You Have to Meet Mikey to Believe This

Mikey Hicks, 8, is a lot like thousands of boys his age. For starters, he’s a Cub Scout. And probably like other boys, he’s a frequent traveler. Now, you want to meet Mikey? He rarely boards a plane without a hassle because he shares the name with a suspicious person.

The Transportation Security Administration is hard at work protecting flyers from terrorists by picking on a little kid. When Mikey was 2 years old, he was patted down at Newark Liberty International Airport.

He cried. Wouldn’t you?

It doesn’t get any easier for Mikey, who with his New Jersey family, took a vacation to the Bahamas last year. This year, Mikey was frisked on the way there, and then more aggressively on the way home.

His mother, Najalh Feanny Hicks recalled the incident with great clarity.

“Up your arms, down your arms, up your crotch -- someone is patting your 8-year-old down like he’s a criminal,” she said. “A terrorist can blow his underwear up and they don’t catch him. But my 8-year-old can’t walk through security without being frisked.”

Mikey is not on the federal government’s “no-fly” list but his name appears to be among the nearly 13,500 on the larger “selectee” list, which sets off a high level of security screening. The list is maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center, which includes the FBI, and is given to the TSA, which in turn sends the information to the airlines.

TSA says that “as a rule” there are no children on the no-fly or selectee lists.

Well, the rule stinks. So much so that over the past three years, 81,793 frustrated travelers have formally asked that their names be struck from the watch list. More than 25,000 cases are still pending.

Mikey’s case is one in thousands, but the humor or novelty has since worn thin.

His mother said, “I understand the need for security, but this is ridiculous. It’s quite clear that he is 8 years old, and while he may have terroristic tendencies at home, he doesn’t have those on a plane.”

Mikey takes it all in stride, asking, “Why do they think a kid is a terrorist?”

A third grader, Mikey was born a month before 9/11, which should prevent him from anyone thinking he is a terrorist.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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