Sorry, we thought you were "Youssouf," not "Yusuf" Islam
First the Transportation Safety Administration, under the auspices of the Department of Fatherland Security, detained and then expelled Cat Stevens, who was bound for New York on a flight from London. Now they're claiming that it was an honest, administrative error -- a spelling mistake -- and that this isn't the first time they've done it. In other words the TSA is saying, we fucked up, and we've fucked up before. The implication is that they will likely fuck up again.
According to aviation sources with access to the list, there is no Yusuf Islam on the no-fly registry, though there is a "Youssouf Islam." The incorrect name was added to the register this summer, but because Islam's name is spelled "Yusuf" on his British passport, he was allowed to board a plane in London bound for the U.S. The Transportation Safety Administration alleges that Islam has links to terrorist groups, which he has denied; British foreign minister Jack Straw said the TSA action "should never have been taken."I don't buy it. Cat Stevens was allowed to enter the country earlier this year, but that was before he re-released a new version of "Peace Train," and became a more vocal critic of the American-Anglo invasion and occupation of Iraq. It doesn't take a genius to see the politics involved here. As is so often the case, this backfired on the Keystone Kops in the Bush administration. But their excuse is one for the ages, as it so neatly sums them up: incompetent fuck-ups who make lame excuses for their ineptitude.
The incident points up some of the real problems facing security personnel as they try to enforce the "no-fly" list. One issue is spelling; many foreign names have several different transliterations into English. And the sheer size of the list is daunting; thousands of names have been added in the last couple months, says one government official, bringing the total up to more than 19,000 names to look out for. That makes it difficult for airlines and government agencies to check all passengers. Within the past six months, several people on the no fly list have been mistakenly allowed to fly.
Still, the TSA is learning. It recently acknowledged that a Federal Air Marshall, unable to fly for weeks when his name was mistakenly put on the "no-fly" list, was in fact not a threat, and removed his name from the list.