Monday, December 12, 2005


BACKGROUND: Media Giraffe Project advisor John Graham and "no fly"

John Graham, President
The Giraffe Heroes Project
360 221 7989


As you know, I was put on the Federal No Fly Watch List in June.
That's a list of persons "who pose, or are suspected of posing, a
threat to civil aviation or national security" and it was created to
help keep terrorists off airplanes.

My name was put on that List with no explanation and no avenue for
getting off. I'm allowed to fly, but must receive special permission
every time.

In early July I wrote an article, "Who's Watching the Watch List," on
my situation, and that story was picked up by print publications, TV
and radio all over the country; most recently, it was carried by
Reuters. It appeared on over 25,000 websites and blogs. The media
campaign has understandably died down from this initial flurry.

Last month I finally received a reply from the Transportation
Security Administration, in response to the pile of notarized
documents I mailed them in July, as per their instructions for what
to do if you think you don't belong on the List.

The TSA reply was an insult to intelligence. It told me they had
"verified my identity," whatever that meant, and it did not remove
my name from the List. Every time I go to the airport, I am still
told that I am on the Watch List and then subjected to extra
screening and delays.

So I sent their letter back to the TSA, demanding again that their
abusive procedures be changed, not just for me but also for the
thousands of other innocents Americans stuck on this List. No reply
yet and I am not holding my breath.

I spent two full days in Washington DC in October lobbying both
Senate and House offices. I now have a half a dozen allies in the
Congress who know my face and my story.

I also met at length with the ACLU, and am steadily coordinating
legislative and legal strategies with them. A local Republican
friend has offered to get me a hearing at the libertarian Cato
Institute. That's important because this is one of the few genuinely
nonpartisan issues in the country and I want the support of the Right
as well as the Left.

This week, I am pressing key Senators from both side of the aisle
(Feingold. Craig, Sununu, Murkowski, Durbin, Salazar and Leahy) to
filibuster to block the extension of the Patriot Act.

My pro bono lawyer in San Diego says he will be ready to launch a
civil lawsuit against the government in January. I still have to
decide whether that is the best tactic.

I worked for over fifteen years on national security affairs and I
know it's important to stop truly dangerous people from getting on
planes. But the TSA Watch List and its potential successor, the
"Secure Flight" program, with their total disregard of due process,
are an intolerable abuse of my civil liberties and those of thousands
of others. Surely we can create an air traffic protection program
that actually stops the people who pose a genuine threat.

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