There’s a chance that next time you attempt to fly in a commercial airliner or cross the border into Canada or Mexico from the Continental United States you could be detained, searched, questioned and/or imprisoned for an extended period of time. Why? Because Uncle Sam says so!
As you may be aware, there is a list of people maintained by the US Government known as the “no fly” list or the “terror watch list.” Officially, the list is known as the U.S. Government’s Consolidated Terrorist Watch List. Who’s on the list? Well, it’s secret, of course. But based on circumstantial information, it is estimated that up to 1,000,000 (that’s 1 MILLION) people may be currently on the list. Again, no one knows for sure.
Later in the discussion we’ll give you some tips on how to figure out if you are on the list.
In the meantime, how does one go about getting on “The List”?
You don’t have to be a bad guy; plenty of average, law-abiding Americans have discovered the hard way that they have been black-balled by the powers that be. Landing on the terrorist watch list can be as easy as paying cash for an airline ticket, being part of a group that itself is under scrutiny by the US Government (think Tea Party, Green movement, etc.), being a journalist who is critical of the white house, having a similar name to someone listed, simple paperwork errors or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m sure there are other ways. Use your imagination.
Even well-known politicians, recording artists and nuns have been detained (Senator Ted Kennedy, Cat Stevens and Sister Glenn Anne McPhee, respectively) using the Terrorist Watch List compiled by US Government agencies.
Here are some suggestions for alternative means of transportation if you find yourself on the No Fly List. The purpose of this list is not for fleeing justice; it is instead for those who may have been disenfranchised by being listed on the “No Fly” list or those who don’t wish to have their privacy violated by the TSA:
Travel by land in a vehicle. Many people refuse to fly for a number of reasons. Enjoy the sites on the way all the while being safely on the ground. Yes, it may take longer to reach your destination, but there are no official intrastate border checks (yet). Of course this only works for travel within the United States. One note: there are now federal checkpoints all over the southwest, including Texas and California. So even on the ground one cannot always escape the reaching hand of “Uncle Sam.”
Travel by boat when moving from country to country. Traveling by boat can be scenic and fun. Many other countries don’t over-scrutinize travelers like the US has become infamous for doing.
Travel by train. Trains are getting faster and more available for land travel both inside and outside the US. It’s an affordable and reliable means of transportation.
How do you determine if you’re on “the list”?
The way most people determine that they have been “black-listed” from flying on commercial flights is by attempting to fly somewhere. Once you are listed and you attempt to fly, the typical procedure is for TSA or other security personnel to pull the listed person aside for interviewing and search. If this happens to you, it’s very likely that you have been listed.
Another way to find out if you’re on the list is through company background checks. While applying for a job, you may be required to submit to background checks. A thorough background check will likely reveal whether you are listed on a government watchlist.
Interesting articles on the subject: