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August 19, 2004
Ted Kennedy -- A Danger In The Air?

Drudge caught this Agence France-Presse report about Ted Kennedy making the high-risk list for the Transportation Security Agency, and he's not happy about it:

At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee (news - web sites) Thursday, the Massachusetts Democratic senator described having endured weeks of inconvenience after his name ended up on a watch list barring persons deemed to pose a threat to civil aviation or national security from air travel.

Kennedy said that on several occasions last March, he was nearly denied permission to board a US Airways shuttle from Washington to Boston because his name landed on a no-fly list in error. ...

But the misunderstanding persisted for weeks -- even after US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge personally intervened.

"It happened even after he called to apologize," Kennedy said at the hearing "because my name was on the list at the airports and with the airlines. He (Ridge) couldn't get my name off the list for a period of weeks."

TSA confirmed that two incidents occurred where Kennedy had been denied access to board flights, and that only the intervention of higher management had allowed him to travel as planned. TSA insists that the problem was a confusion between the Senator and a real watch-list suspect with a similar name. Kennedy used the experience to challenge DHS Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson and assert that homeland security policies make life too tough on the average citizen.

However, could it be that TSA had Kennedy on the list in part from Kennedy's actual track record of in-flight disturbances? In his book Sons Of Camelot: The Fate Of An American Dynasty, author Laurence Leamer relates this anecdote as an example of how the mainstream media gave a Boston politician a pass for strange and irrational behavior (page 121):

Ted could drink about as much as any man and still appear relatively sober. That was the most dangerous of gifts. But something was different now, and this trip brought him back to thoughts of death and dying. "They're going to shoot my ass off the way they shot Bobby's," he said as the reporters listened and took their private notes. Wanting only to pop a few more drinks, he did not eat at the airport in Fairbanks on the way home. He got on the plane and asked the flight attendant for a drink, and then another. He swaggered up and down the aisle, bouncing a pillow on the head of one of his aides, shouting for him to wake up, and then weaving along shouting, "Eskimo power! Eskimo power!" The journalists listened and noted Ted's sad state, but none of them wrote about it in their publications when they got home.

Chanting political slogans and assaulting passengers? Okay, it was 1972, but we pay TSA to stay vigilant against anyone with a history of unstable political activity, don't we?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 19, 2004 9:31 PM

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