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Professor Murphy On Why He Thinks He Was Targeted:
The Daily Princetonian has an interesting story on Walter Murphy and the No-Fly list that sheds more light on why Professor Murphy thinks he was intentionally targeted for his speech:
  Murphy added that it could be a coincidence — "if you believe in the Easter bunny, yeah" — but said he doesn't think that it is.
  "The coincidences are multiplying," he said. He cited the "outing" of CIA agent Valerie Plame immediately after her husband's public questioning of the rationale behind the war in Iraq and two of his personal acquaintances, who are critics of the Bush administration and are also on the no-fly list.
  "It begins to strain credulity," he said.
The story continues:
  Murphy doesn't think that his name — which, he points out, is half-German, half-Irish — is common enough to suggest a case of mistaken identity.
  "I've only known of one other Walter Murphy, and that was a rock guy back in the '70s," he said.
  Ultimately, Murphy said, there's little doubt in his mind that the airline ban is an annoyance deliberately devised for him by the government, albeit one that he has found amusing. "I was always sorry I didn't make Nixon's hit-list, but making Bush's hit-list is almost as good," he joked.
  Assuming Professor Murphy's views are being represented here accurately, these explanations don't exactly inspire confidence that Professor Murphy's beliefs are justified. First, I can't see any connection between this and the outing of Valerie Plame. Second, a quick check with Peoplefinder found 380 people with the name "Walter Murphy." The fact that Professor Murphy has "only known of one other" seems a bit myopic. And finally, even though it's a joke, the comment about regretting not having been on Nixon's enemies list suggests that Professor Murphy may be a bit too inclined to interpret events as having targeted him in particular.

  Of course, none of this directly answers whether Professor Murphy was targeted. But I think it does add reason to think (in light of the sparse facts we know) that Professor Murphy may be reading a bit more into things than is warranted.
David in NY (mail):
And your explanation is? He's a terrorist?
4.10.2007 3:25pm
wooga:
You're surprised that a professor is self-centered and paranoid?
4.10.2007 3:25pm
cirby (mail):
Howmanyofme.com turns up 707 people with the name "Walter Murphy."
4.10.2007 3:25pm
SlowThinker:

Of course, none of this directly answers whether Professor Murphy was targeted. But I think it does add reason to think (in light of the sparse facts we know) that Professor Murphy may be reading a bit more into things than is warranted.


Actually, it doesn't. Professor Murphy's feelings about Bush and Nixon do nothing to explain the fact that he was on the selectee list. He's only suggesting that the best answer he can come up with is his vocal opposition to this administration. Plame is an obvious example of how vindictive they can be.

Do you have any good explanation for why his name (and that of 380 others -- which,I should add, is 1 in 1 million) is on the selectee list??
4.10.2007 3:27pm
Charlie B. (mail):
It is only April, but Professor Murphy might be a candidate for the Ego of the Year Award.
4.10.2007 3:32pm
Jeff Shultz (mail):
Hmmm. We may have a forming case of BDS here - any psychiatrists want to make a research study of it?
4.10.2007 3:33pm
Justin (mail):
howmanyofme is a bad estimator. It looks at how many of x, how many of y, and then does math. What it fails to figure in to its equation is correlation. While there may be a lot of John, and a lot of Changs, there are probably not as many John Changs. Likewise, there are probably more Vijay Reddys than the math would indicate. The math assumes that a Vijay and a Chris have the same shot as being named Smith or Reddy.

To prove the point: There are 76 Jacque Smiths, but only 33 Jacque Martins. I don't buy that (there are apparently no Vijays of any kind, which is obviously false)
4.10.2007 3:36pm
David in NY (mail):
Well, comment summary so far: three ad hominems, one substantive tending to question a factual assertion of Murphy's, and one supporting Murphy's hypothesis. But, as the last states, nobody's actually ventured a convincing counter-hypothesis to Murphy's.
4.10.2007 3:36pm
John (mail):
What do we know?
1. Murphy was on the list.
2. Murphy doesn't like the Bush administration.

What do we not know?
1. Whether Murphy should, in fact, be on the list.
2. Whether he was put on the list because of his speech.

In view of what we do and don't know, it seems to me that it really doesn't make a lot of sense to discuss Murphy's "case." Of course, it might still be of interest to discuss no-fly lists in general, some of which has occurred in commentary to prior posts. But Murphy's case itself? Not enough information.
4.10.2007 3:38pm
TribalPundit (W&L 0L) (mail) (www):
Sorry if this has already been answered elsewhere, but have any of the other Walter Murphys done something like advocate Islamic takeover, made pipe bombs, or physically threatened flight staff in the past? "Walter Murphy" doesn't seem like that odd of a name (there are three in college listed on Facebook); is it that impossible to imagine that someone with the same name is a little sketchy?

For that matter, a name with German and Irish parts isn't all that rare (I mean, wasn't Don Vito Corleone's consigliere a "Kraut-Mick?"). I have an ultimately French first name, Scottish middle name, and German last name. I'm a white person in America: we tend to have backgrounds including various European nations. It's not as though his name were Mbele Murphy, Takahiro Murphy, or Alberto Murphy.
4.10.2007 3:52pm
Spitzer:
Assuming that the Bush Administration does not occupy its nights and weekends concocting ways corruptly subverting the nation's laws to inconvenience otherwise anonymous (and apparently narcissistic) professors, three more likely (and non-conspiratorial) explanations are (1) mistake by government employee in data entry, (2) data tracking software is overbroad, or (3) the data entry and software operated correctly, but someone using that name or a close varient (perhaps obtained through identity theft) performed some act that triggered data monitoring alarms. But at least it does sound like the accident has puffed up Murphy's ego a bit (and, goodness knows, academics need their egos massaged to justify the hours spent toiling away on publications no one reads and faculty meetings about topics no one cares).
4.10.2007 3:56pm
JB:
My hypothesis is that some terrorist somewhere used some alias of the form W. Murphy, and some compiler of the no-fly list stuck that name on there.

Judging from how the rest of The War Against Terror has been fought, I'd say that's as convincing and more.
4.10.2007 3:58pm
magoo (mail):
Just because he's paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get him.

I'd place my money on mistake rather than deliberate targeting.
4.10.2007 4:06pm
David in NY (mail):
I think that the hypothesis that there is a "terror-associated" person named "W. Murphy" or "Walter Murphy" could well be the cause, but doesn't it perhaps prove too much? Wouldn't there be 707 (or whatever) Walter Murphy's who were getting stopped and heaven only knows how many "W. Murphy's." Haven't heard that that's happening, and they seem to be stopping this particular guy.

But the Administration is so open about these sorts of things, I'm sure we'll get a full explanation shortly.
4.10.2007 4:07pm
AppSocRes (mail):
So Professor Murphy believes he is another victim of the plot initiated by Richard Armitage to punish enemies of the administration. Armitage started by outing Valerie Plame; now he appears to have gained control of the no-fly list. The man has to be stopped.
4.10.2007 4:08pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
I love the assertion that his luggage was lost as part of the conspiracy. I mean, seriously, so not even on the same leg, but on the way back, the TSA has a system that tells the baggage handlers whose luggage to lose? Give me a freaking break.
4.10.2007 4:10pm
Bryan DB:
FWIW,
The combination of "walter murphy" or "W. murphy" and "alias" is not found in a Lexis search of newspapers and magazine stories. Is that the type of thing that would be publicized, or kept under wraps?
4.10.2007 4:23pm
ed o:
do we have to continue on listening to plaudits for the good professor or can we now justifiably reach a conclusion on his pomposity? how about simply not believing him, despite his lofty credentials, because he sounds like a gasbag trying to get his name in the papers?
4.10.2007 4:23pm
elChato (mail):
Some of you are ignorant fools, or just plain dishonest, if you don't see the enormity of this terrifying incident- which Murphy brilliantly exposed by clever questioning of the Evil Lord Bush's servant (i.e. the airline ticket-taker). Had they gotten away with this, the 08 elections would doubtless have been suspended in a presidential power-grab.

As Kevin Colbert might say, this is JUST LIKE when America went to war over false reports of WMD. Except this time, people got hurt.
4.10.2007 4:24pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
David in NY,

The fact that we haven't heard from other Walter Murphys (ies?) who have been stopped isn't evidence - how often are people stopped for extra scrutiny? How often do we hear about it? This particular Murphy has called attention to one particular incident.

Conspiracy theorists seem to believe the government is omniscient. My rule of thumb is that if the White House can't keep a dalliance with an intern a secret, there is no way that the government could cover up involvement in the Kennedy assassination, or keep the thousands of people deriving technology from the spacecraft in Area 51 from going on Oprah.

It is also a good rule of thumb to not "attribute to malice that which can be adequately be explained by incompetence."

Even if the Bush administration (or any administration for that matter) was competent enough and had the time to go out of their way to mildly inconvenience minor critics, one suspects they would instead direct their puissance to more immediate concerns (like, I don't know, winning a war). Solving pressing problems would do more to silence/win over critics of the administration than misplacing their baggage.

Of course, take my opinion with a grain of salt. Perhaps I'm on Karl Rove's payroll. The conspiracy is, after all, enormous.
4.10.2007 4:25pm
ajftoo:
If this crackpot is actually on a no-fly list, and that's a big if, then ask yourself:
Would you want to share a plane with a nut like this?
4.10.2007 4:27pm
JoeLawyer (mail):

What do we know?
1. Murphy was on the list.


Uh, no, we do not "know" this. We know that Murphy says that he "was denied a boarding pass because [he] was on the Terrorist Watch list". He does not tell us how he knows this - presuambly someone told him that, although he does not say who. We have no way of evaluating whether it is, in fact, true. And, moreover, Murphy himself has no way of evaluating whether it is, in fact, true.

Moreover, given the extensive problems with Murphy's credibility, I'd put the chances that he actually is on the list at approximately .01%
4.10.2007 4:29pm
David in NY (mail):
I agree with you Smallholder, that incompetence is often a better explanation for things than malice. But hardly always. And certainly not always with this Administration (although incompetence is rife enough). The revelation of Plame's name and status were no accident. The attempt by Republican office-holders, using the DOJ, to secure the prompt indictment of Democrats was no accident, the slanders of countless insiders who have told the truth about the Administration (from Paul O'Niell to Matthew Dows, with many in between) were no accident. This course of conduct must at least be recognized. It is the signature tactic, after all, of Karl Rove. In the circumstance, neither incompetence nor malice can be ruled out. I, for one, do not find that comforting. I would prefer an administration where neither of these explanations leapt so easily to mind.
4.10.2007 4:35pm
David in NY (mail):
Oops, the ad hominem count is on the upsurge!! When in doubt, slander the guy, it's the right-wing way!
4.10.2007 4:37pm
ed o:
the "ad hominem" attacks launched by those such as myself are based on the quotes from this guy. again, we are committing the dastardly act of reading what he says. how dare the ad hominemers do such a thing. Based on what he says, I draw a conclusion that he is not telling the truth and that he is a publicity hound. of course, academics are known for their higher level of honesty than the boobs of non-academic america. I have never read or heard of an academic being less than truthful or overly dramatizing lost luggage.
4.10.2007 4:43pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
Prof Kerr wrote:


First, I can't see any connection between this and the outing of Valerie Plame



That's funny, the Plame affair was the first thing I thought of when I read the initial post. Remember, it was a "vicious" attempt by Cheney and or Bush to "smear" their "enemies." On day one of that whole saga, I remember thinking that didn't make any sense. How exactly did it "smear" or "discredit" Wilson to trumpet the fact that his wife worked for the CIA? I mean, so what? But even normally smart, skeptical Bush critics convinced themselves -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- that it was all a Machiavellian plot by those evil, scheming Republicans.

Occam's Razor suggests we are talking about mere incompetence here, not malice. But then, I'm a graduate of a 10th-rate public university, not a professor emeritus at Princeton, so what do I know?

- Alaska Jack
4.10.2007 4:47pm
eddie (mail):
Distinguished professor of law who does not agree with your politics is simply to be discarded as a pompous old fool.

Now that's good old fashioned respect for one's elders.

Or has the baby been thrown out with the bath water and now it's time to re-evaluate his writings given the assumptions made here that he is a raving paranoid narcissistic liberal?

I am continually amazed at the lack of intelligence displayed by those who aspire to post-graduate degrees. And in the sobering and vaunted field of the law.
4.10.2007 4:48pm
rarango (mail):
It seemns to be that if the good professor chooses to take the word of a ticket clerk for a private corporation as an official government explanation, he might want to consider retaking some sort of evidence class--you JDs get that in the first year, right?

Having made the smart ass comment, and since DavidNY is keeping score, Prof Murphy's situation, however, does raise another more important question--Once on such an apparently kafkaesque list, why is it so difficult to get off of it--that to me is the more important question.
4.10.2007 5:02pm
Bruce:
"It begins to strain credulity," he said.

Wait -- so it's already beyond straining credibility? When did that happen?
4.10.2007 5:08pm
Hmmmm...:
Thousands of critics of the Bush administration fly every day -- indeed, thousands who are more prominent than Walter Murphy. The really tough question that we need to crack is: Why has the administration targeted Ted Kennedy and Walter Murphy? What is it about those two that makes them so dangerous to the administration that they, unlike thousands of other administration critics, just cannot be allowed to fly anymore? What is the connection between the two? What information do they share that is so dangerous to the administration that they -- but not Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Paul Krugman -- must be harassed at the airport? The Bush administration is devious indeed, as they clearly have made a connection that we all cannot.
4.10.2007 5:12pm
Bill Harshaw (mail) (www):
The Post's local columnist John Kelly writes today about being pulled to one side for special scrutiny upon returning from overseas. column

Stipulating that the Administration had good reason for putting "Walter Murphy" on a list, that the good Professor is being unduly paranoid (as well as showing an entirely unwarranted faith in the ability of this Administration to execute, at least in the matter of putting opponents on lists), that we need lists; stipulating all that as I say it still bothers me that such lists corrode the trust and confidence a citizen should have in his government. I go back to David Brin's "Transparent Society"—there should be a way for people to see the list and challenge the process and the information.
4.10.2007 5:20pm
Russ (mail):
Nice how David in NY and Eddie see a liberal professor and immediately jump to "right wing attacks." No, sure couldn't be that this guy, whatever his scholarly credentials, is just a pompous windbag who thinks he is so important that the government has to go after him.

Still, maybe he has gotten what he wanted. After his, "Don't you know who I am comment," we ARE still talking about him.
4.10.2007 5:47pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
I don't want to be accused of ad hominemmmmmming someone, but. . . if he was really on a "no-fly" list, how did he, you know, fly? I mean isn't that how Cheney and Rice mishandled his bag?
4.10.2007 5:52pm
Jeff Shultz (mail):
Best of the Web for April 10th (http://opinionjournal.com/best/) says that the claim he was on the no-fly list is completely bogus, as he was eventually allowed to fly.

It seems more likely he was a "selectee" for a random screening - which happened to my wife and I on the way back from our honeymoon because a helpful airline counter agent rearranged our return itinerary from Orlando to get us home earlier than we were scheduled...

Oh - the TSA also has a low opinion of the airline clerk's editorializing as presented in the article - he'd better watch out for his job if the airline figures out who he is.
4.10.2007 5:57pm
C L:
I have a very simple explanation of why the airline clerk would claim that people participating in peace marches get put on the list:

1. Person X discovers that their name is on the list in front of the clerk
2. Their name is on the list only because someone else with the same or similar name was targeted.
3. Person X speculates as to why they may be on the list. Many people participate in peace marches, it's probably among the most common thing people think of.
4. The airline clerk begins to see a correlation between being on the no-fly-list and peace marches.

Remember that the list doesn't only contain names, it also contains name fragments. The list may only have W. Murphey, or Walter M. and this individual would be flagged.
4.10.2007 6:01pm
frankcross (mail):
Well, it's by no means unknown for very renowned, intelligent people to make mistaken judgments out of their ideological priors. That may be what happened here. Of course, all the people trashing the person are just saying they are guilty of the charges they are making. Rather than simply saying he was mistaken, they have to trash the person, which shows they have their own ideological bias and disregard for truth. Had this been a conservative critiquing Pelosi, all the criticisms, windbag, etc., would have been flipflopped, as with the defenders, I'm sure.
4.10.2007 6:02pm
KeithK (mail):
David in NY, when you're convinced that the Bush administration has commited crimes left and right and all of their actions are filled with malice then it probably is easy to assume that anything suspicious is evidence of further wrong doing. (I'm being hyperbolic here but other than that I don't think I'm mischaracterizing your position as expressed in your posts.) If on the other hand you don't believe these things about the administration the "evidence" in this case seems extremely weak. There isn't any really. All we know is that the man was subject to extra screening.
4.10.2007 6:04pm
rarango (mail):
Frank: your point is well taken, however in this red/blue world we apparently inhabit now, mistakes are often mistaken for lies or worse.
4.10.2007 6:07pm
JonC:
Not sure if it's been mentioned yet, but James Taranto discussed Murphy's case with TSA administrator Kip Hawley, and wrote about it here. Long story short, it seems like there's far less here than meets the eye.
4.10.2007 6:21pm
MAS (mail):
The Wall Street Journal has an explanation from Kip Hawley, administrator of the Transportation Security Agency. Hawley explains Murphy.
4.10.2007 6:23pm
ed o:
criticizing Pelosi for what she did or criticizing her while fantasizing about the written contract she has with Assad to assume control of the United States when she becomes president? it seems like the windbag's paranoid fantasies about his own importance fall into the latter category. I guess you can't criticize a lofty academic for shooting his mouth off and sounding like an imbecile anymore.
4.10.2007 6:30pm
EricH (mail):
According to the professor, an airline employee (?) told him re people who participate in "speech marches" (sic) : "...'We ban a lot of people from flying for that.' "

"We"? "Ban"? "A lot of people"? "Speech marches"?

Rashomon, American-style.
4.10.2007 7:05pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
MAS -

No way! I can't believe you fell for that! Sure -- Hawley "just happened" to be at the WSJ offices THE DAY AFTER this important story broke! Obviously, James Taranto and Kip Hawley are part of the unholy cabal here, and this whole affair was set up from the beginning. But while drawing up the evil plan, Cheney made one crucial oversight: He didn't anticipate the betrayal of his confidante and right-hand man, the selfless airline clerk who dragged the whole sordid affair into the light of day.

Thank you, noble airline clerk, whoever you may be. The dark night of tyranny will never fall while incorruptible warriors like you toil in unceasing vigilance!

- Alaska Jack
4.10.2007 7:11pm
nrein1 (mail):
The watch list is an absolutely joke as many have pointed out, it seems as if the smallest bit of fragmented information can cause this problem. I have a hypothesis, I am not saying this did happened, but I do not see why it could not have happened. It seems to me that tons of low level people can put in information that can cause names to end up on the list. It would not suprise me to find out that some of these people are a bit vindictive and put names on the list for less then approrpriate reasons, after all it doesn't take much justification to get a name on there. Perhaps one did hear the professor speak and decided he was going to make his life more difficult, then the professor could be right that he was targeted for his views but at the same time this "consperisy" to make his life difficult does not extend up very far. Again not saying this did happen, I just see no reason why it couldn't happen.
4.10.2007 7:11pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
The beauty of paranoia is that it requires almost nothing to sustain it.
4.10.2007 7:49pm
Russ (mail):
frankcross,

The reason most haven't gone with the "mistake" thing that you have latched onto is b/c Mr. Murphy himself is showing exactly how inflated his head is.

I promise to come down off of my soapbox when Mr. Murphy climbs down from his.
4.10.2007 8:13pm
wooga:
there should be a way for people to see the list and challenge the process and the information.

Bill Harshaw, I disagree 100% here. Letting people see the list and learn how it is compiled would defeat the entire purpose of this list. Assuming the list is intended to flag potential terrorists for additional scrutiny, then publicizing the process would be the best way to assist terrorists in avoiding said heightened scrutiny. The list/process should be overseen by a limited group, and not the general public. Otherwise, what's the point in having a list in the first place?
4.10.2007 8:22pm
wooga:
To all the people screaming "you evil righties are using an ad hominem" : I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Specifically, my comment that the professor is paranoid and self-centered is not technically an ad hominem, as it actually goes to the very substance of the man's accusations. These two traits explain why he thinks he's being singled out and persecuted. Lots of people are flagged as a matter of random mistake. This guy, because he is paranoid and self-centered, sees a design and plan behind the random mistake. I bet this guy even believes in a flying spaghetti monster!

Here's an illustration:
Al Gore: "I am being mocked because I am black."
Joe: "Al Gore is white."
Has right-wing Joe committed an ad hominem? NO.
4.10.2007 8:29pm
wooga:
I am continually amazed at the lack of intelligence displayed by those who aspire to post-graduate degrees. And in the sobering and vaunted field of the law.

Eddie,
I am continually amazed at the arrogance and condescension shown by those who apparently see anyone who disagrees with them as "right wing crazies." So much for the "reality based community."
4.10.2007 8:36pm
J Bailey:
All of this ranting against this list and how Murphy was mistaken for someone else misses a salient point. He was almost certainly not on the no-fly or terrorist watch list. How do I know? Because he tells us so with his statement, "On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was 'lost.'" A watch-list, as opposed to the 'random' selection for extra screening, is presumably in effect every time one attempts to fly.

The only reason I say 'almost certainly' was not on the list is that we cannot discount the possibility that 'the evil Bush hegemony' realized who they had harassed and quickly took his name off in order to give themselves cover from the inevitable firestorm that would ensue. Or something.

We can discuss how inaccurate the watch-lists are, how hard it is to get off them, how ineffective they may be, or any other variation on the theme. But please let's not use this case as an example. The only story here is the clerk who fed into his paranoia. Whether it was sincerely said, sarcasm, or just a way to get an obviously very upset passenger to redirect his anger, it has led to a PR kerfuffle for the TSA and airlines in general. I'm sure his or her fellow ticket agents will love the new rants they will now hear from people on the random selection list in the future.
4.10.2007 8:52pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
wooga:

Your point that intellignece / law enforcement is more efficient when secret is true in one way, but ignores some of the basic realities of how massive bureaucracies act. The people staffing all organizations have goals and interests which are different from the organization itself. This "agency problem" is not unique to government, but governments tend to exhibit it more, because they are among the largest organizations, and their accountability/control procedures tend to be weaker (to avoid problems of oppression).

At best, the management of any bureaucracy focuses more on *seeming* effective than on *being* effective (since *seeming* effective is how one gets promoted). The FBI is frequently criticized for this, and the criticism appears to have some foundation. I've worked for other federal agencies, some of which I thought did a good job, and they all have this problem to a greater or lesser extent. Nor is this agency problem new - Shakespeare referred to "the insolence of office" as one of life's unavoidable evils.

Sure, it *could* be efficient and effective in secret, if the tens of thousands of people involved could find a way to overcome the agency problems. But, in the real world, thats impossible, and secrecy typically ends up being more useful for covering up administrative embarrassment than for furthering the mission.
4.10.2007 9:01pm
wooga:
PDXLawyer,
You are correct. I interpret this view as "secrecy breeds incompetence and abuse." But I don't see how any flight watch list can be effective if it operates under publicly available criteria. If we published the formula, it wouldn't matter to joe public (since it would be marginally inconvenient to tailor their behavior patterns just to comply), and joe public would still get mis-flagged at about the current rate. It would make a big difference to an actual terrorist, however, who would have a strong motivation to tailor his behavior to avoid scrutiny. If terrorist "bob" knew the forumla, he would know when he was NOT going to get higher scrutiny, and thus he would have a huge increase in effectiveness.

So yes, the secrecy has problems. But I don't see any way around it. As far as "seeming effective" goes, I have to say that when the issue is stopping plane attacks, things "seem" pretty successful to me (albeit annoying and inefficient).
4.10.2007 9:18pm
Bored Lawyer:

Murphy doesn't think that his name — which, he points out, is half-German, half-Irish — is common enough to suggest a case of mistaken identity.
"I've only known of one other Walter Murphy, and that was a rock guy back in the '70s," he said.

* * *

Second, a quick check with Peoplefinder found 380 people with the name "Walter Murphy." The fact that Professor Murphy has "only known of one other" seems a bit myopic


The word myopic is too kind. Stupid is a better description. Does the good Professor really think that 'Walter Murphy' is a name unique to him?

Good thing for tenure.
4.10.2007 10:23pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I agree with J Bailey. If Murphy were on the dreaded no-fly list, then why wasn't he detained on his return trip too? Instead, his baggage was lost by the airline. He apparently attributes that to the evil Bushitler too.

If he is on the no-fly list, then his name should pop up whenever he travels. It doesn't.
4.10.2007 10:37pm
Dave N (mail):
I think the James Taranto's Best of the Web commentary is spot on.
For those suffering from BDS, I have a simple question. Are the people in Bush Adminstration bumbling idiots, who lie about everything but make make Inspector Cleuseau Forrest Gump look like Mensa candidates or are they so smart and so cleanly efficient in their desire to make the United States the Fourth Reich that they are monitoring the political activities of obscure retired college professors so they can put these people on the No Fly List?
Just asking.
4.10.2007 10:53pm
Dave N (mail):
Reposting so it makes better sense (damn not checking "Preview" first) (more than 4 spotted errors, but who's counting?):

I think James Taranto's Best of the Web commentary is spot on.

For those suffering from BDS, I have a simple question. Are the people in the Bush Adminstration bumbling idiots, who lie about everything but who make make Inspector Cleuseau and Forrest Gump look like Mensa candidates or are they so smart and so cleanly efficient in their desire to make the United States the Fourth Reich that they are monitoring the political activities of obscure retired college professors so they can put these people on the No Fly List?
Just asking.
4.10.2007 10:58pm
DJB (mail):
Professor Murphy's feelings about Bush and Nixon do nothing to explain the fact that he was on the selectee list.

As others have pointed out, the fact that Murphy was allowed to fly proves he wasn't on the no-fly list. It may be that his *name*, which he shares with hundreds of other people in the United States, was on the no-fly list. The most obvious explanation is that somebody else with that name did something to get put on the list -- not that Bush is singling out some no-name professor for critical remarks.
4.10.2007 10:58pm
DJB (mail):
I think that the hypothesis that there is a "terror-associated" person named "W. Murphy" or "Walter Murphy" could well be the cause, but doesn't it perhaps prove too much? Wouldn't there be 707 (or whatever) Walter Murphy's who were getting stopped and heaven only knows how many "W. Murphy's."

If Walter Murphy is, in fact, on the list then all 706 of those other Walter Murphys would, in fact, be getting stopped and questioned, too. That's how the system works.

Either (a) this is not happening because Walter Murphy's name is not, in fact, on the watch list (we have only his word on this, remember) or (b) it IS happening, and we have not heard about it simply because the average person, when selected for heightened scrutiny during the boarding process (before being allowed, as in this case, to continue to board the plane) does not immediately run to the press screaming "OMFG teh Bushitler is oppressing me". That sort of behavior is reserved for the excessively narcissistic.
4.10.2007 11:06pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Have you found your names on the government no gun list?
4.10.2007 11:29pm
Malvolio:
The scene: a dank cave lit only by flickering sconces. Moans and the clank of heavy chains sound from the dimmest recesses. In center of the cave, a mordant figure in sable robes sits on a throne carved from the living rock.

A factotum scurries toward his master, bent almost double. "Lord Cheney, public opposition to our war of conquest is growing."

The dark lord's voice is barely above a whisper. "This is as anticipated."

"But, Lord, what shall we do?"

Cheney's eyes glow even more reddly as he considers. "How many are foolish enough to oppose us?"

"Millions, mighty Lord, millions."

"Select out one of them for ... special treatment."

The factotum cackles evilly. "Death, my lord?"

There is a pause. "No, death is too good for him. Too quick. We must make an example. Put him on the list for..." He seems to savor the punishment for a moment before pronouncing it, the blackened tongue running over the sharp teeth. "Put him on the list for a five-minute delay on check-in at the airport. But only once. After all, we don't want people to think we're monsters." Something like a laugh, a low Satanic laugh, erupts from the creature on the throne.

The factotum nods gravely and turns to leave, only to hear, "One more thing."

"Yes, Lord?"

"Lose his luggage."
4.10.2007 11:34pm
SmokeandAshes (mail):
The following quote was found on Patterico and I thought it would be apt for this discussion.


Proof that it's ineffectual would be when someone blows a plane up. The fact that it inconveniences people is only proof that it's a government program.

Comment by Pablo

4.11.2007 12:00am
Dave N (mail):
Malvolio--

That was the best satire I have read in long time. Keep it up.
4.11.2007 12:40am
Google Is My Friend:
For perspective: Zabasearch shows about 40 Walter Murphys with unique addresses in New Jersey. Some of those are undoubtedly duplicates, but I'm not interested enough to check them that closely.

The Social Security Death Index lists 556 Walter Murphys. It has 1 "Orin Kerr" 2 "Lawrence/Laurence Tribe" 11 "Bruce Ackerman" 254 "Louis/Louis Powell" and 1022 "William Douglas/Douglass," and over 16000 "John Smith."
4.11.2007 12:55am
Bruce:
Malvolio, even if Murphy *is* on the watch list, that's brilliant.
4.11.2007 1:07am
ray:
David in NY

You haven't a clue why Libby wasn't indicted concerning Plame. Aren't you aware that you can't out an agent who is public? She wasn't a covert agent. Layoff those detective classes.
4.11.2007 1:08am
JB:
Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

However, since as many have pointed out he was allowed to fly again without specific scrutiny, hew as most likely not on the no-fly list. So this is an instance of neither incompetence nor malice.
4.11.2007 1:39am
JB:
No fly don't bother me
No fly don't bother me
No fly don't bother me
I'm professor Walt Murphy
I'm not a terrorist, George Bush lies
I'm not a terrorist, tell me why
I'm not a terrorist, I can't fly
but they still lost my baggage
4.11.2007 1:47am
Toby:
How about:

Bored Airline Gate person, deals with angry shouting passengers for most of each day, gradually develops coping mechanism of trying to guess which explanation will most excite the &**()() in front of him who has pushed one too many buttons.

Actually, there is a pool going with the other gate people which will be won when one of them literally makes the angry shouter's head explode. They're still working on the target phrase. "A Lot of Peace Activists" seems to come close.
4.11.2007 9:42am
Tom Maguire (mail):
Why is Prof. Murphy on the No-Fly list? Murphy's Law.
4.11.2007 11:28am
Enoch:
For those suffering from BDS, I have a simple question. Are the people in the Bush Adminstration bumbling idiots, who lie about everything but who make make Inspector Cleuseau and Forrest Gump look like Mensa candidates or are they so smart and so cleanly efficient in their desire to make the United States the Fourth Reich that they are monitoring the political activities of obscure retired college professors so they can put these people on the No Fly List?

People with BDS will answer, "Yes!"
4.11.2007 7:40pm
Enoch:
Have you found your names on the government no gun list?

Which is the same as the DC and NYC white pages. =)
4.11.2007 7:43pm
neurodoc:
Is it accepted wisdom that Valerie Plame was "targeted" in order to punish her husband for speaking out? Is it implausible that "punishing" her husband wasn't what Cheney or anyone working for him was out to do, though they might have wished the worst for him, but rather that they were out to discredit Wilson and cast doubt on his conclusions about the Niger story, with Plame in effect "collateral damage"?

The Daily Princetonian's account with the additional insights to Professor Murphy's reasoning only serves to make him look sillier in my eyes.
4.11.2007 8:41pm