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View Full Version : Airline captain, lawyer, child on terror 'watch list'


SteelersMongol
08-20-2008, 01:57 AM
SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- James Robinson is a retired Air National Guard brigadier general and a commercial pilot for a major airline who flies passenger planes around the country.

James Robinson is a retired brigadier general and a commercial pilot. His name is on the terrorist "watch list."

He has even been certified by the Transportation Security Administration to carry a weapon into the profanityfilterprofanityfilterprofanityfilterprofa nityfilterpit as part of the government's defense program should a terrorist try to commandeer a plane.

But there's one problem: James Robinson, the pilot, has difficulty even getting to his plane because his name is on the government's terrorist "watch list."

That means he can't use an airport kiosk to check in; he can't do it online; he can't do it curbside. Instead, like thousands of Americans whose names match a name or alias used by a suspected terrorist on the list, he must go to the ticket counter and have an agent verify that he is James Robinson, the pilot, and not James Robinson, the terrorist.

"Shocking's a good word; frustrating," Robinson -- the pilot -- said. "I'm carrying a weapon, flying a multimillion-dollar jet with passengers, but I'm still screened as, you know, on the terrorist watch list."

The American Civil Liberties Union estimates more than 1 million names have been added to the watch list since the September 11 attacks.

The FBI, which manages the Terrorist Screening Database, disputes that figure. It says that there are about 400,000 actual people on the list and that about 95 percent of those people are not U.S. citizens.

"There's going to come a point in time where everybody's on the list," Robinson said.

Robinson is not the only person with that name flagged on the list.

Since airing a story this summer about how Correspondent Drew Griffin began getting told he was on the watch list -- coincidentally after he wrote a series critical of the TSA's Federal Air Marshal Service -- CNN has received dozens of e-mails and iReport submissions from viewers who also have found themselves on the watch list.

It turns out that three people named "James Robinson" found their names on the list in early 2005. iReport.com: Do you think your name is on the list?

Besides the airline pilot, there's the James Robinson who served as U.S. attorney in Detroit, Michigan, and as an assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration; and James Robinson of California, who loves tennis, swimming and flying to the East Coast to see his grandmother.

He's 8.

The third-grader has been on the watch list since he was 5 years old. Asked whether he is a terrorist, he said, "I don't know."

Though he doesn't even know what a terrorist is, he is embarrassed that trips to the airport cause a ruckus, said his mother, Denise Robinson.

Denise Robinson said that no one in the government even told her her son is on the watch list but that it wasn't hard to figure out. Checking in at curbside three years ago, the family was told they couldn't get boarding passes and were hustled to the ticket counter.

She said the ticket agent made a number of phone calls and kept asking which among her husband and two sons was James.

"And all of a sudden he says, 'How old is he?' " Robinson recounted. She said she responded numerous times, "He's 5."

The agent handed them paperwork and refused to tell them what the problem was but urged them to fill out the forms. The documents were Department of Homeland Security paperwork to get off the watch list.

Not knowing which of the three might be targeted, she sent in the required documents for the entire family -- and got back one letter, addressed to James.

Congress has demanded that the TSA and Homeland Security fix the problems with the list that are making travel so difficult for so many Americans. Prominent lawmakers, including Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and civil rights leader-turned-Georgia congressman John Lewis, also have encountered watch list difficulties.

"I want the burden of clearing this up to be on the agencies that are the holders of responsibilities: the Department of Homeland Security and the attorney general of the United States," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who has called for investigations into why Griffin wound up on the list after his critical reporting.

The FBI won't confirm any name on the list. And the TSA says Kennedy and Lewis aren't on the list, even though they have been stopped.

But although the list is clearly bloated with misidentifications by every official's account, CNN has learned that it may also be ineffective. Numerous people, including all three Robinsons, have figured out that there are ways not to get flagged by the watch list.

Denise Robinson says she tells the skycaps her son is on the list, tips heavily and is given boarding passes. And booking her son as "J. Pierce Robinson" also has let the family bypass the watch list hassle.

Capt. James Robinson said he has learned that "Jim Robinson" and "J.K. Robinson" are not on the list.

And Griffin has tested its effectiveness. When he runs his first and middle name together when making a reservation online, he has no problem checking in at the airport.

The TSA has said the problem lies with the airlines and threatened to fine airlines that tell passengers they are on the watch list. That didn't sit well with the airlines, who through the Air Transport Association said they have been waiting for four years for the TSA to come up with a fix.

Those comments apparently sparked a recent meeting between TSA chief Kip Hawley and airline representatives. Following that meeting, a spokesman for the ATA said the airlines and TSA would cooperate to make things work.

But then last week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff seemed to re-ignite the controversy over who is to blame for the watch list failure.

"We told the airlines we would allow them, if someone gave a birth date, to exclude that person from the list," Chertoff said during a question-and-answer session at the University of Southern California.

"Let the person get their boarding pass directly at home or at the kiosk, just like everyone else. Some airlines have done this; some have chosen not to because they don't want to spend the money."

Chertoff then implied that the financially strapped airlines might comply if they could make money from the process.

"And their attitude is, 'Well, TSA gets the blame for it,' so I guess if they can do what they are doing now with food and can charge you for it -- but I hate to suggest that. I may give them an idea," he said.

The ATA, the trade association for the airlines, said carriers will work with the TSA and said enrolling in a frequent-flyer program could help.

"We are now awaiting TSA's announced January 2009 implementation of the Secure Flight Program, which is expected to reduce the number of misidentified passengers," the association said in a written statement.

"In the meantime, the airlines worked collaboratively with TSA to further minimize unnecessary passenger inconvenience. ... A key part of that short-term solution relies on frequent-flier program enrollment to help resolve misidentification issues and as a result we are urging passengers to enroll."

All the Robinsons are enrolled in frequent-flyer programs, and all have filled out the paperwork that Chertoff said is an easy way to get them off the watch list. But it has been three years since all three James Robinsons filled out those forms, and their cases have yet to be resolved.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/08/19/tsa.watch.list/index.html

What do you guys think? Now when you look back, do you think it did more good than any damage? I'd rather not have the list at all if it messes with innocent people's lives like this.

TroysBadDawg
08-20-2008, 03:49 AM
Another knee jerk reaction bu the powers to be. Also more losing of ones freedoms.

It will not stop the bad guys, like the Robinson's the bad guys will have also found a way around it.

Galax Steeler
08-20-2008, 04:07 AM
Something needs to be corrected that is a flaw in the system.

TroysBadDawg
08-20-2008, 04:13 AM
Something needs to be corrected that is a flaw in the system.

Your talking the bureaucracy here, they never fix anything just make it more confusing. IE. the IRS.

revefsreleets
08-20-2008, 08:02 AM
95% of our post 9/11 overreaction is a complete waste of time, effort and money...we are busy protecting against things that already worked and won't be tried again, and aren't prepared to catch "what's next".

Mosca
08-20-2008, 11:45 AM
100% agreed with everything said. And the list doesn't even work, all a person has to do is buy a ticket using a permutation of their name.

Rev, think Ender's Game.

rbryan
08-20-2008, 11:51 AM
Boo Hoo, I have to prove who I am at the ticket counter everytime I fly too and I'm pretty sure I'm not on any terrorist watchlists. At least this guy gets to pack some heat in case of any problems, where do I sign up for that??

I have no problem with screening everyone that gets on a plane if it makes it less likely for a repeat of 911

Preacher
08-20-2008, 12:07 PM
Boo Hoo, I have to prove who I am at the ticket counter everytime I fly too and I'm pretty sure I'm not on any terrorist watchlists. At least this guy gets to pack some heat in case of any problems, where do I sign up for that??

I have no problem with screening everyone that gets on a plane if it makes it less likely for a repeat of 911

Thank you.

What people don't remember is that flying isn't a right... it is a privilege. The biggest problems at the airports are the pampered children in adult bodies that think they are more important than everyone else.

Go early, check in, show your ID two or three times, get scanned... then pull out a book and read it until you get on the flight.

Oh yeah, and one other thing... Shut up... everyone else is going through it... the people who work there aren't getting enjoyment out of making your life bad... and we STILL don't have the tight security that other nations have.

Dang we are spoiled.

Dino 6 Rings
08-20-2008, 04:52 PM
Exactly how many US Planes have been hi-jacked since 911 again???

Oh right...zero...yeah...I'll take the watchlist.

revefsreleets
08-20-2008, 06:17 PM
One thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other. How many planes were hijacked BEFORE 9/11?

We don't have homegrown terrorists, we just don't (yeah, there's the occasional guy, but this isn't Pakistan or Palestine where these dudes grow on trees). Our Muslim population is treated fairly and with respect, and they assimilate well. The elements to create terrorists just aren't present here. The one accidental benefit of 9/11 was creating a hyper-vigilante civilian population, ESPECIALLY among our own Muslim/Arab citizenry, and they literally self-police themselves.

But limiting the kinds of liquids people can carry-on and making people take their shoes off is, for the most part, retarded nonsense that wastes time and money. In that regard, the terrorists won.

NJarhead
08-20-2008, 06:29 PM
A minor inconvenience considering the potential consequence of NOT screening:

http://www.radarheinrich.de/wtc-attack.jpg

They may or may not try this again. Would you be willing to take that chance with YOUR family on board? I doubt it.

revefsreleets
08-20-2008, 06:38 PM
The point is we are not being smart about this. We are NOT being proactive, we are being reactive. If there's another attack, it'll be because we were looking backwards, not forward.

And it is NOT a minor inconvenience. It's billions of dollars misspent each and every year chasing shadows and bogeymen...

NJarhead
08-20-2008, 06:46 PM
The point is we are not being smart about this. We are NOT being proactive, we are being reactive. If there's another attack, it'll be because we were looking backwards, not forward.

And it is NOT a minor inconvenience. It's billions of dollars misspent each and every year chasing shadows and bogeymen...

No longer being proactive is what caused 9/11 (Thanks to Mr. Clinton trimming down the community of "personal intelligence"). Screening, lists, searches are the most basic of proactive approaches there is. I can assure you there are thousands of other methods and campaigns that none of us will ever now about that take the proactive approach to our national security. We still have our freedoms, but due to global terrorism some compromises had to be made. So far, I myself have yet to be unreasonably inconvenienced. Nor do I feel that my Constitutional rights have been violated due to anti-terror security.

Those idiot gun ban liberals are another story. But they've been around since well before 9/11.

revefsreleets
08-20-2008, 06:55 PM
The trimming down of the intelligence community happened long before Clinton. Try Carter. Check out Stansfield Turner (CIA Director 77-81). Dude destroyed the HUMINT capability of the CIA. It's like just about everything else, WAY too complicated to be argued in neat little succinct statements.

I will always feel that we were idiots before 9/11 and now we are even bigger idiots who are just throwing money and a (new) bloated government agency at the problem.

NJarhead
08-20-2008, 06:58 PM
The trimming down of the intelligence community happened long before Clinton. Try Carter. Check out Stansfield Turner (CIA Director 77-81). Dude destroyed the HUMINT capability of the CIA. It's like just about everything else, WAY too complicated to be argued in neat little succinct statements.

I will always feel that we were idiots before 9/11 and now we are even bigger idiots who are just throwing money and a (new) bloated government agency at the problem.

Are you saying we were weak in the intelligence community throughout the Reagan years??? Becuase, you'll never get me to agree with on that.

I'm not saying that our government is perfect, but that article has implied weighing a silly oversight with our personal and national security. I'm not buying into that crap.

revefsreleets
08-20-2008, 07:07 PM
We relied WAY to heavily on SIGINT and our technology, and moved away from "boots on the ground". Yes, during the Reagan years, the William Casey years, everything centered on the Russians to the exclusion of all else. We also funded and trained the same guys who planned 9/11 under Reagan, soooooo....as I said, neat little arguments don't fit huge complex problems.

tony hipchest
08-20-2008, 07:26 PM
im completely in agreement with revs on this on. clinton is the scapegoat meat on a bush sandwich.

bush I's bogus "war on drugs" is proof enough that you dont solve a problem by simply saying no new taxes and then throwing tons of taxpayer dollars at it.

bush II's "war on terrorism" is much of the same. clinton has nothing to do with it.

it wasnt bush's toughened airline restrictions that had richard "shoebomber" houshmandzadeh fail.

Mosca
08-20-2008, 07:31 PM
Thank you.

What people don't remember is that flying isn't a right... it is a privilege. The biggest problems at the airports are the pampered children in adult bodies that think they are more important than everyone else.

Go early, check in, show your ID two or three times, get scanned... then pull out a book and read it until you get on the flight.

Oh yeah, and one other thing... Shut up... everyone else is going through it... the people who work there aren't getting enjoyment out of making your life bad... and we STILL don't have the tight security that other nations have.

Dang we are spoiled.

Flying isn't a right, or a privilege... it is a service that you pay for. The biggest problem at airports is that the rules are pointed in completely the wrong direction.

This stuff wouldn't bother me in the least, if it actually worked. The entire point of the article is that these people easily got around the system by altering their names slightly, which means that the bad guys have probably already figured that out, considering that they are highly motivated to do so. And THAT means that the whole idea of monitoring the transportation system by given names is pretty useless, COSTS A LOT OF YOURS AND MY MONEY, and pisses a lot of people off needlessly. The "James Robinson" that they are watching for has probably been around the world 5 times as "Preacher" by now.

TroysBadDawg
08-20-2008, 08:16 PM
The rules are being made in the wrong direction. People wait years to get a chance to immigrate here, but all you have to do is head to the southern border and you can walk across with hundreds of others. How many of you think the terrorists haven't thought of that. It doesn't take rocket science to realize that.

stlrtruck
08-20-2008, 08:57 PM
I would agree that there's a lot of money being thrown around in the wrong direction. I also agree that some of the changes that have come about are not that much of an inconvenience - a necessary evil if you will.

However, I do believe that our government has not been as proactive as they could be in creating a more secure country. I'm not going to point fingers at Dems or Repubs on this one....THEY ALL GET THE FINGER!!! It's ridiculous that the current leaders of this country can not come together for the betterment of the country instead of the linings of their pockets!

tony hipchest
08-20-2008, 09:24 PM
but all you have to do is head to the southern border and you can walk across with hundreds of others. How many of you think the terrorists haven't thought of that. It doesn't take rocket science to realize that.there are measures in place and plenty of technology and it isnt a dumb (waste of money) wall like recently suggested.

if potential terrorists dont get their throats slit while in mehico, i welcome them to make the trek across death valley, saguaro desert, the jornado del muerte, or big bend national park (hey! lets jouney across the most desolate part of texas!)

sorry, i just dont feel too much threat from hundereds of illegals who cross for nothing more to pick our lettuce (unless they plan on pissing on the green onions they pick and send to Chi-Chi's).

i am certain you know that it is the NORTHERN boarder with canada, that is the longest UNPROTECTED border in the world. terrorists will take the easiest way. and right now, mexico and airlines isnt it.

as far as airport metal detectors go, i can easilly get through with a knife (and have done so with my cigarette lighter too). i never remove my gold chains, ring, belt, watch, bracelets, and definitely dont sweat the rivets on my jeans.

amazing what that technology wont pick up if you simply walk through with a sideways stride. (and i learned this from one of the minimum wage security dudes probably on work furlough).

i used to wear a dogchain that couldnt be removed w/o pliers and the screeners didnt wanna deal with the trouble, so they simply told me how to get through.

stlrtruck
08-20-2008, 09:34 PM
there are measures in place and plenty of technology and it isnt a dumb (waste of money) wall like recently suggested.

if potential terrorists dont get their throats slit while in mehico, i welcome them to make the trek across death valley, saguaro desert, the jornado del muerte, or big bend national park (hey! lets jouney across the most desolate part of texas!)

sorry, i just dont feel too much threat from hundereds of illegals who cross for nothing more to pick our lettuce (unless they plan on pissing on the green onions they pick and send to Chi-Chi's).

i am certain you know that it is the NORTHERN boarder with canada, that is the longest UNPROTECTED border in the world. terrorists will take the easiest way. and right now, mexico and airlines isnt it.

as far as airport metal detectors go, i can easilly get through with a knife (and have done so with my cigarette lighter too). i never remove my gold chains, ring, belt, watch, bracelets, and definitely dont sweat the rivets on my jeans.

amazing what that technology wont pick up if you simply walk through with a sideways stride. (and i learned this from one of the minimum wage security dudes probably on work furlough).

i used to wear a dogchain that couldnt be removed w/o pliers and the screeners didnt wanna deal with the trouble, so they simply told me how to get through.

In that whole post, the one thing that scares me the most is that they're telling you how to get through it without being detected (which I would love to watch one day - not that I don't believe you but just to see it) but who else is hearing them tell you these things?

Preacher
08-20-2008, 11:33 PM
In that whole post, the one thing that scares me the most is that they're telling you how to get through it without being detected (which I would love to watch one day - not that I don't believe you but just to see it) but who else is hearing them tell you these things?

In between college and seminary I need a job, so guess what I did? Yep, you got it.... went to work at the airport doing that very thing.

You weren't supposed to go through sideways... if we saw people doing it, we would tell them to back up and come back through again...

I did however, walk through with the practice gun in a specific manner (will NOT say how) and did not have the detector go off.

yeah, that scared me.

At first I though how ignorant to scan grannies... then I realized.... a grannie could easily be told to carry a box with her or her grandchild that lives with her would be killed.

What does she know? On comes the box. It is that kind of absolute paranoia that drives security--and the real question is, are they paranoid ENOUGH?

tony hipchest
08-21-2008, 08:26 AM
on the lines of this counter terrorism thread, what a nice headline to wake up to-

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080820/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/fema_phones_hacked

Homeland Security hacked
A hacker used a FEMA phone system to make 400 calls to the Middle East and Asia.
....

This type of hacking is very low-tech and "old school," said John Jackson, a St. Louis-based security consultant. It was popular 10 to 15 years ago.

....

"In this case it's sort of embarrassing that it happened to FEMA themselves — FEMA being a child of DHS, with calls going to the Middle East," Johnson said.

Dino 6 Rings
08-22-2008, 12:44 PM
take off your shoes, empty your pockets, do not bring certain items onto a plane...or do not fly. Its that simple.

The terrorists have not won. They can't win, their's is a cult of death, and pure Evil. I am cheering for the good guys.

NJarhead
08-22-2008, 04:41 PM
Well, apparently Clinton DID ask for an increased budget, but his Democratic Law Making Cronies decided that "The Intelligence Community needed to share the burdon of the budget cuts."

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE7DE1531F93BA25755C0A9659582 60


BTW - I apologize for the late response. Computer issues...

revefsreleets
08-26-2008, 02:18 PM
take off your shoes, empty your pockets, do not bring certain items onto a plane...or do not fly. Its that simple.

The terrorists have not won. They can't win, their's is a cult of death, and pure Evil. I am cheering for the good guys.

Uh-huh...know what the cost is for our wonderfully efficient government to administer these few simple rules (which aren't all that few or simple, either)? It's staggering. And 99.99999% waste.

The terrorists HAVE won, but they only won that battle...they will ultimately fail because the world will adapt and make them superfluous...but we, as a people, are just stupid enough to do everything idiotic we can to make that transition take way too long.