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Monday, June 1, 2009

Why is John Lewis on the 'no-fly' list?

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Rep. Bennie Thompson (Mississippi) was next to me on my flight from National to New Orleans last night. Heard him say that John Lewis stopped him at National last night and said hes still on some TSA no-fly lists due to his arrest a few weeks ago so Thompson wants to file a bill to remove him from all the lists. Seemed like a nice guy though, and spent most of his time reading a huge stack of newspapers.

A Lewis spokeswoman tells CL that Lewis' appearance on the list isn't because of his recent arrest at the Sudanese embassy. The frustrating security snafu dates back years to when the controversial — some say ineffective — method of screening passengers was beefed up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Google "John Lewis no-fly list" and you'll see what we mean.)

Jones says Lewis has pursued the issue with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. She says Lewis, who flies at least twice a week, for years has been forced to go through extra screening methods and has had attention drawn to him on flights. (i.e. "Mr. John Lewis, please press the 'call' button located above your seat.") Related committees have discussed the issue for years, she says.

In all likelihood, the congressman and Civil Rights icon popped up on the list because there's some ne'er-do-well who shares his name. Lots of people, ranging from a star of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to the wife of benevolent futurist U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Tubes, have reportedly run into the same problem.

If Thompson can follow through with what Wonkette's tipster claims, the long-serving lawmaker from Georgia just might be able to finally pass through security like us common folk. You wonder, however, if Congressman Jihad bin Laden, I-Lodi, will ever get his situation straightened out.

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