Names on No-Fly List Questioned

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Reportedly, on Sunday 60 Minutes will air a segment on the Homeland Security Department that will include a suggestion that the "no-fly list" assembled after 9/11 may not have been put together, and may not be maintained, all that carefully.

The evidence?  Among the 44,000 names on that list are 14 of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom are very likely to be boarding an airplane anytime soon.  Also on the list: Saddam Hussein, who has been in custody for some time now, although I guess it’s not impossible that he could escape, come to the United States and then try to board a plane incognito.  And then wouldn’t it be embarrassing if he had not been on the list?

Other names mentioned included Evo Morales, currently the president of Bolivia, and Nabih Berri, speaker of Lebanon’s parliament.  (Maybe you think that the terrorists won’t recruit a head of state to carry a bomb onto a plane, but then maybe that’s just what they want you to think.)  And all Gary Smiths, John Williamses, and Robert Johnsons should beware, as those not-uncommon names are all on the list too.

Among the names not on the list, on the other hand, were the 11 British citizens who were actually arrested recently and charged with plotting to blow up airliners flying to the U.S.  So, to review: Fourteen dead former hijackers — on the list; 11 live real accused hijackers — not.  There’s a good explanation for that, though, according to government officials — they would not want the list to fall into the wrong hands.  "The government doesn’t want that information outside the government," said a spokesperson.  No, that’s the last thing you want, to have that information out where somebody might actually use it.