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Number of Nightmare Stories on “No Fly List” Likely to Rise

The U.S. is expanding the “no fly list” in response to the attempted bombing on Christmas Day to improve security. The downside is there’s likely to be a growing number of nightmare stories like the one Rahinah Ibrahim experienced. Unfortunately, there’s too many already.

noflylist

By Mike McIntire
New York Times

Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford University doctoral student, arrived at San Francisco International Airport with her 14-year-old daughter for a 9 a.m. flight home to Malaysia. She asked for a wheelchair, having recently had a hysterectomy.

Instead, when a ticket agent found her name on the no-fly list, Ms. Ibrahim was handcuffed, searched and jailed amid a flurry of phone calls involving the local police, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. Two hours after her flight left, Ms. Ibrahim was released without explanation. She flew to Malaysia the next day.

But when she tried to return to the United States, she discovered that her visa had been revoked. And when she complained that she did not belong on a terrorist watch list, the government’s response came a year later in a form letter saying only that her case had been reviewed and that any changes warranted had been made.

Every year, thousands of people find themselves caught up in the government’s terrorist screening process. Some are legitimate targets of concern, others are victims of errors in judgment or simple mistaken identity.

Either way, their numbers are likely to rise as the Obama administration recalibrates the standards for identifying potential terrorists, in response to intelligence failures that let a would-be bomber fly to Detroit from Amsterdam last Christmas.

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