The No-Fly list was supposed to protect air travelers from dangerous terrorists. Unfortunately for those travelers, the list is more likely to
contain the names of thousands upon thousands of innocent people than it is to contain the names of known terrorists. Former FBI agent Jack Cloonan
knew from the start, when he heard the sorts of names going on the list, that the endeavor would be a nightmare. While the list failed to include
known terrorists at large, it did manage to pick up Saddam Hussein and the President of Bolivia, along with many very common names like Gary Smith,
John Williams and Robert Johnson.
60 Minutes, in collaboration with the National Security News Service, has obtained the secret list used to screen airline passengers for terrorists
and discovered it includes names of people not likely to cause terror, including the president of Bolivia, people who are dead and names so common,
they are shared by thousands of innocent fliers.
The name of David Belfield who now goes by Dawud Sallahuddin, is not on the list, even though he assassinated someone in Washington, D.C., for former
Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini. This is because the accuracy of the list meant to uphold security takes a back seat to overarching security needs:
it could get into the wrong hands. "The government doesn't want that information outside the government," says Cathy Berrick, Director of Homeland
Security and Justice Issues for the General Accounting Office.
"Well, Robert Johnson will never get off the list," says Donna Bucella, who oversaw the creation of the list and has headed up the FBI’s Terrorist
Screening Center since 2003. She regrets the trouble they experience, but chalks it up to the price of security in the post-9/11 world. "They're going
to be inconvenienced every time … because they do have the name of a person who's a known or suspected terrorist," says Bucella.
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Well, no surprise here. Many of us have been saying just this since this silly plan went into effect. Nevermind the fact that any terrorist worth
their salt is likely to travel under an assumed name, using forged documents - or maybe that's not the point. Maybe the point isn't to catch
terrorists and protect citizens, but rather to terrify citizens.
In any case, the list is a costly, ineffective, poorly-conceived endeavor, and like most of the programs put into place since 9/11, does very little
to actually protect anyone.
It would make too much sense, I guess, to protect our water supply, our food supply, and our electrical grid.