Saturday, October 07, 2006

The No-Fly List: reason enough to dispense with the GOP

This is not a new problem. I've written about it before. The FBI's No-Fly List is a "test" for security threats. It's a test with a positive predictive value of, approximately, zero. That is, the overwhelming number of alarms are false alarms. Another story:
Marginal Revolution: Another reason to give your kid a weird name:

... Gary Smith, John Williams and Robert Johnson are some of those names. Kroft talked to 12 people with the name Robert Johnson, all of whom are detained almost every time they fly. The detentions can include strip searches and long delays in their travels.

'Well, Robert Johnson will never get off the list,' says Donna Bucella, who oversaw the creation of the list and has headed up the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center since 2003. She regrets the trouble they experience, but chalks it up to the price of security in the post-9/11 world. 'They're going to be inconvenienced every time ... because they do have the name of a person who's a known or suspected terrorist,' says Bucella...
Beyond the inconvenience and cost to the innocent, this inanity results in increased security costs and increased security risk. A burglar alarm that rings every 10 minutes means that resources are misdirected from effective to ineffective measures.

This is achingly stupid. So how does it connect with the GOP? The new GOP has a strong anti-rational, anti-intellectual, anti-science streak (See: The Republican War on Science). This is fundamental, and it means stupidities like the No-Fly List are never fixed. The No-Fly List is reason alone to remove the GOP from office.

Incidentally, the current FBI is a disaster. I'd love to see the WSJ news team do an investigative review of the FBI.

Update 10/6: Incidentally, the comments on the 60 Minutes article (follow the MR link) are well worth reading. If you're on the List, your best bet is to inform security beforehand and give them all of the material they'll need (passport, etc). I loved the comment about 'terrorists with digital cameras', I can't figure out if that's satirical or genuine. Lastly, an obvious workaround, other than replacing the GOP and FBI, is for persons on the list to be offered the option to enroll in the Fed's Traveler ID program.

Almost forgot. Look for the wingnuts to accuse 60 Minutes of treason. Sigh. The 60 Minutes article is genuine journalism; and that's a profession in crisis. I'd like to see a 'donate' button on every news page so I could contribute to journalists doing great work.

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