(Steve Watson) TSA agents at Fort Lauderdale Airport ordered a family to get off a plane they had already boarded, saying that their eighteen-month-old child was on a no fly list as a terror suspect.
The child’s parents said they believe they were flagged up and ordered to leave the JetBlue flight because they and their daughter are of Middle Eastern descent.
“It’s absurd. It made no sense. Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?” the girl’s father told ABC affiliate WPBF News.
The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, are both US citizens, born and raised in New Jersey, which is where they were headed before being ejected.
The family said that after they were “humiliated, embarrassed and picked on” they were marched off the plane, and ordered to stand in the terminal for half an hour by TSA agents.
“We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab.” the father said, referring to his wife’s traditional head scarf.
The TSA agents then eventually said that the family could re-board the flight without offering further explanation as to what had occurred. The family declined the offer and left the airport, saying they felt too ashamed to get back on the plane after the incident.
The parents say that even though they are US born citizens, they now fear that if their identities were revealed, their safety could be threatened because they have been associated with terrorists by the TSA. They plan to contact an attorney and possibly pursue legal action.
When WPBF contacted JetBlue for an explanation they were told that it was a TSA issue. However, when the TSA were contacted they said they were not investigating the incident and that it was the airline’s responsibility.
The secret government “no fly list” of suspected “terrorists” who are banned from flying to or within the United States more than doubled in 2011.
The figures, revealed three months ago, highlighted the fact that the list now contains around 21,000 names, close to 11,000 more than it did just one year ago.
The exponential growth in names added to the list is said to have been sparked by the failed underpants bombing incident on Christmas Eve 2009.
An anonymous U.S. counterterrorism official told the AP that after the 2009 incident, a new standard was set meaning someone no longer has to be considered a threat only to aviation to be placed on the no-fly list. People who are considered a broader threat to domestic or international security can also be added, the official stated.
The government has refused to reveal details of who is on the list and the reason they have been flagged.
“The news that the list is growing tells us that more people’s rights are being violated,” said Nusrat Choudhury, a staff attorney working for the ACLU’s national security project. “It’s a secret list, and the government puts people on it without any explanation. Citizens have been stranded abroad.”
In lawsuit against the government, the ACLU is representing American citizens who believe they have been put on the no fly list without explanation. Currently, those who submit a letter to Homeland Security asking to be removed from the list have no way of knowing if their request has been reviewed without attempting to board another flight, according to the ACLU.
The ACLU also contends that huge numbers of Americans are opposed to the measures employed by the DHS and the TSA in the nations airports and train stations, but that many have not registered official complaints for fear of being placed on the watch list.
The no-fly list and the CAPS II system used by airlines pales in comparison to the separate government master “terrorist watch list” that reportedly now has over one million names on it.
Reports have confirmed that the watch list contains the names of thousands of innocent Americans, including children, lawyers and even a retired Air National Guard brigadier, now a commercial pilot for a major airline.
In some cases credit reports have been used in calculating the risk score, while the list has also been used to target political activists opposing the death penalty and the Iraq war. Some, including former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel have suggested restricting the constitutional rights of those placed on the list.
We have previously highlighted the fact that a miniscule amount, less than 0.01% of Homeland Security cases are terrorism related.
Once again we are reminded that the terrorist threat to America is vastly over hyped and is being used by a criminally controlled government as an excuse to police the world and foment a domestic police state to crush any dissent amongst the American people.
The watch list represents a subversion of the first and fourth amendments, is inherently flawed and, it can be argued, is harmful to the security of the nation.
The chairman of a House technology oversight subcommittee warned in 2008 that the database used to produce the government’s terror watch lists is “crippled by technical flaws,” and the system that eventually replaced it may be even worse.
In a letter to the inspector general at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) warned that the upgrade “if actually deployed will leave our country more vulnerable than the existing yet flawed system in operation today.”
Despite this and the fact that it is already far too expansive to be in any way effective, there have been calls to apply the watch list to Amtrak trains as well as checkpoints at subways, malls and sports stadiums.
As we have consistently highlighted, restricting the movement of more innocent Americans and implementing more draconian police state measures will do nothing to increase security and serves only to foster a constant state of fear and unease.