Monday, June 6, 2011

Formal calls for probe into reporter's name on no-fly list


A House representative said Thursday she is requesting an investigation after learning a CNN reporter was put on the federal no-fly list shortly after his investigation of the Transportation Security Administration.
Michael Chertoff:  Has a stake in the TSA machines
Sheila Jackson Lee
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff about "a curious and interesting and troubling phenomenon" that CNN Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin was added to the list.

"My question is, why would Drew Griffin's name come on the watch list, post-his investigation of TSA?" Jackson Lee said.

"What is the basis of this sudden recognition that Drew Griffin is a terrorist? Are we targeting people because of their critique or criticism?"

In response, Chertoff said it was "not my understanding the reporter was put on," but that Griffin may share a name with someone put on the list.

"We do have circumstances where we have name mismatches," he said.
Griffin learned in May he was on the list, about two months after he reported on the federal air marshals program.

In a March story, Griffin reported that of the 28,000 commercial flights taking off in the United States every day, fewer than 1 percent have on-board, armed federal air marshals on board.
In response to Griffin's story, TSA said on its Web site that it would not disclose the number of air marshals flying on a daily basis so as not to "tip our hand to terrorists."

"The actual number of flights that air marshals cover is thousands per day," read a statement on the Web site.

Jackson Lee said she was using Griffin as an example. Committee members noted during the meeting that Congressman John Lewis, D-Georgia, is also on the no-fly list and has been trying for years to get removed.

"He's still having trouble," said committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, showing a letter from Lewis.

"And according to this letter, it's still not happening," Thompson said, "even to the point that the department gave him a letter attesting that he was John Lewis and he should be allowed to get on planes."

He asked Chertoff to "find out how many other John Lewises are out there, who are having difficulty explaining to the department who they are so they can get off this no-fly list. We see more and more of it happening and I know Sen. Kennedy had a problem with it, and for whatever reason it was worked out."

Chertoff said he would be "happy" to help Lewis in his efforts to get removed from the list.

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