May 7th, 2009
05:25 PM ET

Me? A Terrorist?

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear Drew Griffin's full report tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Passengers wait in line for their names to be checked against terror watch lists.

Passengers wait in line for their names to be checked against terror watch lists.

Drew Griffin | BIO
CNN Investigative Correspondent

And I thought it was just me.

It was shortly after we did some pretty scathing reporting on the Federal Air Marshalls service that I found myself labeled a potential terrorist at airports. I never could connect the dots to say there was some sort of retribution, but the hassle of being stopped every time I flew (which is a lot) and asked to provide identification, even my mother’s maiden name, before being allowed to print a ticket, slowed me down and created quite an issue when I was running late.

Instead of suffering alone, I decided to bring you all along for the ride, exposing what I thought was a complete blundering of the terror watch list. My first report focusing on how I found myself on the terror list erupted into a flood of calls from people just like me. All walks of life, even a commercial airline pilot, we were all on that list. And every time I filed a report I got the same retort from the Department of Homeland Security: “Mr. Griffin, you are not on the list.”

Well guess what? Thousands of us are really on that list, and yes, thousands of us are on it by mistake. A just released Inspector general’s report lays it all out. And the report also reveals who’s not on it. I’ll share that with you tonight

Filed under: 360° Radar • Airline Safety • Drew Griffin • Terrorism
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Jay

    Xcellent example of the patriot act effects and our constitutional rights walking the plank.

    May 8, 2009 at 1:56 am |
  2. Lisa Catizone Heslop

    Fair? Yes and no. How else do we protect ourselves? To make a finer point on an individual takes a lot of money. Money we don't have. It will ultimately take away a lot of privacy. Personally, I'm willing to accept it – but then again, I don't travel frequently for a living. It's a slippery slope at best

    My question is: How are countries who don't utilize the lengthy processes we do, get along so well? What are they doing that we're not? Or visa versa.

    May 8, 2009 at 1:46 am |
  3. Christopher in Puerto Rico

    I can't even imagine! This would be insane for me. First off, I fly only every couple of months, but I usually arrive under that 2 hour suggested pre-boarding window. If I'm smart, I check in for my flight online, if I'm not I go into the frequent flyer line (aka Gold line, business boarding, etc). I usually pick my own seats and everything beforehand so all I need is my boarding pass and maybe to check luggage, which I still try to avoid. Having to go farther than this would totally get me kicked out the airport, mostly because I hate bas customer service, and what happens to Drew and so many others, is the epitome of bad customer service.

    May 7, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  4. Paul

    Concerning the Chicago crimes, notice how they took the opportunity to demonize the AK47. I bet the individual who used it was a thug who would not legally qualify to own a gun in the first place. Want to reduce crime? Put more guns in the hands of LAW ABIDING CITIZENS. That's right, you heard me...more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens so they can protect themselves like that man just yesterday from College Park, Atlanta. If he did not have a gun, more than ten people would be dead. If you have not heard the story:

    House party, two masked gunmen stormed in, separated the men from women, asked for their wallets and cell phones, perp ask another if the had enough bullets, perp commenced to begin raping the women, victim with gun took out the perp holding the men, then kicked the door in and saved the women. The hero neutralize two of the perps, the third got away but cops are confident they will find him.

    So...two bad guys dead in the act of commiting a violent crime or would you prefer 10+ good people minding their own business?

    May 7, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  5. Fred

    I saw that report on CNN when you first aired it. It was amazing that you couldn't resolve it quickly, given your profile with the network as an investigative reporter so open to the public gaze...goes to show that city hall is city hall at any level!

    May 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Looking forward to the report – I had hoped by now your name would have been removed. I had to think whose name isn't on the list that probably should be.

    May 7, 2009 at 7:55 pm |
  7. Isabel

    I loved the article! And I look forward more info, tonight.

    When a friend asked me if I had no fear of the swine flu because I'm travelling for the second most affected country, I said that I'm afraid of immigration sector.

    I agree that terrorism is a serious matter of national security, but often the citizen (of the well) is dealt unduly

    May 7, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  8. Jim

    Those that expose wrong doing get the shaft.

    May 7, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  9. jane MI

    Mr Griffin,

    We sympathize with you when being on the *list* !!!

    My husband was told he's on the*list*, and had to provide much detail as you, even as to what states he has lived,addresses,etc. to prove that it was not actually him on that watchlist...each time told it is not him but a person with his same first + last name is on it...What helped
    was to book flts including his middle name to distinguish a bit of a difference from the other...It's taken yrs to take care of this *mistake*

    Sure hope there will be a more efficient way to correct those mistakes! We look forward for the full report

    May 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm |
  10. Mary

    Maybe there is another Drew Griffin who is on the watch list!

    May 7, 2009 at 7:07 pm |
  11. Michelle Johnson, Lomita, CA

    This sounds like a fascinating story; I look forward to hearing more tonight. A worldwide paranoia seems to be escalating in all fields, even at the highest levels. Hope that aspect is discussed tonight.

    May 7, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  12. Heather

    I'm curious how TSA making us remove our shoes to place in those trays to be scanned makes us 'safe', when on the bottom of every shoe is dirt & germs & animal excrement – which gets touched by jackets & purses & laptops going into those same trays. All this passes along germs and potentially facilitates the spreading of things like the H1N1.

    If you have time to investigate this, I'd like to hear what you come back with.

    May 7, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  13. natalie w.-cleveland,OH

    how have i never thought of this happening? i'll definitely tune it to check it out!

    May 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  14. Will Dudley

    Personally, I'm proud of you. You probably raised the ire of a mid level bureaucrat somewhere who wielded his paltry powers, pointing them impotently toward you, the evil investigative journalist. hahahahahaha

    May 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  15. Erik

    Okay thats a very big line ...I guess they never heard of express lanes? Honestly , make sure before going to the airport to bring a big book with the title saying " WHY ME?"....

    May 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  16. Tim Gibson

    Say it ain't so, say it ain't so. A mistake, however could that have happened?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm |