Michael Winston Hicks of Clifton, N.J., may well pose a threat, but it’s mainly to unsecured ice cream and clean floors.
That’s because Michael is an 8-year-old boy — a fact that has done nothing to dissuade airport security from giving him a hard time whenever he travels. As such, one can only hope he also poses a threat to the transportation security system as we know it.
Michael is known as “Mikey” to his loved ones, as well as many strangers as of a couple weeks ago. That was when his mother told the New York Times that his comings and goings have attracted special scrutiny for years. Mikey’s image has since appeared far and wide, often looking distinctly unthreatening in eyeglasses and a bike helmet or Cub Scout uniform.
Najlah Hicks went public after her son endured two thorough friskings during a family trip to the Bahamas. But the tyke’s first pat-down was way back when he was 2 (which, everyone knows, is when the trouble usually starts). And Mikey’s family first learned he was “on the list” when he was a baby.
The upshot is that our security system, which let slip the underwear bomber, has been hassling passengers who aren’t old enough to wear underwear.
Mikey is the flip side of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s flaming Fruit of the Looms. He’s an example of the mindless security theater the government has been wasting time on, rather than flagging the likes of a radical who was reported by his own father, paid cash for a one-way ticket, and saw no need for luggage.
And Mikey is only one example. His story prompted many more to write the Times with tales of absurd security targets — other children, flight attendants, military men with top-secret clearance.
A lot of them seemed to have the same problem as Mikey, whose name likely resembles that of someone on a government “selectee” list — a step down from the “no-fly” list — which triggers extraordinary security measures.
That Michael Hicks is a fairly common name won’t escape the notice of anyone who doesn’t work for the Transportation Security Administration. Not to worry: The agency says it’s working on a new watch list with more data, including date of birth. This handy information would presumably indicate whether a person of interest is old enough to ride roller coasters.
So, eight years after 9/11, federal officials are developing an identification system that would be about half as meticulous as the DMV’s. Mikey himself summed it up nicely for a local paper: “I think whoever runs this is pretty weird.”