Mistakes on Terrorist Watch List Affect Even Children

JOE SHARKEY
NY Times
Tuesday, Sept 9, 2008

WE’VE heard a lot about airline passengers with common names — Michael Kirby, David Nelson — who are routinely flagged at airports because their names match or resemble one on the federal terrorist watch list.

But it isn’t just adults who get stopped, as Mila Harris, of New York City, told me the other day.

Ms. Harris and her husband — who, she said, had asked that his name not be used because of concerns that he would be flagged himself on business trips — often travel with their twin sons, Alex and Julian. On two occasions, Alex and his family were kept in a holding room upon arrival at Kennedy International Airport from London because his name apparently matched a name on the list.

Alex was born in 2000.

“They hauled us out of the line and into a holding room,” said Ms. Harris. “It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday night and they said, ‘We have to call Washington to have him cleared.’ And I’m like, ‘Just who do you suppose is available in Washington at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night?’ ”

It took more than two hours before Alex, a United States citizen like his parents and twin brother, was free to go. That was in late 2006. Six months later, the family arrived again from London, around 11 p.m.

Again, Alex was detained, his mother said, even though she carried his birth certificate and Social Security card.

Full article here

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