Meet Mikey, 8: U.S. Has Him on Watch List

mscriv

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 14, 2008
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Dallas, Texas


The Transportation Security Administration, under scrutiny after last month’s bombing attempt, has on its Web site a “mythbuster” that tries to reassure the public.

Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy.

Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list.

“Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.”

Michael Winston Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled.

The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried.

After years of long delays and waits for supervisors at every airport ticket counter, this year’s vacation to the Bahamas badly shook up the family. Mikey was frisked on the way there, then more aggressively on the way home.

“Up your arms, down your arms, up your crotch — someone is patting your 8-year-old down like he’s a criminal,” Mrs. Hicks recounted. “A terrorist can blow his underwear up and they don’t catch him. But my 8-year-old can’t walk through security without being frisked.”

It is true that Mikey is not on the federal government’s “no-fly” list, which includes about 2,500 people, less than 10 percent of them from the United States. But his name appears to be among some 13,500 on the larger “selectee” list, which sets off a high level of security screening.

At some point, someone named Michael Hicks made the Department of Homeland Security suspicious, and little Mikey is still paying the price. (His father, also named Michael Hicks, was stopped for the first time on the Bahamas trip.)

Both lists are maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They are given to the Transportation Security Administration, which in turn sends them to the airlines.
Link to full article

Funny and sad at the same time. I so wish that people in this industry would just think about what they are doing before they put some crazy policy into place.
 

Huge facepalm. If we lose our civil rights like this, the terrorists are winning. Is there any common sense here?? This innocent little kid is obviously not a terrorist. And their reasoning is more than ridiculous. He has a similar name to a known terrorist. Wow. So what??????!!?!?! :mad: That makes him a threat now??! really? are people that stupid!! I swear, America is getting worse by the day. And and even worse, the actual terrorists are reading this and are laughing. Instead of trying to solve the real problem, we just turn on ourselves.

I am disgusted.
 

JNB

macrumors 604
Exactly. And unless/until methods that may actually work are allowed to pass muster by those more concerned with, well, things other than actual security, this is all the TSA will be allowed to do: match names on a list, no matter the degree of absurdity.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
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Huge facepalm. If we lose our civil rights like this, the terrorists are winning. Is there any common sense here?? This innocent little kid is obviously not a terrorist. And their reasoning is more than ridiculous. He has a similar name to a known terrorist. Wow. So what??????!!?!?! :mad: That makes him a threat now??! really? are people that stupid!! I swear, America is getting worse by the day. And and even worse, the actual terrorists are reading this and are laughing. Instead of trying to solve the real problem, we just turn on ourselves.

I am disgusted.

It's the fault of the Department of Homeland Security, and the TSA, for forgetting to include Step #2 in their protocol when handling these situations. I think the new protocol should be:


1. If the name matches one of those on our database, then prevent them from flying and contact the Department of Homeland Security.

2. Use common sense.



I can't say the same for the little boy's father though, who shares the same name. I couldn't blame the authorities for frisking him.
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
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An Island in the Salish Sea
Just playing devil's advocate here.

The problem with "Common Sense" is that it is not very common. Many, if not most, security breaches are caused by someone who exercised some discretion. In 99% of the times some guard or agent uses common sense to make someone's life easier, they are fine. However, every once in a while it leads to a security breach that may or may not lead to a catastrophe. At that point a directive will be issued that will close that area of discretion. Plus, anyone on the front lines will become more aware that their act of kindness could in fact be the chink in the armour that is being exploited.

I don't envy the job of the security screeners. Most humans are socialized to be helpful, and here you have a job where an act of kindness on your behalf could lead to the deaths of hundreds.

With all of the above said.... I think the terrorists are winning because of the huge infringement of what used to be normal civil protections. I think some governments have taken this opportunity to enhance their control of their populations in the interests of security.

And as for poor Mickey.... remember that in Iraq and Afghanistan some of the militants are using children to carry bomb making material, and sometimes bombs. That people with mental handicaps have been roped into being suicide bombers. Why do you think just appearing to be 8 years old makes someone automatically "safe"?

And finally.... where common sense would have actually been useful. Surely they have an estimated age for the suspicious person on the watch list. Comparing Mickey's apparent age to the age on the watch list would clear poor Mickey.

I also thought they had a system to get letters to mis-matched people to show the screeners?
 

Eraserhead

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Nov 3, 2005
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And finally.... where common sense would have actually been useful. Surely they have an estimated age for the suspicious person on the watch list. Comparing Mickey's apparent age to the age on the watch list would clear poor Mickey.
The problem is that adults are fairly difficult to age correctly, especially if they have botox etc.
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
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An Island in the Salish Sea
The problem is that adults are fairly difficult to age correctly, especially if they have botox etc.
Fair enough ... and I wouldn't want any discretion left to an agent to decide between 28 and 38. But surely the difference between 8 and 28 would be pretty clear.

The problem, I suppose, is if the suspicious name is 18, and if Mickey is bigger than average or looks older. At what point do you take the discretion away? (Rhetorical question). As I said earlier, I don't envy the security screeners jobs.
 

zap2

macrumors 604
Mar 8, 2005
7,242
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Washington D.C
My father had this same thing happen....a man by his name broke some law a while back and now he has issues when applying for things sometimes. Also when I was younger the police came to my house and tried to arrest him(they ended up not)(this was a while ago, before 9/11)

So while I see its a hassle, its not anything really new. The 8 year old part is sad, but in 10 years, he'll be 18, and how should people be able to make the difference?
 

Lyle

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2003
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Madison, Alabama
Don't worry, little Mikey. Someday soon Bush and Cheney will be out of office and we'll get a new Democratic administration that will abolish these police state tactics. Just hang in there!
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
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Don't worry, little Mikey. Someday soon Bush and Cheney will be out of office and we'll get a new Democratic administration that will abolish these police state tactics. Just hang in there!
I dont expect this one to change. I think it is catch 22. Let the agents use common sense and then things slip threw but in this case there is no question that the kid is not who who is on the enhance security list. Big time at 2 years old. Now by the time he gets is DL that is another story.

I would say it would suck if my name raise red flags because of some dumb ass but that is the way it is right now and will be for our life time. A few selfish people ruined it for all of us.
Now that list should include some basic description of the person in question like skin color and race. Those are both very valid descriptions of some one and would really reduce things like this.

It kind of like pick your poison. Either allow race to be used in descriptions because it is a valid one. Or you get lots of stupid incidents like this.
Either way even I think that common since tells you that the kid should be let threw. The dad on the other hand would have his name subject to the more enhanced screening.
 

Eraserhead

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Nov 3, 2005
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Fair enough ... and I wouldn't want any discretion left to an agent to decide between 28 and 38. But surely the difference between 8 and 28 would be pretty clear.

The problem, I suppose, is if the suspicious name is 18, and if Mickey is bigger than average or looks older. At what point do you take the discretion away? (Rhetorical question). As I said earlier, I don't envy the security screeners jobs.
Agreed.

Now that list should include some basic description of the person in question like skin color and race. Those are both very valid descriptions of some one and would really reduce things like this.
You would expect those to be used. Of course they can be masked, but you can also travel under a false name.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
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You would expect those to be used. Of course they can be masked, but you can also travel under a false name.
I want to say that part of the reason Race is not put on there is well they are scared of a PR night mare when all of a sudden the media screams race discrimination.

I seen people get up in arms when on the news they release a report like
A 175-200lb African American. Male. It stupid. Race is a valid description because it reduces a group of possiblities by the largest amount. Mix that with the next easy thing (sex) and you got a very quick way to reduce things. After that it requires much more finer details to describe the some one.
 

Eraserhead

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Nov 3, 2005
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Race is a valid description because it reduces a group of possiblities by the largest amount.
To play devils advocate but race can be tricky if it isn't done right.

Someone described as Arabian travelling on an Iranian passport might be flagged if the guy didn't know the culture, but they might be missed by someone who did. Ditto if they were described as Chinese but they actually looked Thai or Japanese (or maybe even Central Asian) as they look slightly different for the same reasons.
 

anjinha

macrumors 604
Oct 21, 2006
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Fair enough ... and I wouldn't want any discretion left to an agent to decide between 28 and 38. But surely the difference between 8 and 28 would be pretty clear.

The problem, I suppose, is if the suspicious name is 18, and if Mickey is bigger than average or looks older. At what point do you take the discretion away? (Rhetorical question). As I said earlier, I don't envy the security screeners jobs.
The article says the first time Mikey was patted down was when he was 2. THAT's ridiculous.
 

benlee

macrumors 65816
Mar 4, 2007
1,236
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Its the parent's fault. They should have given their child a more original name. I'd suggest something like Forklift Pineapple Hicks.

Also, my guess is the government already has time travel technology. On a routine mission to the future, an agent discovered that a man named Mikey Hicks was going to cause some serious destruction. Apparently he was angry because of all the strange men and women that groped him throughout his life-starting at the age of two.
 

BoyBach

macrumors 68040
Feb 24, 2006
3,030
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UK
I read an article recently that claimed that the watch list database contains something like half a million names. If that's correct (and after reading about little Mikey above, I've no doubt that the writer wasn't too far from the truth), surely it's too broad to be of any practical use?