No-Fly List Screwup Strands Navy Officer’s Husband on Pacific Island

LTB logo

Okay, the Pacific island in question was Hawaii, and there are worse places to be stranded, but still.

The AP reports that Wade Hicks Jr. was traveling from Mississippi to visit his wife, a U.S. Navy lieutenant deployed in Japan, when he fell into the clutches of America's crack security specialists. During a layover in Hawaii, Hicks was notified that he was on the no-fly list and that, as does sometimes happen with people on that list (but not terrorists), he would not be allowed to fly.

Hicks was surprised by this for a number of reasons. He noted that he has no criminal record and in fact recently passed an extensive FBI background check in order to get a concealed-weapon permit in Mississippi. Turns out this is the same "FBI" that maintains the no-fly list, oddly enough. In fact, according to this report, Hicks is a former military contractor with a high-level security clearance and a TSA Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

He also had clearance paperwork from the military, because that's how he got to Hawaii in the first place—he hitched a ride on a military flight, as military dependents are allowed to do if a flight has room. That got him to Oahu, but during the layover a customs agent announced that Hicks was on the no-fly list and would go no further.

Nor would he be going back, unless he wanted to charter a plane or travel 2,500 miles by boat.

The apparently suspected terrorist would thus be kept safely there on Oahu, site of a major American naval base and airfield, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Hicks decided to contact state officials in Hawaii and Mississippi, local veterans' groups, and media outlets, and after several days of media coverage a customs agent called to say he had been removed from the list. He wasn't told why he was on the list, or why he had been removed, because you don't have the right to know. The government doesn't disclose who's on the list or why, because of course that's classified. It did not appear to be a case of mistaken identity, because according to the customs agent the date of birth and social-security number matched as well as the name. (Actually, it clearly was a case of mistaken identity, it's just that they had more wrong information on the list than just his name.) In any event, they did finally agree to let him exercise his constitutional right to travel.

Hicks speculates that he was on the list because he is an outspoken Tea Party activist who doubts the official story about 9/11 and is a vocal critic of, among other things, the President and the NDAA. (We agree at least on that last one. Or two.) There's no proof of that yet (all classified! sorry!), but if that did happen it'd be an outrageous violation of his civil rights. We definitely agree on that. As Hicks told the Hawaii Reporter, "This is a blue state and I am from a red state, but this is a non-partisan issue. I appreciate that people here [blue people in the blue state] put their neck on the line and trusted me," even if the federal government in its wisdom did deem him unworthy to fly.