Great Moments in Counterterrorism

By now, you have all heard of the problems with the terrorist watch list. Bet you never thought of this:

A Quebec businessman whose name is one of the many that have erroneously landed on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s flight passenger watch list has decided to change his name to avoid lengthy security hassles at the airport.

Mario Labbé, an executive with a Montreal-based record company, says his Canadian passport triggers a red alert on the computers of U.S. customs agents every time he tries to board a flight to the U.S. — which is about once a month for the past seven years.

“I was pulled aside in a room … and you have to wait your turn to finally be released,” Labbé said. “An hour, an hour and a half, two hours, whatever it is after. Once I was caught in Miami like that for six hours.

“It’s always the same questions, about if I’ve lost my passport, if I’ve been to Japan — I don’t know why Japan, but in their file it was something to do with Japan.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote a letter to Labbé in 2004, saying he had been placed on their watch list after falling victim to identity theft. At the time, the department said there was no way for his name to be removed.

Although Labbé wrote letters to the U.S. department, his efforts were in vain, prompting him to legally change his name.

“So now, my official name is François Mario Labbé,” he said.

“Then you have to change everything: driver’s license, social insurance, medicare, credit card — everything.”

Although it’s not a big change from Mario Labbé, he said it’s been enough to foil the U.S. customs computers.

Win. (via NeedleNose)

38 replies
  1. 1
    PeterJ says:

    “So now, my official name is François Mario Labbé,” he said.

    “Then you have to change everything: driver’s license, social insurance, medicare, credit card — everything.”

    Although it’s not a big change from Mario Labbé, he said it’s been enough to foil the U.S. customs computers.

    And on Monday the name François Mario Labbé will have been added to the watch list. It’s a known alias of a terrorist already on the watch list.

  2. 2
    Bob UK says:

    So normal joe Mario cant get off the watch list without changing every other buggery thing, but a terrorist can, by adding a first name,

    No sir I am Bob-Obama Bin Laden. Nothing like the other guy. You like my beard. Why thank you Mr Customs Officer.
    Have an explosive day :)

  3. 3
    cyntax says:

    Nothing like building a bureaucracy around security. Not that everything the Israelis do security-wise is the bestest ever, but it is interesting seeing the contrast between how they do airport security and how we do it. Over there, no shoe scanning, no liquids inspection; instead their people actually engage you in conversations about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and what you’ve been doing. Their people spend their time with you looking for things that don’t add up and actually applying some brain power.

    Not that said application of such has ever been a hallmark of this admin…

  4. 4
    Snowwy says:

    Security theater- the greatest show on Earth.

  5. 5
    AkaDad says:

    Do you realize that by posting that, you just emboldened the terrorists?

  6. 6
    JL says:

    Well I feel safer because the Islamist extremists who want to kill us, yadda, yadda, yadda, would never figure that out.

  7. 7
    Eric says:

    Hilarious. The Keystone Cops would do a better job of protecting us than our own goverment.

    But hey, did a heckuva job spying on and arresting those protesters in St Paul, right? Whoo-hoo! USA! USA!

  8. 8
    anon says:

    While we’re talking about every buggery thing, did Hugo Chavez really tell “yankees’ to go ahead and “squeal.” Query for Spanish speakers only please.

  9. 9

    Win.

    Word.

    P.S. You need a new file tag: Shit You Can’t Make Up.

  10. 10
    PeterJ says:

    Do you realize that by posting that, you just emboldened the terrorists?

    And by letting the terrorists know how to circumvent the watch list, François Mario Labbé has retroactively justified that Homeland Security put his name on the list.

    It’s like when innocent people get picked up in Afghanistan and sent to Gitmo. While they might not have harbored any ill will against the US before being sent to there, being falsely imprisoned for five years probably changes that. So they should stay in Gitmo, even if they once were innocent.

  11. 11
    gbear says:

    No sir I am Bob-Obama Bin Laden.

    Hey Bob-UK, Was that Osama Obama a bug or a feature?

    Guess what! Sarah Palin told a lie!

    Aides to Gov. Sarah Palin are scrambling to explain details of her only trip outside North America — which, according to a new report, did not include Iraq, as the McCain-Palin campaign had initially claimed.

    Palin made an official visit to see Alaskan troops in Kuwait in July of 2007. There, she made a stop at a border crossing with Iraq, but did not actually visit the country, according to a new report in the Boston Globe.

    Earlier, McCain aides had said that Palin visited Iraq, and expressed indignation at questions about her slim foreign travel.

    The campaign also said she had been to Ireland; that turned out to have been a refueling stop.

  12. 12
    r€nato says:

    He’s French and he works in the entertainment industry.

    Sounds to me like he definitely belongs on the terrorist watch list.

  13. 13
    John Cole says:

    P.S. You need a new file tag: Shit You Can’t Make Up.

    I just added “Clown Shoes.”

  14. 14
    Marshall says:

    Not that everything the Israelis do security-wise is the bestest ever, but it is interesting seeing the contrast between how they do airport security and how we do it. Over there, no shoe scanning, no liquids inspection; instead their people actually engage you in conversations about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and what you’ve been doing.

    Or maybe make you dance.

    (By the way I had an interesting error here – if the URL ends in a number, it doesn’t preview properly. I added a “?” to fix that.)

  15. 15
    D. Mason says:

    Do you realize that by posting that, you just emboldened the terrorists?

    He’s just flexing his librul muscle.

  16. 16
    Marshall says:

    I just added “Clown Shoes.”

    You mean, like this ?

  17. 17
    Punchy says:

    “So now, my official name is François Mario Labbé,”

    DUMBASS! Now he’s got to change it again.

    To echo PeterJ…if this isn’t added to the list as an “alias”….then….WTF? Why he on dis list at all?

  18. 18
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Bin Laden is running a liquor store here in Southern California. I defy the Bush administration to prove otherwise.

  19. 19
    Bostondreams says:

    Off topic, but looks as though that evil media is at it again, claiming that Our Sarah isn’t all she says she is!

    In Office, Palin Hired Friends and Hit Critics

  20. 20
    demkat620 says:

    Guess what! Sarah Palin told a lie!

    Can’t have. Maverick’s don’t lie.

    Seriously, though, if this was a sane country, the GOP would lose 40 houses seats, 10 senate seats and the WH.

    But its not so, NA. GA. HA. PEN.

  21. 21
    Bostondreams says:

    Oh, and has anyone seen today’s ‘Get Fuzzy’?

    ‘IIIIIII’MMMM Republican and I’m OK! I work all night and I sleep all day!

    ‘NO-BODY expects the Alaskan politician!’

    Damn, I love that comic…

  22. 22
    Zifnab25 says:

    Bin Laden is running a liquor store here in Southern California. I defy the Bush administration to prove otherwise.

    Oh, that’s really nice of you. Now every bar tender in Nevada just got added to the list, just to show you how competent the Bush Administration really is.

  23. 23
    trifecta says:

    Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: “Who?” Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people.

    “I called him and asked, ‘Do you know how to supervise people?’ ” said a family friend, Kathy Wells. “He said, ‘No, but I think I’ll get some help.’ “

  24. 24
    Martin says:

    Actually, if you are obviously not muslim-looking, renaming yourself to Osama Bin Laden would probably be pretty wise. Sure, you’d get pulled out every time you flew, but I think even the monkeys could figure out on immediate inspection that you weren’t the OBL, and let you go. But Joe Smith, Potential Terrorist™ is much more likely to have to open his sphincter for the probing index finger of the law than Doogie Howser renamed as Osama Bin Laden.

  25. 25
    Shey says:

    Get Fuzzy is hilarious today.

  26. 26
    JL says:

    Bostondreams, Your link doesn’t count because it was to the NYTimes and not the Weekly Liar or Drudge. Sorry!

  27. 27
    MMM says:

    My name is on the list – it may or may not be me they are looking for….

    However, baggage checking agent told me to use my middle name instead of my first name when making reservations and I would have fewer problems in the future.

  28. 28

    […] 13, 2008 So I’m Checking Out My Usual Bloggers… Posted by John O under Political | Tags: Balloon Juice, John Cole |   …and I say tomyself, “Self? That John Cole guy sure does some funny stuff,” and then I realize he’s not on my blogroll! […]

  29. 29

    Yesterdays Get Fuzzy was wonderful. Bucky “We got Palin! Yeah, not even Cleese, not even Gervais can beat that” Rob “Not Michael Palin, Sarah Palin the Governor of Alaska” Bucky “who?” (paraphrasing)

  30. 30
    w vincentz says:

    Some governor also appointed a Sec. of Agriculture because he “liked cows”. Guess who?
    No, I’m not making this up.
    Now I have to change my fuckin’ cow’s name from Missy Moo to Moo Missy Moo.
    Cat, you’re next! Gettoffa My Couch.

  31. 31
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    In all seriousness, would someone explain the terrorist watch list to me? If security officials come across a known terrorist shouldn’t they. . . arrest him? And if someone isn’t a terrorist, what is the point of “watching” for them?

  32. 32
    Tara the antisocial social worker says:

    I actually know a guy named Jose Padilla. No, not THE Jose Padilla; this guy’s a couple decades older and has a son in the military. You can guess what happens every time he flies. Jose’s wife got exasperated and asked what they could do to get his name removed from the list. Next time they flew, he was still on the watch list – and now, suddenly, so was she.

  33. 33
    w vincentz says:

    @ notorious,
    I looked it up. Seems that a “terrorist watch” has something to do with “evil time pieces”. Some even wear them on their wrists.

  34. 34
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    Some governor also appointed a Sec. of Agriculture because he “liked cows”. Guess who?
    No, I’m not making this up.

    You bastard, apologize for calling Sarah Palin a “cow”.

    Seems that a “terrorist watch” has something to do with “evil time pieces”. Some even wear them on their wrists.

    And when you press a button it shoots a deathray! And it holds 5 lbs of anthrax!

  35. 35
    28 Percent says:

    It is wrong of the MSM to report that the US anti-terrorist watch list that keeps us safe can be beat like this. You will say that if this guy knows that he can just change his name to get off the list then the terrorists know that they can change theyre names from Mohommed Bin Mohammed and that is true but sometimes they forget and slip up. This will remind them to be careful, and if they do not make rooke mistakes how will we catch them this is not good at all.

  36. 36
    OhNoNotAgain says:

    So the database lookups for the terrorist watch list are the equivalent of an MS-DOS dBase application from 1988 (Now with case-insensitive searches !) where you have to make sure to match the entire name letter for letter ?

    This is what you get when you hire companies to do government work because your brother is on their board of directors. Republican governance in action, folks !!

    BTW, 28 Percent, good stuff. :-) You sound just like Sarah Palin, right down to the jumbled sentences that require 3rd and 4th re-reads to understand.

  37. 37
    Faux News says:

    Their people spend their time with you looking for things that don’t add up and actually applying some brain power.

    If anyone has ever used BWI (Baltimore Washington)airport then they would realize why we could never use brain power like the Israelis. The security folks there can barely string a sentence together let alone engage in some sort of intelligent conversation. Besides they are WAY to busy talking on their cell phones or playing with their blackberries or i-phones.

  38. 38
    Birdzilla says:

    Just a attempt to try and save his face

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  1. […] 13, 2008 So I’m Checking Out My Usual Bloggers… Posted by John O under Political | Tags: Balloon Juice, John Cole |   …and I say tomyself, “Self? That John Cole guy sure does some funny stuff,” and then I realize he’s not on my blogroll! […]

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