Later tonight, President Obama will speak to the nation from the Oval Office, addressing Americans’ concerns about Islamic terrorism (although he’s sure not us that term). The Commander-in-Chief will call for more gun control, most probably recommending that Congress “close the terrorist loophole.” That’s the ability for citizens on the TSA’s “No-Fly list” – run by your good friends at the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) – to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. The List’s lack of due process or accountability notwithstanding. I’d like to know why it exists in the first place. Specifically . . .

Why shouldn’t a suspected terrorist be able to fly on a plane?

The airplane’s anti-ballistic cockpit door is closed and locked. The (ostensibly) TSA thoroughly disarms and checks everyone who flies, confiscating deadly shampoo bottles and X-raying exploding shoes. We also have [drunk, depressed, sleep-deprivedcorrupt] U.S. air marshals on board selected flights. Isn’t the No-Fly List’s existence an admission that airplane security is a failure? Maintaining a No-Fly List for suspected terrorists is the same thing as saying “a clever terrorist could beat our system.”

But wait! There’s more!

If the feds are monitoring a suspected terrorist – within the bounds of the law and due process – isn’t it better to let them fly so our intelligence services know where the suspect is and where they’re going? If a suspect drives, well, anyone who reads a Jack Reacher novel (in the original English) knows how to shake a tail. People who fly leave a record of their travel (which is why Jack never flies and fictional terrorists spend so much money on fake passports and plastic surgery).

I ain’t done yet . . .

If someone is too dangerous to fly on an airplane, aren’t they too dangerous to drive? It’s not as if car bombs don’t exist. By the same token, terrorists are known for strapping bombs onto their bodies (e.g., the French terrorist’s “suicide vest”). Doesn’t that mean they’re too dangerous to walk? Given how easy it is to get lost in a crowd, shouldn’t we have mobile terrorist screening centers at key points in front of schools, Christmas parties, etc. to catch suspected terrorists on the “No-Walk List”?

OK, now I’m ready to ask the question. What is the point of the No-Fly List? Setting aside it’s prima facie unconstitutionality, what is the point?

67 Responses to Question of the Day: What’s the Point of the No-Fly List, Anyway?

  1. “I’d like to know why the list exists in the first place.”

    Because the TSA misses most of the weapons when the screeners are tested.

    They let pass more weapons then they find…

    • I think the last half-dozen tests by their IG had them missing 95% of prohibited weapons, not sure how much after shave they missed. But the point stands, we may need no-fly. We may need TSA. We certainly shouldn’t need both, possibly neither.

      • I’m with Joel. We need neither.

        September was not a failure of security screening, it was a failure of multiple different systems. The two biggest failures have been addressed.

        The list needs to be stopped, ended, shut down, terminated, burned, shredded, dropped in a very deep hole, the supporters of the list need to go in the same hole and all of it allowed to fade into history.

        • On 9/11 one of the groups that did their jobs correctly was airport private security – box cutters were allowed at the time. Who did not do their jobs was the federal government, who allowed these terrorists to freely enter our country, plan and execute their attack.

          After 9/11 who gets sacked? Private airport security, to be taken over by the feds, who are proven failures at what they do.

          That right there is not common sense.

          What we need is some efing common sense.

    • Doesn’t matter if they found 100% of weapons at the checkpoints, there is virtually no defense in depth. The bad guys can get all they need after passing through security at many airports.

    • The low-info voter, the donkey led by a dangling carrot.
      You’d think that thanks to al gore and the invention of the interwebz that the low-info voter would’ve eventually become the minority. Nope…..

  2. Same point as TSA and DHS: security theater. Everything’s fine, your government will protect you. Shhhh, go back to sleep, I mean, watching TV.

  3. The no fly list was created because behind closed doors the airlines pleaded with a number of congressmen to do something about Ted Kennedy’s drunken tantrums in first class.

  4. CLOSE THE TERRORIST LOOPHOLE:

    1) Don’t let Obama release anyone else from GITMO.
    2) Don’t let Obama support/fund/arm his islamic terrorist buddies.
    3) Don’t let obama continue to be a terrorist to American gun owners.

    • I have one problem with that, specifically gitmo. At least some of the guys there have been proven to have been put there by lies, and are known to not be terrorists. Why should they be held there? Do they not get human rights just like the rest of us?

      If the US government can’t prove at least something about these guys, they should be let go. You can’t say they are terrorists if there is no proof whatsoever that they are. We can imprison the rest or execute them if they are proven to be terrorists.

      • Same with the no fly list. No evidence. No constitutionally guaranteed due process. If you are on this list you should be informed and informed as to why.

  5. When the current Director of National Intelligence was Under Secretary of Defense/Intelligence he arrived home one day from an overseas trip only to be confronted by a functionary who would not allow him back in the country. Sometime between his departure from Europe and his arrival at Dulles his name went on the no fly list undoubtedly because he “traveled” many times to the Middle East and Asia. Jim Clapper is about mild mannered as any senior government official can be but his was still fuming the next day when I went in to a briefing. The ICE functionary refused to honor his official passport because he was flagged. I suspect that there are many categoried of travel that get you flagged for no reason The no fly list is a joke.

  6. The no fly list exists because it will be a handy bureaucratic device for the administration to use against its “enemies.” Thus, it serves the same purpose as the IRS.

    • This, and the comment by tdiinva demonstrate one of the most coercive aspects of the no-fly list as appllied to those traveling internationally.

      There was an American student (of mid-Eastern ancestry) who had traveled to Egypt for a semester abroad. Because of his travel, he was put on a no-fly list and prevented from returning to the US for two months.

      Similarly, a Seattle area businessman, also of Arab extraction and a Muslim, with extensive overseas business and business travel, was prevented from getting on a plane to return to the US from Algeria. In both cases, the detainee was held until FBI agents arrived to question them as to their recent travels and contacts, the latter specifically as to his attendance at a Seattle area mosque attended by a “person of interest” to the FBI. When he (as An American citizen) sought to assert his right to the advice of counsel, he was specifically advised that if he did NOT waive his constitutional rights and respond to the interrogation, he would NOT be allowed on a plane back to the US.

      Ah yes, the Patriot Act and the No-Fly strike again. He eventually re-entered the US by flying to Vancouver Canada and crossing the border there. The student was denied assistance by the US embassy in Cairo, and had to fend for himself until he was finally allowed to leave. Therefore, in both cases, the No-Fly list was a subterfuge to allow an detention and interrogation of US citizens overseas that would be illegal and unconstitutional if done in the US. Cute, huh?

  7. How about the loophole for government employees owning a gun?

    ^^ This sarcasm brought to you by Harry Reid and the Everything is Loophole Action Committee of Amerika.

  8. “What is the point of the No-Fly List? Setting aside it’s prima facie unconstitutionality, what is the point?”

    – Selective enforcement: “The process is the punishment.” More opportunity for “process”: cover for summary judgment, means of harassment, swatting, burning people’s resources.

    – Cleansing of the body politic: A mechanism for creation of “adverse information” to dirty up people they want to run out of politics.

    – Getting elected: Security theater & hijacking the issue, because at least they are *doing something.*

    – Money: Can’t have graft with no contracts to award. Can’t engage in extortion (& confiscation) without cover of a credible threat. (Q – So what is the fee-required special, vetted traveler program, whatever it’s name is this week, except a way to extort protection money out of people you are otherwise burdening?)

    And of course, because they like messing with other people. Really, everything not compulsory is forbidden, and they hate you doing or not doing anything on your own initiative. “You’ll travel when we think you should.”

    • Exactly. The real purpose of “no fly lists” and the like is to allow the government to give the appearance of doing something when, in fact, it really isn’t. There is no due process to being put on a no-fly list. All it takes is some bureaucrat making a routine decision and you’re screwed. The gun-controllers are absolutely salivating at the thought of using petty bureaucratic rules like the no-fly list as a tool for confiscating firearms. But if we can just save one life, it’s all good. Right?

  9. If you’re going to trash the constitution why not just raid the houses of these “no-fly list” every other day or so? Wouldn’t that be more effective in keeping them from causing harm? Even simpler, why not just throw them in jail now? If you’re going to go fascist…. you may as well go FASCIST.

    • Yes, that’s my go-to point about the whole thing. Any legislation that is proposed that deprives a no-fly listed person his 2A rights needs to be amended to also deny such people their 4A rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, their 6A right to counsel, their 5A right against self-incrimination, their 3A right against having a government operative quartered in their home, etc, etc. If they want to go about denying someone their Constitutional rights, they need to be up front about it so everyone can see exactly what is involved.

      • I’m a member of the stupid party (Repubs) and we don’t have people that can convey a simple retort like the above. The people who make it to federal office are pathetic.

  10. Gawd….the posting tools suck. Try to edit previous post and get the stupid “time has expired” warning even though there are minutes left. Been like this for months….if not year+. It’s like the place is run by lefty slackers.

    Now I get the “posting too fast warning”. Amateur hour.

    • ON the “time expired” error, try hitting save edit again, maybe even twice; it usually goes through on the second try. I have no solution to the “posting too fast” error (which makes no sense anyway. Must be code from a .gov contractor).

      • “I have no solution to the “posting too fast” error (which makes no sense anyway.”

        The “posting too fast” error is designed to throttle spam-bots that flood blog comment sections with crap like “I made $97 dollars an hour working from home”.

        Without it, TTAG would need an army of employees to do nothing but cancel spam.

        Now, that would be a job creator, but at RF’s expense.

        RF is probably a nice guy, but I doubt he could afford being *that* nice of a guy…

    • I’m losing about a third of my comments to that posting too fast thing. Evenn happens on my first comment. Used to work around it. Now I just let that comment go. I figure that if the clicks drop radically some one will finally fix the problem.

      If not. It ain’t my rice bowl.

      • Some browsers (notably, Chrome) are smart enough to save the text of the message on the previous page, so when you go back it’s still there. But it is seriously annoying even so. I understand that this is some form of anti-spam protection, but at this point it’s so aggressive that it seriously impedes regular posters. The timeouts are so high that a quadriplegic 90 year old can type comments fast enough to hit them. Please kill it.

        If spam is a problem, there’s captcha for that. If WordPress doesn’t support that, then ditch that garbage and use a better platform (WP is retarded in many other ways related to comments, like not being able to subscribe just to replies to my post, or just to one particular thread).

        (Ironically, it took me 8 tries to post this particular comment. “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down”. Sigh.)

    • I find it amusing, and annoying, that the “time remaining to edit” vares from zero to over 8 minutes, randomly, immediately after posting the comment!

      As for the “posting too fast…” notice it, it appears that this only pops up if your previous post has not run out its “time remaining to edit” clock. I could be wrong on that and the system just sucks, but that seems to be the case in my experience.

    • “Now I get the “posting too fast warning”. Amateur hour.”

      Hmm, would you like a refund of your posting fee?

        • It isn’t complaining, it’s constructive criticism. Frustration using the site keeps the clicks, thus revenues lower than they might otherwise be.

  11. Good news, brothers and sisters! POTUS is going to appoint a top executive to oversee the No-Fly List.

    Lois Lerner.

  12. If we simply refused to grant visas to foreigners, ended immigration, and enforced existing immigration law 9/11 never would have happened. We wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    No Fly lists, the TSA, DHS and the heinous Patriot act, would never have come to pass

    Yet here we are paying both in taxes and blood for the privileged of advancing the “American Ideal” all the while being stripped of the very things that are American.

    • So, no tourists allowed to visit from other countries, no foreign performers, artists, or athletes allowed. If a US citizen wants to marry a foreign national, they’d have to leave to go live in their future spouse’s country, because there would be no family visas.

      By the way, there would be countries that would now be closed to Americans, because there are countries that practice diplomatic reciprocity in the treatment of their nationals, and any requirements imposed on by your country on their citizens will be exactly imposed on your citizens. So an outright ban on all travel and cancellation of all visas by the US would be met in many places by the exact same action. All those Americans working overseas for American companies? Oh well, chances are good that a lot of them are getting sent home.

      And that’s just the default actions. It seems unlikely to me that an about to be deported businessman would be interested in leaving his money in the US. So there would have to be a lot of buyouts, with a significant amount of money leaving the economy permanently.

      And that’s the stuff I can come up with off the top of my head. The US shutting itself off from the rest of the world is a bad idea. There are risks, but there are rewards as well, and we have so much to gain.

      • There is no societal, cultural or economic benefit to America issuing any kind of visas. Quite the contrary. Our rise as a nation was due in no small part to American isolationism.

        The rest of you arguments are altruistic horseshit supported by neither fact nor history.

        • Which isolationism? For a good half of this country’s history, anyone could come and settle, no visa required – and they did, in droves, from Mexico and from Ireland and from Eastern Europe, and later from China and Japan etc. Citizenship? Abide by the law and pay taxes for a few years, and it’s yours, just ask.

          It wasn’t until late 19th century that immigration restrictions were first instituted, and they were explicitly racist – the motivation for the “Chinese Exclusion Act” was the threat of the “Yellow Peril”, of yellow devils with crooked legs and teeth and slanted eyes stealing jobs from white workers and raping their wives and daughters. Later they expanded those laws to explicitly ban all non-white immigration. It wasn’t until the 60s that all the explicitly racist language was finally excised off the books, but the rest of the system pretty much stayed as is, with per-country quotas etc.

          By the way, why there has to be some kind of tangible benefit? What happened to the general notion of natural rights, like freedom of movement?

        • @int

          Why does there have to be some tangible benefit? The only reason the United States Government exists is for the protection and benefit of the American People. Is that reason enough?

          The rest of your points actually support the argument that free movement of people between nations and cultures is advocating for and enabling segregation, ghettofication and ultimately genocide.

          You think its noble to say everyone is welcome, but it is actually that very position that leads to the most bloodshed.

  13. If they can add anyone they want any time they want, they can damage anyone they want without due process. Additionally anyone on the list is stuck there with no way to challenge it. This list is a fascist wet dream come true. No wonder Schumer loves the idea!

  14. They can add all those pesky NRA members and most everyone who has filled out those 4473’s that they don’t keep track of. And all permit holders.

  15. Simply stated by Jack Cloonan, former FBI – al Queda task force. It’s a “cover your rear end” document. I feel more secure? How about you?

  16. As the author said the “No Fly List” for “suspected” terrorists is a friggin’ joke, if someone can’t take down a plane and is intent on murder they WILL find another way to kill. We need only to look at Israel, if a terrorist, even a child sized one can’t build a bomb or get a gun they will use a knife or a car/truck to murder civilians, police, and military members. Numerous attacks have occurred in the “Promised Land” where blood-thirsty Muslims have used vehicles to run over and kill innocents, those left injured are later stabbed when the conveyance becomes disabled due to extensive damage to it’s drive-train and the driver takes to “hoofing it”. Israel is not where this crap, using vehicles as “deadly weapons” started.

    In the NY/NJ Metro Area a decade ago a violent, drug addicted, mentally ill individual killed his girlfriend in nearby Ber-GOYN County (home of anti-2nd Amendment N.J. State Senator Loretta Whine-BOIG). After stabbing his girlfriend to death in her home (she DIDN’T own a gun but DID have one of those stab/bullet-proof “Restraining Orders”) this typical Liberal grabbed the next best weapon available to him, his automobile and headed into busy Midtown Manhattan where he proceeded to mow down pedestrians outside NYC’s transit hub, Penn Station. Not satisfied with the carnage produced by his initial late afternoon attack he then drove around the block and did it again hitting and killing even more innocent commuters as they crossed the street. We later learned that the perpetrator was “known” to police, had a lengthy criminal history and had been institutionalized in mental hospitals numerous times only to be released back into society by Liberal judges taking the advice of do-gooding, bleeding-heart defense attorneys, social workers and psychologists who advocated “mainstreaming”.

    If politicians are serious about protecting innocent lives suspected terrorists, violence-prone mentally ill individuals and criminals MUST be charged, tried, convicted, imprisoned/institutionalized and/or executed. Barring the aforementioned which may takes years to accomplish even with prosecutors/judges sympathetic to our cause we MUST arm ourselves and our family members and be prepared to defend our homes, workplaces and public places from those whose only aim is commit mayhem and murder.

  17. To give a real perspective of how lousy the No Fly List is. I was once returning from Europe on business trip when the JFK security person scanned my passport and did a double take. My name had seemed to pop up. It later turned out that another ‘suspect’ who had used an alias which matched my real name had gotten onto the list. As a result for years whenever I flew I went through a process of being poked, prodded and asked a ton of questions while they determined whether nor not I was a dangerous weapon or some such.

    Eventually as part of my work the the D.O.D. I was given a security clearance. As a result my name was cleared through airport security and I could even use the fast track to get through security without any delay.

    As to the larger “Terrorist Watch List,” the FBI has even stated that many of the names on the list aren’t necessarily suspects. They are merely persons of interest who may be wanted for questioning.

    To use such a brain-dead systems to deny a U.S. Citizen any civil liberty is unthinkable. It saddens me greatly that a sitting President of the United States, or anyone who has taken an oath to defend the constitution, could make even make the suggestion.

  18. “What is the point of the No-Fly List?”

    To corroborate that in progressive America, laws and regulations exists solely for the purpose of giving the state more opportunities to harass people. Partially because it’s agents and administrators get off from the power trip, and partly so people can be forced to crawl on their knees to lawyer lobby contributors, in order to have even the slightest chance of getting some respite.

  19. Who’s on the list? Where’s the list?
    Rosannrosannadanna: “Who has a lisp? You shouldn’t make fun of someone with a lisp! One should attempt to help a person with a lisp. We should form a panel to…what? What?…oh, that’s different….never mind”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *