TSA "Terrorist" Turns Out To Be A Homeward-Bound Marine
by ANN Senior Correspondent Kevin R.C. "Hognose" O'Brien
Security Administration bagged a terrorist in Los Angeles
International Airport Tuesday, or so they thought. Daniel Brown's
name came up on their no-fly watchlist, so they dragged him into
interrogation and grilled him, despite the protestations of Brown
and his fellow travelers, who swore they could vouch for him.
The others in Brown's party went on their Northwest Airlines
flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where they waited on a bus at the
airport. You see, the detained man was Staff Sergeant Daniel Brown,
USMC Reserve, and he was traveling with the other members of his
Marine Reserve Military Police unit, which was heading home to
Minnesota from eight months of combat in Iraq. The Marines were in
full uniform and all, including Brown, had travel orders and
military identification cards.
After attempts to stonewall under claims of "security," TSA
spokesmen finally admitted that Staff Sergeant Daniel Brown was
placed on the no-fly list, and ultimately detained, because they
had detected gunpowder on his footgear -- not on this flight, but
on a prior flight, which earned Brown a permanent place on the
TSA's mysterious terrorist lists.
The footgear that had been exposed to gunpowder? Brown's combat
boots, and the occasion of that flight was after his return from
his first combat tour in Iraq. Gee... a combat Marine in Al-Anbar
Province being exposed to gunpowder.
Exposure to gunpowder isn't something the TSA knows a lot about.
Hey, who are you gonna believe, this here watchlist or your lyin'
Ultimately, the TSA
screeners figured out that Brown really was a Marine, and no threat
to his fellow passengers, and let him board a later flight. When he
deplaned at MSP, his unit's bus was waiting -- his fellow Marines
Marine 1st Sgt. Drew Benson explained why. "We don't leave
anybody behind. We start together, and we finish together." All 26
Marines waited for Brown -- even though their families were waiting
for them at a scheduled welcome-home bash at Fort Snelling.
Brown's mother Terry was glad they did. "They all come back
together... no matter what it takes and I think that's very
important," she told WCCO-TV.
Frequent TSA critic Richard A. Altomare, Founder and Chairman of
the Coalition for Luggage Security -- and a former marine -- said,
"I'm proud that Sergeant Dan Brown's Marine unit refused to report
to their post until the 'man left behind' was permitted to get on a
passenger plane. This TSA's bloated bureaucracy with documented
insensitive treatment of countless Americans really rings home a
need to dismantle their growing airport agency before all American
freedoms are lost -- since now even the United States Marines can't
The TSA watch lists are shrouded in such secrecy that it's
impossible to tell if they have done any good. The TSA refuses to
say how people get on the list or even how many are on. On the
other hand, the absurdities of the list have been well
Senator Ted Kennedy, former child actor David Nelson, and other
celebrities have turned up on the list. (TSA explained to Sen.
Kennedy that there was a terrorist who once used "T. Kennedy" as an
alias. "T" is not one of the Senator's initials; his full name is
Edward Moore Kennedy).
Some of our own writers were placed on the list after we ran
several Aero-Views critical of TSA management.
In the last few weeks, a DHS official originally recruited by
TSA was in the news after being caught in a child sex sting; as Aero-News reported, before
joining TSA he took early retirement from Time magazine after a
porn scandal there.
Last month, a classified Government Accountability Office report
leaked to NBC News reportedly revealed that security testers were
able to bring bomb-making materials through TSA security at 21 of
21 airports tested.
But the TSA will not
strike its colors; it has not yet begun to fight. Boston TSA head
George Naccara told CSO Online, a magazine for security executives,
last month that the TSA needed to extend its unique approach to
security to other modes of transport: "subway stations, rail
terminals, cruise ship and ferry docks, even special events like
"TSA was never clearly given a mandate to focus only on
aviation," Naccara said. "I want to bring a sense of urgency to
other modes and explain to them what we do and how it can be
adapted to work in their environments."
Meanwhile, does the Marine of the hour have any words? Turns out
he does. "As somebody who has served 16 months over in Iraq
for the U.S. Marine Corps and come home and get hassled by TSA,
it's kind of a major disappointment," Daniel Brown told TV station
WCCO. "I've been fighting terrorism for the last 16 months in Iraq.
I don't think I should have to come home and deal with this."
Brown's father Carey echoed his son's sentiments. "For an
individual who spent two tours over in Iraq fighting for his
country, I think it's one of the biggest bogus things they could
ever come up with."
WIth luck, no one at TSA will take that as a challenge.