Posted by: N.S. Palmer | January 8, 2010

Who Was on the No-Fly List

By N.S. Palmer, Ph.D.

The “no-fly list” established by the Bush-Cheney regime in December 2001 was supposedly meant to stop terrorists from boarding U.S. commercial airplanes.

It can undoubtedly be used for that purpose, even if it’s ineffective and oppressive.

But it’s worth taking a moment to remember some of the people who were and were not on the no-fly list. It seems that the list can be used for other purposes unrelated to airplane security.

Not on the no-fly list

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused Christmas 2009 "pants bomber."

On the no-fly list

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA, 1932-2009)

  • The late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), a U.S. Senator since the 1960s and a Democratic critic of the Bush-Cheney regime.
  • Dr. Robert J. Johnson, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who was running for Congress as a Democrat.
  • Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), a civil rights advocate.
  • Walter F. Murphy, an ex-Marine decorated for heroism in the Korean War and now a political science professor at Princeton.  Murphy reported that the airline employee who refused to let him board asked if he had participated in any peace marches against the war on Iraq: “We ban a lot of people from flying because of that,” the employee said. Murphy had not, but he had criticized the Bush-Cheney regime in a lecture that was posted on the Web.
  • Jesselyn Radack, a former ethics advisor to the U.S. Justice Department who had argued for allowing legal representation to U.S. citizen John Lindh, captured in Afghanistan and accused of fighting for the Taliban.
  • Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa.
  • Cat Stevens, a popular singer who converted to Islam.

Given that the no-fly list is fairly simple for real terrorists to evade (as noted by security expert Bruce Schneier), one has to wonder why it exists at all.

Or perhaps one doesn’t have to wonder.

Copyright 2010 by N.S. Palmer. May be reproduced as long as byline, copyright notice, and URL ( are included.

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