View Full Version : US Won't Tell Airlines of Names on No-Fly List

25th May 2005, 12:41
The following article appears in today's Washington Post. Of note is the report that airlines are not given access to every name on the list because the airlines lack sufficient security clearances. This illustrates a remarkable exercise of logic, in which an airline unkowingly boards a passenger who is not supposed to fly because the airline is deliberately not told not to fly the passenger. And of the supposed 30,000 names on the current list, if there are that many identified terrorists posing a threat to aviation or other interests, the Bush Asministration has lost its war on terror.

No-Fly Gaps Irk Airlines, DHS
Carriers Want Better List; Chertoff Seeks Earlier Notice

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 25, 2005; A03

The U.S. government's no-fly list has shortcomings that could allow suspected terrorists and people with ties to terrorism to board U.S.-bound airplanes from overseas, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials said.

Foreign and U.S. carriers departing for the United States are required to check each passenger's name against the no-fly list before takeoff, but some airlines complain that they sometimes do not have access to the full, or most up-to-date, version.

Since September 2004, the United States has ordered seven international flights to alter course, forcing them either to divert to a designated airport or return to their departure site.

In the most recent incidents, an Alitalia flight from Milan to Boston was told to land at Bangor, Maine, last week and an Air France flight from Paris to Boston was diverted to Bangor the week before. In both cases, the apparent passenger "hit" was false, but U.S. officials could not determine that until the passenger was removed and interviewed -- a process that costs carriers hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel, crew time and schedule changes.

"We don't know whether procedurally they don't always give us the most current list or whether there are other bad guys they don't want to share with us," said one industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process involves security-sensitive information. "We just know on a number of occasions we were told a person was on the no-fly list and he wasn't on ours."

Two Homeland Security officials and an aviation industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity said airlines are not given all names of suspected terrorists because some names require a security clearance to see them. These sources said they were not aware of flights that were diverted because a name of a person on board was too sensitive to pass along to an airline.

U.S. officials said they recognize that the current system relies too heavily on the checks that airlines conduct. The airlines are not required to send their passenger manifests to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials until 15 minutes after the flight departs. As a result, U.S. officials do not complete their checks against all terrorist watch lists until the plane is in the air.

Customs and Border Protection officials process about 250,000 passenger names every day against numerous government watch lists provided by the State Department, CIA, FBI and intelligence agencies. The process takes about an hour for each flight, which is why a plane is often midway over the Atlantic before the agency realizes it has a match on board.

Homeland Security officials said they can fix the shortcoming by requiring airlines to turn over passenger manifests to Customs and Border Protection 60 minutes before the flight leaves. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has been discussing the proposal in meetings with officials in Europe this week.

"It's one area we see that we can improve on with a simple rule change that will cost the airlines no money," said Christiana Halsey, spokeswoman for Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection agency. European and U.S. carriers oppose the plan because they say it will require major delays for passengers with connecting flights and will require some carriers to alter their entire international flight schedules to accommodate U.S. rules.

"As this proposal has been described to us, it clearly has the potential to dramatically impact basic industry economics," said James C. May, president and chief executive of the Air Transport Association, the lobbying group for U.S. carriers.

The no-fly list was never viewed as a comprehensive security system but rather as one element of the passenger screening process. The list was started in the 1990s and had 12 names on it on Sept. 11, 2001, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Homeland Security sources said the list has grown to about 30,000 names and changes "routinely" as new information streams in from the various agencies in charge of security and intelligence. The list is run by the Transportation Security Administration.

Homeland Security officials will not discuss the criteria that put an individual on the no-fly list or how one is removed, except to say that the list contains names and other information about people with ties to terrorism.

25th May 2005, 13:56
Still no argument and/or comment about who pays for the diversion?

25th May 2005, 15:28
Expecting any logic or common sense from the Bush administration is futile. They have gone from an impotent security system, prior to 9/11, to something resembling a sledgehammer trying to crack a walnut.

Overbearing checks at airports by often surly security staff alienates passengers and crews, forces people to seek other means of transport wherever possible.

The sheer stupidity of diverting aircraft, at huge cost to the airline and gross inconvenience to the several hundred passengers, to isolated airports has no purpose. What is achieved?

Often (Alitalia?) it is a mistake by an overzealous official, perhaps seeking to make a name for himself and there is always the suspicion that there is another, more commercial reason, why it always seems to be non-US carriers that are forced to divert.

US, get rid of the paranoia, accept that billions of people dislike your policies and your financial muscle. Develop a pragmatic and effective system of domestic security and stop dumping on the rest of the world!

25th May 2005, 15:59
And the sheer stupidity of banning cigarette lighters (and not matches) on all flights into the USA in the advent of the "shoe bomber" - who was using matches!!!!!

Onan the Clumsy
25th May 2005, 17:30
Well after all, it was a matching pair of shoes.

25th May 2005, 22:24
If they were "that" dangerous, surely the airlines should know first to prevent them boarding the pax in the first place, irrespective of their destination.

Semaphore Sam
25th May 2005, 22:40
Just a min...you expect logic out of these idiots? Remember, they're the ones who invaded Iraq on a 'Pack of Lies' they invented themselves. Whatever buffoonery comes next, just hunker down, as we Yanks say...as long as this idiot Bush remains in power, and the Noecons too, they haven't even started. It's all PR for their Religious Right zealots, so expect many more such silliness.

25th May 2005, 22:50
Doesn't letting them fly in the first place (by not telling the airlines the names on the list) kind of defeat the purpose of a "no" fly list? :confused:

25th May 2005, 23:15
Yep. First line of defence is to keep the terrorists off the aircraft. The USA seems to have forgotten that. Now they don't mind where they go, what they do or what they destroy so long as it's not to or across US airspace.

25th May 2005, 23:33
As much as I hate to say it, but for a fully fueled up aircraft, it's not real far from Vancouver to Seattle, or Toronto to the east coast.

25th May 2005, 23:50
OK, here's a thought. 30,000 names on the lists. The US doesn't want these folks in the US period.

Many high profile, secret names not on the lists. The US wants these guys really badly even if an aircraft is possibly put at risk. Divert to Bangor, intercept the aircraft and with 50 heavily armed police, capture the bad guys. Another triumph for Homeland Security - drinks all round.

26th May 2005, 03:01
Yeah, yeah... :rolleyes:

And the bad guys really are that stupid? :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

26th May 2005, 12:12
Isn't the answer obvious?

It's the Department of Homeland Security, who by implication are only interested in their Homeland - i.e. the USA.

So they couldn't really care less who boards the aircraft, or what they might or might be planning to do - unless there's the remotest chance the aircraft could reach the US of A with one of Bin Bombing's alledged mates on board.

That the global "war on terror" for you - it stops at the US frontier. If they were really interested in global security the airlines might be made aware of whom they are supposed not to be carrying.

26th May 2005, 20:43
if the checks take an hour, and are run against all international flights, how do they deal with the Canada/US hops that take 20 mins? The passengers would be out of the terminal before the buzzer on top of the TSA computer buzzes!

26th May 2005, 21:26
I'm probably just being silly. But I don't believe that the primary objective of all these measures is to necessarily prevent "baddies" from boarding aircraft per se. But it's a great way to collect data on everyone who flies just about anywhere in the world these days.

Way back in the '80s, anyone flying across the USA and changing planes had to go through immigration. Anywhere else, even today, they'd just keep the pax in the transit area.

When the Panama Canal was still US-controlled (I don't know if things have changed since), anything going through had to provide detailed drawings of the vessel (the usual tonnage certificate and draught / loading was never enough). Together with ownership, crew and passenger details, nothing was too much to demand before allowing passage.

No wonder that data storage equipment manufacturers who supply the US government need not worry about where tommorow's business will come from. What with all the spy satellites up there used to eavesdrop everyday communications on your phone, mobile, internet etc. they've probably already got their hands full for the next couple of millenia.

If you're upto no good and you haven't been fingered yet...you're probably not worth the bother?! :uhoh:

26th May 2005, 21:36
Do the US authorities really think that terrorists are stupid? The way they operate is appalling with no regard for human life including their own... Do they really think that if one was to choose to fly somewhere that they wouldn't aquire a set of false documents and travel under a name that WASN'T on the list??

26th May 2005, 21:39
... or fly to Canada and walk across the border. (Also on a false passport/name).

Not rocket science, is it? But those TSA/DHS bozos cannot see past their doughnut-inflated backsides.

26th May 2005, 21:51
You've been watching too many Bruce Willis films again !

26th May 2005, 22:25
ah, but aren't they great, the storylines mighty realistic :yuk: !!

27th May 2005, 08:48
fix the shortcoming by requiring airlines to turn over passenger manifests to Customs and Border Protection 60 minutes before the flight leaves
When is the manifest made up - at check-in, or after the pax actually board?

So if airlines have to submit their manifests 60 mins before departure, does that mean another 60 minutes added toi check-in time before the flight leaves? It's bad enough already at up to 2 hours:yuk:

For a one- or 2-hour flight, it's often faster to drive:eek: (and more convenient as you don't need the taxi to/from the a/p, and you can pick any departurture time you like:ok: )

27th May 2005, 10:02
Exsimguy, since the actual passenger manifest isn't known until all the passengers have boarded, a proposal to provide that sort of manifest 60 minutes before takeoff would mean the plane's doors would be closed and it would sit at the gate or on the ramp until the manifest had been cleared.

If the proposal was for the names of all ticketed passengers for a flight to be provided 60 minutes before departure, that probably wouldn't be so onerous. Departure would be delayed only to the extent that a passenger was newly ticketed after submission of the list.

Neither proposal addresses the problem of the Department of Homeland Security hiding names on the list from the airlines because the name is secret or top secret. So a passenger on the 'hidden list' is either boarded or the identity and placement on the list is revealed to both the passenger and the airline if boarding is denied.

And the Bruce Willis scenario works only in the movies and in the minds of incompetent officialdom.

27th May 2005, 18:02
SaturnV - that's what I suspected! I'm sure that US intenal flights could not stand that sort of "on-stand delay", where they are more use than Europeans to using aircraft like busses - "turn up 20 mins before departure"! (well, at least you used to be able to in USA)

And as somebody pointed out earlier, any of Bin-Liner's lot would hardly be travelling on a passport in their own name!

Sure, US security has got better since 9-11; as the holder of a (British) passport with pages on pages of "Gulf country" stamps, I seem to be grabbed every time for a "random extra security check". No complaints about that, I have a beard (since before I even knew where "The Gulf" was!) and after almost 20 years here, I certainly could have been "converted" to radical ideas. (in fact, I'm a lay practicing Christian but the CIA don't know that - whoops - they didn't :O )

But, having spent some time in the security business, I (IMHO) think that much of it is still "show" security. Admittedly "real" security is hard to do and usually expensive. "Laptops out of bags" is a good move - I won't go into details(!), "no nailfiles" is very debatable! Anyone noticed the "imflammables" and "deadly weapons" sold in the shops just prior to departure that many pax take on with them; Scotch, over-proof vodka better, makes a great Molotov Cocktail and a "Liverpool Leveller" - a broken bottle - is much more offensive than a nail-file! (of course, a good "islamic Extremist" - capitalisation intentional - would not break a bottle of Scotch to use as a weapon as he'd risk splashing "Harram" on himself - Sure!)

Some 20 years ago there was a move to plastic Scotch bottles in DF shops, which seems to have died (safer and lighter!) and why, why, do we not have DF on arrival, like DXB and others - save weight on take-off, space in the overheads, and gallons of inflammables in the cabins!
Or is that tooooo obvious an idea?:confused:

30th May 2005, 07:36
So what's the problem? Aren't you an unappreciative bunch!! Ya'll ought a be gracious to the US of ****ing A for saving the world and for setting the highest standards in how it's done. Surely, if the US hadn’t invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, hadn’t (virtually) squeezed the s**t out of those very, very evil people in Abu Ghraib, wouldn’t protect the worlds skies with the worlds finest TSA we'd all be wearing veils, growing our beards, praying five time times a day towards Mecca and living the Quran!
Thanks to the trinity (God, Jesus and the holly Bush) we still live in western civilized world.

… I'm just laughing my as of. This is some real great comedy.

30th May 2005, 10:47
Yeah, and quite a few Brits and Europeans wouldn't have been savagely murdered by "so-called Muslim Qaida" in certain Mid-East countries:mad:

Yeah, Kuwait had to be done, Afganistan had to be done, Iraq will one day (God-Willing, "Insha'Allah") be better for Gulf 2, but Bush & Bliar did that one with no international sanction. The UN has the right, but do Bush/Bliar?

We (the "Western World") gave ourselves no credibility by Gulf 2 without taking the legal UN course.

I'll probably get flamed for this post, but I'm "here on the ground" and hear what some people in this part of the world are saying. (mostly people who agree that it had to be done, but disagree about the way it was done)

30th May 2005, 11:11
I wonder how much a copy costs, it would be a great mailing list. Talk about a target audience. Tracking them down for the mail shots might be a bit tricky though.... :}