Jay Levitt September 7, 2007 2:31 PM

“Huh,” he says. “Why are you going to the White House, sir?”

“To see the president.”

“Huh. Why?”

“He asked me,” I say evenly.

Damn, what I wouldn’t give to be able to deliver a line like that.

bob September 7, 2007 2:31 PM

Plus I would bet that most clocks nowadays are digital and when broken will either display nothing (which seems like would be never right) or some mishmash of random digit segments that might be leet but arent numbers.

Andrew Sarchus September 7, 2007 3:06 PM

“Brian Higgins, the congressman who was to have been our host that evening, was so incensed about all this that he kicked up a row with all the right people and we never got bothered again. Until last month, that is. It was the official at passport control at Newark who started it.”

Aside from the stupidity of repeatedly wasting limited resources on a patently spent terrorist threat such as Adams, the paragraph quoted above speaks absolute volumes about the corrupt way in which the US terrorist screening effort is being conducted.

Gerry Adams is, albeit a venal little gobshite, no threat to the US and should not be on the watchlists; but his removal (or similar) from them should not merely because a piqued friend in the proverbial high place has made a few funny handshakes on his behalf.

Nostromo September 7, 2007 3:13 PM

It’s true that Adams has associated with IRA terrorists, but that has no bearing on airline safety. I think he’s a bad guy, but there is absolutely no chance he would suicide-bomb an airplane.
He values his own skin much too highly.

So don’t count this as a success for the no-fly list. It isn’t one.

Never Nobody September 7, 2007 3:33 PM

Adams is a very strange animal: an IRA ex-gunman who steered the Republican movement to a political settlement with the UK. We will have to wait until the history books are written to find out what Adams’ really has planned for Northern Ireland. Labelling Adams a ‘terrorist’ at this stage of his career is unhelpful and arguably unfair. I think Henry Kissinger should be detained by the TSA instead.

Stevo September 7, 2007 3:37 PM

Gerry Adams is now a politician. that seems as good a reason as any to give him a hard time. It should be the duty of every country to give the rulers of other contries a hard time at customs, just to share the pain.

to be fair though, Sinn Fein did warn the UK government against invading iraq, with a warning on the lines like “your troops were welcomed into belfast in 1969, look happened there”. Gerry Adams is less of a threat to the world than Tony Blair.

adm September 7, 2007 3:51 PM

Based on this supposed question, I think the problem is he wasn’t speaking to real FBI agents:

“Have you a schedule, sir?”

They must’ve been British intelligence posing as FBI. Afterwards, they asked him if he needed to take the lift to go to the loo.

Anonymous September 8, 2007 12:51 AM

>>A stopped clock is right twice a day. A slow (or fast) clock will usually be a lot worse than that.

It’s normal, even accepted, that clocks skew. You sir, are a nitpicker. It’s a saying.

Andre LePlume September 8, 2007 12:38 PM

Interesting that Gerry thinks treatment by US interrogators would be easier than what he faced with the British. That may be true at this stage of his “career”, but for someone thought to be an active Al Qaeda terrorist, I’d beg to differ.

Laurie D. T. Mann September 8, 2007 8:03 PM

Gerry Adams hasn’t been a real terrorist in a very long time; it’s nuts to have someone like him treated like one now. Even Georgie Boy thinks Gerry’s part of the peace process.

Remember when Ted Kennedy got pulled out of line for extra screening? I think that only happened about one.

Prohias September 8, 2007 10:58 PM

I got special treatement at Houston Intercontiental airport recently. Brown skinned I am, and I purchased an expensive one-way ticket at the last moment, with an otherwise illogical routing to rush back to see a dying loved one. Of course I was told it is random.

As much as I have read of the ridiculous inconveniences and the poor implementation of the screening program on this blog and others, it hit me hard since it happened in all its brain-dead glory at the saddest and most stressful time in my life. I am quite sure I am far from the exception – the harsh media and blog accounts we read about still call it a tumor when it has metastized.

PeaceAndTranquility September 9, 2007 4:12 PM

I have no sympathy for Mr. Adams. The guy really has connections to terrorists and terrorism.

If the other subjects of SSSS scrutiny were half as sketchy as Adams is, the screening system would have a far better reputation.

midk September 9, 2007 8:13 PM

Someone who shares my name is on the list used to screen passengers, so I’m normally unable to use self service check-in facilities. On my last trip to the US, I received the added bonus of the SSSS treatment.

Without commenting on the worth or otherwise of the screening system, there is a minor flaw in it’s implementation. The special screening is triggered by printing SSSS on your boarding pass. Bruce has previously written about the ease with which boarding passes can be manufactured. This isn’t a real problem when the boarding pass is used to reduce the volume of people who enter the ‘clean’ area of the airport. When the boarding pass is overloaded for ‘real’ security purposes, the weakness becomes a ‘real’ issue.

I think it unlikely that anyone linked to OBL will try to repeat the airplane missile method soon. If they did try, I’m sure they’d buy return tickets, print their own boarding passes and generally avoid most of the screening which causes widespread grief. They would probably board the plane more quickly than the innocent.

Porlock Junior September 10, 2007 3:26 AM

We seem to have a few of the insufficiently clued tonight. I mean, the posting was supposed to have tongue in cheek, no?

Much as I’m not fond of Adams, he sure has a fine one-up position vis-a-vis these punks. Even without the White House connection.

But that connection! Has nobody noticed? In any bureaucracy known to man, a guy turns up in the net claiming he’s headed for a little visit with El Supremo, and the agent sees that claim with scorn for the ridiculous lit, plus a little cold sweat — I mean, what if it were TRUE? Sane bureaucrat uses the modern convenience of the telephone, uses his organization’s high priority to get a quick answer from the White House, and Oops —

“You see, Your Lordship, how tight our security is and how diligent we are. My I raise my forehead from the floor now? Can we offer Your Exaltedness an escort to your next destination? It will take a few minutes for the limousine to arrive; may I offer you a blow job while you’re waiting?”

But in the transport security bureaucracy you are not afraid of anybody: not Justice, not Truth, not the Fucking President of the United Fucking States! What does this mean?

I suppose it means that Adams didn’t have a meeting with Dick Cheney.

csrster September 10, 2007 7:10 AM

This reminds me a little of an old friend of mine who was a student leftie and still gets stopped by immigration whenever he arrives in the US. He tends to have conversations like
“Who are you meeting in the US?”
“The Deputy Chief of NASA.”
…. not that it seems to cut much ice with US immigration.

allisnotwell September 10, 2007 1:06 PM

Middle Eastern guy wearing a turban and holding a clock that’s obviously wired to a red stick that has “Dynamite” written on the side: “I’m the Queen of England”.
TSA Guy: “Move along.”

White guy in a tux with no bags: “Here to see the President, he invited me.”

Rob Shein September 10, 2007 1:45 PM

My first humorous (and not really serious) thought was, “Hey! They finally got one, after all these years! Hm…come to think of it, did they send the guy a ticket just to get it on the news?” And then I read the part where Gerry Adams was actually invited by the President, and I think I’ll be cleaning iced tea off my monitor now, thank you.

George Fuller September 10, 2007 6:01 PM

Well, this is very fair and even handed of them!

I thought the no-fly list is only for the sort of terrorists the US didn’t like, not those like the Irish Republicans that you invite to dinner, give money to, and generally fete at every given opportunity.

-ac- September 11, 2007 1:21 PM

Alternate rendering: Every once in a while a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

Oh, and that trick to invite somebody so you can get them was totally Unwarranted. 😉

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