TSA keeps us safe from 7-year-old terrorist suspect

The Transportation Security Administration has done it again. Earlier this summer it prevented a dangerous sippy cup from being carried on board a plane in Washington. This week, it stopped a 7-year-old Florida boy from boarding his flight because he’s on the no-fly list. It was his third attempt to get on a plane.

Have a look at young Michael Martin of Coral Springs, Fla. Does this look like a terrorist?

“He thought he did something wrong,” the boy’s mother, Krista Martin, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

In fact, the TSA did something wrong. Very wrong.

The government requires that airlines exempt kids from the no-fly list when they ticket passengers. But an AirTran spokeswoman said the only way an airline can clear children is to see them first. That’s why Martin has been stopped again and again — the airline has to “see” him before it knows he’s not the terrorist Michael Martin.

Now, it doesn’t take a lot of common sense to know that this is nuts. We know that the no-fly list is bloated and inaccurate … but kids, for goodness sake! That should be a no-brainer.

The TSA has a new program called Traveler Redress Inquiry — or TRIP — that could help the Martins and any other kids who are unfortunate enough to be tagged as terrorists.

But I’ve been covering the TSA since its inception, and I’m not sure one program can solve this problem. It’s been tried before. The trouble isn’t with passengers interfacing with the government — it’s the no-fly list that’s in desperate need of a good editor.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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