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Criticize Bush? It’s “No Fly” for you, buddy!

Next weekend I fly non-stop from Portland to Washington DC for the debut show.  At least, I think I’ll get to fly.  Who knows, I could be on the “No Fly” terrorist watchlist maintained by the TSA.

How could that be?  I’m an American citizen.  I have no felony record (a couple of disturbing the peace misdemeanors, though; I threw a pretty rowdy party or two back in the day).  I am as statistically average white male as you can get.  I have no ties to al Qaeda, al Zawahiri, or even Al Sharpton (kidding!  love ya, Al… please don’t make me apologize!).  I’ve never even been outside of the United States, except for a teenage trip to Tijuana.  Why in the world would I be on the terrorist  “No Fly” watchlist?

Because I’m not too fond of Mr.* George W. Bush and I ain’t afraid to say it out loud.  Turns out that can get you canned from flying in America.  You could be restricted from flying and subject to intrusive search and seizure for merely criticizing the Chief Executive of the United States — just like Professor Walter F. Murphy, emeritus of Princeton University.  Read on…

“When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years.”

“I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: “Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.” I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. “That’ll do it,” the man said. “

“After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: “I must warn you, they’re going to ransack your luggage.” On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was “lost.” Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this “loss” could have been a mere coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I’m a tad skeptical.”

This isn’t the first time someone’s landed on the list for their anti-Bush views.  Talk show host Randi Rhodes frequently  tells of her encounters with the TSA.

* Mr. Bush always, “President” Bush never.  Presidents must be democratically elected in fair and transparent elections.  They should also be the one who gets the most votes.  And re-election doesn’t count if you get to campaign on the incumbency you never earned.

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