proud of their role. It's too bad all that shiny-new pride in a job well done has tarnished into bitter insistence on double or triple-checking to see if you have your boarding pass and freaking out over items from the Levenger catalog.

#45 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 01:14 PM:

Cardiff Airport, (CWL), unique among everywhere I've ever been, keeps a cane (walking stick) of their own to provide to passengers who are using a wheelchair but walking through or who usually use a cane and are having their own cane go through the x-ray.

This is very simple, and amazingly useful for people who can't walk comfortably without a cane, which is quite a few people, including me.

#46 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Mitch Wagner wrote:

"I almost never have any of the problems cited here--but then again, I almost always fly showered, clean-shaven and with a business casual clothes and haircut."

Speaking of which, I just saw Mitch's photo in the latest SFWA BULLETIN, and was taken aback. For some reason, I had always envisioned the online "Mitch Wagner" as being a fairly stocky, dark curly-haired, bearded fellow. Not so, apparently.

The last time my wife Hilde flew was before 9/11. If she flew nowadays, what with the artifical knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and neck, she'd almost certainly be taken aside for wanding.

(I don't know if Hilde would make the Guinness book for most-joint-replacement-surgeries, but considering that some of the current replacements are replacements for replacements that wore out after a few decades, she'd be a definite contender. One of those achievements she would be happier not to have had to be eligible for in the first place.)

#47 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 01:41 PM:

Oh, speaking of clothes you wear to the airport:

Two years before September 11th: I went through SFO wearing black vinyl pants, velvet tank top, black leather jacket painted with NIN logos and skeletal dragons, and a pair of handcuffs attached to said vinyl pants. Oh, and I had blue hair. The security guards said, "Cool jacket!" (The handcuffs were illegal to carry on, even then. But nobody stopped me.)

Now: Innocuous T-shirt and black slacks and shoes I can take off super quick. And I get searched all the time. (I don't mind it though--I'm not like the daft woman in the search line ahead of me who was complaining at the top of her lungs about how there were "no women terrorists".)

#48 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 02:53 PM:

Bruce, your description of me is partially true, and would have been reasonable in the past.

I used to be fat--as a matter of fact, that picture was taken at my peak weight, I weigh something like 45 pounds less now. So you could describe me, now as "stocky" or "stout"--words I prefer--or "pudgy" or "plump."

And I used to have a thick head of brown, curly hair, and a ponytail. But, alas, my hair started to thin. Very few guys look good with long, thinning hair. I am not one of them. So I went for Preemptive Baldness, not shaving my head but going in for the number-two-clipper-all-over-look.

I did seriously consider shaving my head. Funny thing: back when Soren de Selby shaved his--which was when I had hair down to mid-shoulderblades--I thought the decision was REALLY REALLY PECULIAR. Now, it's a mainstream fashion choice.

And I had a beard in the early 90s. It didn't look good, though. Elegant women of my acquaintance convinced me that long hair AND a beard was Too Much Hair; I needed to pick one or another.

#49 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 02:56 PM:

I frequently have people say to me, "I saw your picture after years of reading your writing--you look really different from how I imagined."

Unfortunately, that's never followed up with: "I knew you were witting and charming, but I never imagined what a good-looking fellow you are!'

#50 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 03:05 PM:

I have never had any significant problems going through either Immigration or Customs getting into the US, but there have been enough times I've had to consciously remember that they can be as rude and annoying as they like, but that if I want to get past them I have to be consistently polite and pretend I don't have a sense of humour (think Hawkeye Pierce in "No Laughing Matter"). Because they can say anything they like to me, search my luggage and make comments on what they find, and the only sensible thing for me to do is look back at them blandly, nod, smile, and decline to take offense.

This is a trivial problem compared to the difficulties other people have reported - a friend who works for British Airways says that Muslim employees are regularly refusing to fly into the US any more because of the way they're treated on arrival - but it's one thing I will not miss about not going to the US any more.

#51 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 03:19 PM:

I always visualize myself as Wile E. Coyote as played by Bruce Dern, but they let me on airplanes anyway.

In five years, your "photo ID" will have to include your LiveJournal icon. This may actually improve its utility as a security device.

#52 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 05:13 PM:

Dear Mr.Ford,

Your Wile E. Coyote morphing back and forth into Bruce Dern animated LiveJournal icon has been suspended due to a properly formatted complaint regarding possible copyright violation. Your passport/photoID has likewise been suspended. Please feel free to email your planned schedule for correcting the intellectual property dispute. Until then, your account and citizenship have been temporariliy suspended. Please enjoy the attached animated President Ashcroft icon. This was posted while listening to the new song "Liberty?" by Viola and the Terrorists. Thank you.

-- LiveJournal/Homeland Security Support Team

#53 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 05:40 PM:

I will say one thing for the various security people - they refrain from making rude remarks about the Pocket Rocket that lives in my handbag.

For those who don't know what a Pocket Rocket is, it is a very tiny massage device that is remarkably powerful for something that runs off a single AA cell. The manufacturer describes it as a pocket-sized massage device suitable for taking to the gym, and handy for massaging sore muscles while out and about. This is in fact exactly what I bought it for, and why it's in my handbag when I get on a plane - a few years ago I had the interesting experience of flying from London to San Francisco in economy class a day or two after I'd pulled my neck and shoulder (again), and had no intention of getting on the return flight without something to massage my shoulder with. But it does, of course, look like something sold by the sort of shop I did in fact buy it from. :-)

#54 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2004, 07:29 PM:

Julia-- it would be interesting if they were to offer a cellphone massager. They already do almost everything else, and the "vibrate" setting could be beefed up to massage level pretty easily. One less device to carry, and all that.

*scampers off to get patent*

#55 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 01:43 AM:

Larry: the way they can tell is that if you start in an EU country, your baggage tags will have a green stripe.

If you're carrying more than the usual duty-free allowance, you may want to make sure you check a bag so you have evidence of an intra-EU trip.

#56 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 02:44 AM:

Christopher - Thanks! I was really puzzled by that. I assume that the green stripe is pretty darn visible. Even so, nobody seemed to give me or my suitcase a second look as I stumbled through customs, still slightly out of it from the 45mg of Temazapam I had taken in order to sleep on the red eye over from Newark.

#57 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 05:49 AM:

Larry B, Another thing is that once you cleared customs at Copenhagen, you were in "Schengenland," a sub-set of the EU that has done away with border controls. It's why you can drive from Holland to Italy via Germany and Austria, for instance, without stopping. Just wave at the now-deserted control buildings as you whoosh down the road. Same in airports; once you've entered Schengenland, you're essentially taking domestic flights, so you will have security but not customs.

John M., another point is that outside of the big hubs (and even at some of them), security in European airports is often very close to the gate. In Berlin (Tegel), for example, you check in at the gate and immediately go through security. The airport has invested in lots of machines so that lines stay very short. This is obviously harder to manage in places where there are a lot of transfers, but otherwise a good solution.

#58 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 03:14 PM:

The Schengen acquis is actually a little bit more complicated than Doug describes, as befitting any major intergovernment agreement on something as sensitive as immigration, customs, and visitor visas.

You clear immigration at the first stop within the Schengen zone, but wait to clear customs at the last stop. (Otherwise, it'd be like the USA, where you have to claim your bags, clear customs, and then put your bags back into the system at a transfer desk.)

An illustrative example:

When flying from Boston to Munich via Paris, we got off the plane, cleared Schengen immigration, then had the choice of heading for baggage claim and customs, or going through a security check and entering the Schengen area at CDG. As it turned out, our original flight to MUC was cancelled, so we went out through customs (without our checked bags, and without being stopped), got the details on our rebooking from the service desk, had some food, went through security, and waited in the lounge (since we'd come in on the transatlantic flight in business class).

When we reached MUC, we were stopped by German customs, even though we had already entered the Schengen zone; our checked bags didn't have the green stripe tags. It was a fairly short stop, though, once we figured out what the guy was asking and he switched to English instead of exercising my very minimal German (which is even more minimal after a long night and day of travel).

(I'll refrain from explaining the rules on getting a Schengen visa for those who need visas; this comment is already too long.)

Then there's the special situation of the UK and Ireland, which are outside Schengen but have their own common travel area.

And, yes, there is a watch list for Schengen entry, though I certainly hope that it's better implemented than the US "no-fly" list has been.

#59 ::: Dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 05:30 PM:

I think I've sussed out the clear cup problem - it's a weapon. Foam cups only make crumbly, soft edges when you squeeze them, but squeeze a clear Solo cup and it cracks leaving a nice, vaguely sharp edge.

I imagine they'll ban paper soon. Y'know, 'cause of paper cuts. Those buggers can be nasty!

#60 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 07:02 PM:

Yes, but if you take a foam cup with you to a pressurized underwater habitat, or in torpedo tube of a submarine open to the sea, before your flight, or between flights, the cup is compressed by air- or water-pressure to a tiny higher-density not-so-foamy version of itself, which could easily kill a stewardess with laughter.

This brilliant policy mitigates that risk.

When General Ashcroft arrives at the pearly gates of heaven, I hope that Saint Peter points to the sign with the color code for Threat Level of attack from Hell, shrugs, and pulls the lever to the trap door...

Feeling safer yet?

#61 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 09:11 PM:

I fly quite a bit, and to date I've only been pulled over for special search twice. Once when I was flying through New Zealand back to the States from Australia, and they were pulling over every third person or so-- it was a re-screen of the entire plane, since we went right back on the same flight to go to LAX. (This was last summer, right after the tip that terrorists were trying to get in through Australia, which I naturally didn't hear about until afterwards. Aparently the Americans didn't trust the Aussie screens and were repeating everything.)

The second time was when my flight got rebooked on a different airline and I had to go through the full search because of that-- must look like a one-way ticket on the screens. And I once had to get one bag searched when the screener got nervous about my metal hard-shell glasses case I carry. (I come from a family that's managed to run glasses over with desk chairs and cars, as well as drop them from a (small) airplane during takeoff. I take no chances.)

But overall, my experiences haven't been bad-- due in large part, I suspect, to the fact that my name isn't on any watch lists. (I'm scared to think what my job, which involves a great deal of travel, would be like if I were.) Security screeners are almost always nice to me-- but then, I look significantly younger than I am, and I try to look even younger when I fly, and ever-so-slightly clueless. In my experience clean-cut all-American female teenager types generally don't get hassled.

Of course, having said this, I'll be two hours in Security full search tomorrow and miss my flight....

#62 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 02:13 AM:

I haven't had any problems in security with my aluminuminuminum glasses cases. But my fingerprints don't match the ones in the federal database anymore, so I should probably see about getting that fixed before I fly again. I don't want to sit in some airport jail for a couple of days while they find my retired nephrologist.

#63 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 04:05 AM:

Thanks Christopher D. Almost any EU directive or agreement will be more complicated than I explain it. Or want to explain it, except as a cure for insomnia.

#64 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 04:26 AM:

Going waaayy back there, and talking about Senator "Ted" or "Teddy" Kennedy being picked up by matching with someone who once used the alias "T Kennedy".

Surely Ted/dy is short for Edward (like our Ned Kelly, who has a folk song about him called My Name is Edward Kelly)? So is it not likely that on a ticket or passenger list he would be down as "E Kennedy"?

Just had to say that. Please resume usual transmission now.

#65 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 09:18 AM:

Oh, this is nice. In Chicago, they are taking away your right to wander in circles:

Sophisticated new computer programs will immediately alert the police whenever anyone viewed by any of the cameras placed at buildings and other structures considered terrorist targets wanders aimlessly in circles, lingers outside a public building, pulls a car onto the shoulder of a highway, or leaves a package and walks away from it. Images of those people will be highlighted in color at the city's central monitoring station, allowing dispatchers to send police officers to the scene immediately.

In other words, if you get on the bad-people list, you can be constantly harassed by the police. This also strikes me as a first-rate way to do racial profiling.

#66 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 10:57 AM:

Andy: Well, clearly, meeting a friend in front of the Sears Tower for lunch (or, for that matter, pulling over to deal with a screaming child in the backseat) is a danger to us all.

Run for the hills! Someone is early!

Sheesh.

#67 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 12:51 PM:

Epacris wrote:

Surely Ted/dy is short for Edward (like our Ned Kelly, who has a folk song about him called My Name is Edward Kelly)? So is it not likely that on a ticket or passenger list he would be down as "E Kennedy"?

Actually, "Ted" is usually short for "Theodore", at least in my experience

#68 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 12:54 PM:

"Ted" is used as a nickname for both "Edward" and "Theodore." Senator Kennedy (D-MA) is an "Edward M."

#69 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 04:50 PM:

Andy, there should be a circling protest!

#70 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 06:29 PM:

Right on, Marilee.

"Blessed are They who go around in circles, for They shall be known as Wheels."
-- Anonymous Rotary club member

#71 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 12:02 AM:

Meanwhile: Flight diverted after Cat Stevens found on watch list

This apparently wasn't a false hit -- Cat Stevens really is on the Watch List.

I know that I'm feeling safer by the minute.

#72 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 12:08 PM:

He might have actually sung something. That'd definitely put the flight at risk.

#73 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2004, 12:17 PM:

I don't know - a rousing rendition of "Peace Train" seems appropriate right about now...

#74 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 04:15 PM:

So, Ted Kennedy and another Democratic congressperson have complained about being stopped. Have any Republicans complained? Statistically speaking, there must be some (avoiding major paranoia attack here).

#75 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2004, 04:45 PM:

There's the Joe Foss story. A past president of the National Rifle Association, stopped for having in his pocket the original pin backed MOH handed to him by FDR's own hand.

And for Democrats remember George McGovern's statement that his government put him into a bomb laden B24 quicker than it trusted him to fly commercial.

The common quip is that both these men had flight training and had expressed differences with the American government in the past.

#76 ::: Rash ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 11:00 PM:

It now seems that Cat Stevens was NOT on
The List -- according to Time Magazine,
Youssouf Islam is, but the name Cat Stevens goes
by now is Yusuf Islam.
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,702062,00.html

#77 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2004, 12:46 PM:

Today's Sinfest on watch lists.

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