Why Is "Walter Murphy" on the No-Fly List?:
Over at Balkinization, Mark Graber posts a story from Walter Murphy, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Princeton (and the author of one of my favorite books, Wiretapping on Trial), about having his name appear on the No-Fly List. As I understand it, being put on the list doesn't mean that you can't fly; rather, it means that you have to speak to a supervisor and get individual clearance before getting a boarding pass. Professor Murphy writes that he discovered he was on the list when flying to Princeton for a conference last month about his new book.

  Professor Murphy believes that he has been singled out because he gave a speech at Princeton last year criticizing the Bush Administration. He concludes that he is being harassed, and he wants this episode to be publicized to draw attention to the Administration's conduct:
That harassment is, in and of itself, a flagrant violation not only of the First Amendment but also of our entire scheme of constitutional government. This effort to punish a critic states my lecture's argument far more eloquently and forcefully than I ever could. Further, that an administration headed by two men who had "had other priorities" than to risk their own lives when their turn to fight for their country came up, should brand as a threat to the United States a person who did not run away but stood up and fought for his country and was wounded in battle [Ed: Professor Murphy served in the Marines in the Korean War], goes beyond the outrageous. . . . . Thus I hope you and your colleagues will take some positive action to bring the Administration's conduct to the attention of a far larger, and more influential, audience than I could hope to reach.
  The post is certainly bringing the story to a larger audience; just a few hours after the story was posted, it has already drawn links from Atrios and Crooks and Liars.

  The question is, why was the name "Walter Murphy" on the list? The Bush Administration has a lot of harsh critics; if being a harsh critic were enough to end up on the No-Fly list, wouldn't we have heard about it sooner? Professor Murphy's primary evidence that he was singled out for his speech is that when he mentioned it as a possible reason to an American Airlines clerk, the clerk responded "that'll do it." I wonder, though, would the airline clerk know? Perhaps, as the clerk apparently professed a lot of knowledge as to who gets on the No-Fly list. On the other hand, how much do you trust an airline clerk about something like this?

  I'm also reminded of when Senator Kennedy's name ended up on the No-Fly list back in 2004. Based on news reports at the time, Kennedy's name wasn't on the list to harass Senator Kennedy. Rather, a suspected terrorist had at one point used an alias of "T. Kennedy," and the name was then entered into the database. I wonder, did something like that happen here?