The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Thursday morning from one of its own about some of the problems with airline "watch" lists.
Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy says he had a close encounter with the lists when trying to take the US Airways shuttle out of Washington to Boston.
The ticket agent wouldn't let him on the plane. His name was on the list in error. With help from an airport supervisor, Kennedy was able to fly home, but then the same thing happened coming back to Washington. Some phone calls straightened things out.
Kennedy says he had to enlist the help of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to get his name stricken from the list. The process took several weeks, in all.
And Kennedy asks what about the little guy?
The Department of Homeland Security tried to explain the incidents. A DHS spokesman said that on one flight Kennedy was misidentified as someone who needed extra screening when going through security, because he was mistakenly identified as someone on a watch list.
Another time, the spokesman says, Kennedy was tagged for extra screening under a security system that watches for such factors as a person buying a one-way ticket or paying with cash.
He says Kennedy was never on a "no-fly" list, which automatically keeps a person off a plane.
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