Babies on U.S. no-fly lists holding up passengers

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Some infants are being prevented from boarding planes at U.S. airports because their names match or resemble those listed on the United States' "no-fly list".

The Transport Safety Administration, which maintains the list, has told airlines that children under twelve should not be stopped from boarding or subjected to additional checks, even if their names are on the list. Despite this, infants whose names register with the "no-fly list" are being impeded at major airports across the nation.

The U.S. government has maintained a list of people who are barred from flying or required to pass additional security checks since before the 9/11 attacks, but the list has grown from a few dozen to more than 100,000 since then. Critics of the list, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, say not enough detail is provided on the list to accurately identify who it is meant to be targeting, resulting in innocents being snagged. The TSA is investigating 89 children who either complained themselves that their name is on the list, or had complaints filed on their behalf. Fourteen of them are babies under two.

Richard A. Altomare, Chairman of the Coalition for Luggage Security sees the babies debacle as indicative of more serious concerns; "We see articles daily about luggage and airport security. Each one contradicts what the TSA says it is doing to provide safer air travel for the public. The flying public is distracted by hopping on one foot with their shoes in one hand and their belt in another, or babies being held up because their names are the same as or similar to those of possible terrorists on the government's 'no-fly list.' But meanwhile, uninspected or minimally inspected cargo is loaded into the belly of the same plane. This just means there is no true reform, but rather a facade to give the illusion of real reform."