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ddeclue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-01-06 12:03 PM
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Two letters of transit...
Edited on Wed Nov-01-06 12:09 PM by ddeclue
Perhaps the best movie ever made is the 1942 classic,"Casablanca". It featured Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre and many other stars of the golden age of cinema.

The entire plot of "Casablanca" centered around "two letters of transit" allowing the bearers "to board a plane and fly to Lisbon and from there to the New World and America."

In fact "Casablanca" opens with a number of scenes featuring lines like "these papers expired three weeks ago, you'll have to come along with us."

Well folks, it's not just in "old movies" that this happens - the government "needs to see your papers" today too and will stop and hold you if they don't like what they see - just ask Senator Ted Kennedy or Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez about their experiences with the Transportation Security Administration and the "no fly" list.

In the real world, it seems that only prominent Democrats, anti-Bush dissidents, and 6 month old infants are apparently on this magic "list" for it is they who end up being stopped by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the airport terminal.

This happened again the other day to outspoken Democratic Congresswoman from California, Loretta Sanchez, herself a long-time critic of the "no fly" list, when she was denied boarding on a United Airlines flight by the "list".

Previously, Senator Ted Kennedy, of all people, was stopped by TSA in August of 2004 and told that HE couldn't board a plane because HE was on the list.

Exactly which "terrorist" did the TSA think Ted Kennedy was when they stopped him anyways?

Perhaps Congresswoman Sanchez is not well known outside of California, but WHO in America couldn't pick Ted Kennedy out of a lineup?

After all, Ted Kennedy is one of the longest serving men in the Senate, a seven term Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, a 1980 Democratic candidate for President, and the current senior member of the Kennedy political dynasty.

His brothers were President John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, United States Attorney General, New York Senator, and 1968 Democratic Presidential candidate - both of whom were assassinated in the 1960's.

His father was among many other things, the famous FDR Ambassador to England Joseph P. Kennedy and his nephew is the current United States Congressman from Rhode Island. (They only have one.)

So again, just who did that TSA agent think he was talking to at the terminal gate?

Returning once again to the case of Congresswoman Sanchez, there are just FAR too many Sanchezes in the phone book for this "no fly" story to even pass the laugh test.

For the last 2 years I have done extensive voter database volunteer work for the local Democratic Party and for Democratic candidates here in Orange County Florida and also to a lesser extent for candidates in surrounding counties preparing voter contact lists for candidates and campaigns.

I can tell you then, from much first hand experience, and through direct access to a very large volume of empirical data (a statewide database of 10.5 million Florida voters, and a local database of 482,226 Orange County voters), what your common sense ought to already be telling you - that in a country of 300,000,000 people and a world of 6,000,000,000 people there are lots of people with the same exact name.

The "no fly" list, then, is simply NOT a useful tool in stopping "terrorists" given the number of duplicate names in the phone book and the fact that would-be "terrorists" could simply legally change their name to George Bush, John Roberts, Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, Rush Limbaugh, or Dennis Hastert if they wanted to do so anyways.

Does anyone remember the anonymous agents "Mr. Smith" and "Mr. Jones" from the movie "Men In Black"?

In Latin America they would be Seores "Diaz" y "Sanchez".

Two of the most common Hispanic names in America are Diaz and Sanchez - they are basically the equivalent of Smith and Jones to "Anglos" like me.

Here in Orange County Florida, where I live, there are 909 active registered voters with a last name of Sanchez and 1,314 with a last name of Diaz listed where there is a total number of active registered voters describing themselves as Hispanic of 80,749 and a total active voter registration of 482,226 as of October 6th, 2006.

This compares with 3,987 Smiths and 2,464 Joneses when there are 358,958 white and black active voters registered in the same database.

If anything, within the Hispanic population, the Orange County Florida voter database demonstrates that Sanchez and Diaz are MORE common than Smith and Jones are amongst whites and blacks. One in 88 Hispanic voters is named Sanchez and one in 61 is named Diaz while only one in 90 among white and black voters is named Smith and only one in 146 is named Jones.

A quick, free internet search of reveals that:

There are 52 Loretta Sanchez listings just for the state of California where the Congresswoman is an elected official and simply too many to display for the country (>125)

CA :


I didn't bother to research all 50 states but I did try 9 states where I thought I was most likely to find a "Loretta Sanchez" and this is what I found

Loretta Sanchez Listings by state from

STATE Number of Loretta Sanchez Listings
CA 52
NM 49
TX 39
CO 21
NY 9
FL 5
AZ 4
HI 1
NJ 1

That's 181 Loretta Sanchez listings on for just these nine most likely states. Some of the listings are obviously duplicates but even if we assume that out of these 181+ listings there were only 60 Loretta Sanchezes running around the country, then if there WERE a "terrorist" named Loretta Sanchez, (which seems highly doubtful), it therefore seems like it would be an exercise in futility to me to put such a person's name on a such a list.

It might, at first glance, seem OK to say "stop them all" if this were just one name on a one name "list" but remember that there are tens of thousands of such names on the list and there are intentional variations of spelling being applied to each of these names to make similar sounding names like "Bush", "Busch", and "Butch" all show up on the list.

And again, remember, nothing stops would-be terrorists from immigrating to Europe, Canada, Austrailia or other Western nations and then simply changing their name a few times before immigrating here. Remember that the "shoe bomber" who tried to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 with a bomb hidden in his shoes on December 22, 2001 was legally named Richard Colvin Reid not Tariq Raja ( طارق راجا ) or Abdel Rahim ( عبدالرحیم ) which were other aliases he was known to use according to the FBI. (see: )

Nothing stops them, either, from forging documents, or bribing or blackmailing foreign or domestic officials in charge of such credentialling activities, or simply stealing the documents from Westerners travelling abroad.

The only value, then, in putting such a common name as "Loretta Sanchez" on a "no fly" list is to allow the administration to have an excuse to selectively inconvenience and harass persons that it deems to be troublemakers.

In the old days there was a process was known as "guilt by association" but today it should be called "guilt by relational database", and it is, at the very least, the obvious consequence of ridiculous applications of so-called "data mining" techniques to large scale databases of citizens and consumers.

Are we just supposed to simply take President Bush and the TSA at their word that it is legitimate to put just anybody's name into a "no fly" database? (or as we have also seen to purge their name from a voter database as a "felon"?)

There is ZERO oversight into this process and very little recourse if you are so selected for such harassment. It amounts to arbitrary punishment without trial and to not being able to confront the charges against you - a form of internal exile, if you will, since it becomes difficult to travel from NY to CA if you are forced to drive everywhere - in short it deprives you of your Ninth Amendment right to freedom of movement without due process of law.

It was precisely to STOP this kind of official harassment that the Founders created the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments when they wrote our Bill of Rights. It was also one of their chief complaints against King George III, in the Declaration of Independence when they proclaimed that "He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance."

"No fly" has become the new Nixonian "enemies list".

For those of you not old enough to remember and those of you who slept through history class, Richard Nixon used to have people he didn't like audited by the IRS, because in the early 1970's, they were the one of the few government agencies with computers powerful enough to know about every American that also had tools at their disposal, such as the tax audit, to make those Americans lives miserable.

In fact Nixon's "enemies list" was explicitly cited in the Articles of Impeachment that were prepared against him just prior to his resignation:

"He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner."

-from Articles of Impeachment, Article II, Paragraph 1, adopted by the House Committee on the Judiciary, 27th of July, 1974.

In the cases of Kennedy and Sanchez, the "no-fly" list goes a step further in that it is an attempt to intimidate and coerce a member of another branch of government - the legislative - which creates a major Constitutional crisis. The three branches are intended to be separate and co-equal. There can be no democracy in our country if the White House can so easily intimidate and harass our elected representatives in Congress and the Senate.

The "no fly" list also hearkens back to the McCarthyism of the 1950's and the communist "blacklist" that prevented thousands of people from getting jobs and punished them for their political views and often times merely based on second and third hand innuendo and hearsay. In the end, the McCarthy "blacklist" was no more useful in finding actual communists than today's "no-fly" list is in finding actual "terrorists".

"No fly" doesn't work.

It is the classic and eternal witch-hunt.

The pattern of abuse of power with the "no fly" list exhibited thus far is obvious and the future potential for abuse based on similar past lists like Nixon's "enemies list" or McCarthy's "black list" are vast and they far outweigh any possible value to society in "protecting us" from the "terrorists", or the "communists" or who ever the current bogeyman might happen to be.

"No fly" must be ended if we are to save our democracy.

Douglas J. De Clue
Orlando, FL
uh... we better make that "George P. Burdell" from Atlanta, Georgia

Doug De Clue is a professional computer programmer, a degreed engineer, a licensed pilot, and a graduate of Georgia Tech living in Orlando Florida.

He is also actively involved in Democratic politics in Orange County and in Florida and has worked on various campaigns in the past two years from the Kerry Presidential campaign down to school board and county commission races where he has applied his computer database skills to helping Democrats get elected to office. When he isn't doing that, he's a guest blogger on
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