Walter Murphy and the No-Fly List...

There's a lot of attention being paid to this account of someone being added to the "extensive-screening" list for allegedly political reasons.  There's frankly no reason to get excited about it.  I mean, let's consider what we know about the incident:
So, what actual penalty was this person subjected to?  He was searched more closely than the average joe, but so are lots of other people.  He wasn't barred from his travel, he wasn't hurt, and he doesn't even allege something seriously invasive (such as a strip search).

So, in other words, he was delayed a little bit.  That's not going to add up to a lot of damages if he sues.

Now let's consider what we don't know:
The only source we have for all of the really inflammatory stuff in his account, even taken at face value, is an anonymous TSA/airline employee.  What are the odds this person actually knows why and how people are placed on the no-fly list?  What are the odds he would discuss the real reasons with someone actually on the list? 

In short, this story would be an appalling abuse of power and violation of the First Amendment... if, and only if, the majority of the allegation in the account are true, including especially and necessarily those allegations regarding the political motives for placing Mr. Murphy on the list.  Absent those motivations, which as described are not proven and in fact not even credible, there's not really any story here.

It's just someone who got selected for additional screening and attributed inflammatory reasons for the selection, whether on his own or with prompting from someone else.

The real story would be on what criteria the no-fly list actually uses.  Not what it allegedly uses, but what it actually uses -- with evidence. 

Part of the problem with the no-fly list and other security measures under our present government is that we don't know what they are and what criteria they are using to select the maybe-wolves.  That secrecy makes it very hard to evaluate the measures for whether they make sense, and whether they violate Constitutional rights.

So, perhaps the individual involved here should sue to determine whether the reasons he was given for his selection were accurate.  If they are accurate, he's probably got a story worthy of national attention -- not to mention a nice settlement or judgement.  But until then, forgive me if I don't get all excited and worked up.

All we really know here is that someone was delayed for a few hours and was given an inflammatory explanation for why. 

UPDATE: Someone else thinks the same.

This entry was published Mon Apr 09 22:55:38 CDT 2007 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2007-04-09 22:55:38.0. [Tweet]

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