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Mississippi man on FBI no-fly list left stranded in Hawaii

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:47 p.m. HST, Oct 19, 2012

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii >> Hawaii is a paradise for most visitors. But it was Wade Hicks Jr.’s prison for five days.

The 34-year-old from Gulfport, Miss., was stranded in the islands this week after being told he was on the FBI’s no-fly list during a layover for a military flight from California to Japan.

The episode left Hicks scrambling to figure out how he’d get home from Hawaii without being able to fly. Then he was abruptly removed from the list on Thursday with no explanation. 

It also raised questions beyond how he landed on the list: How could someone on a list intelligence officials use to inform counterterrorism investigations successfully fly standby on an Air Force flight?

Hicks said he was traveling to visit his wife, a U.S. Navy lieutenant who’s deployed in Japan. He hitched a ride on the military flight as is common for military dependents, who are allowed to fly on scheduled routes when there’s room.

Hicks said that during his layover at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent told him he was on the no-fly list and wouldn’t be allowed on a plane.

“I said, ‘How am I supposed to get off this island and go see my wife or go home?’ And her explanation was: ‘I don’t know,”’ Hicks said.

Hicks said he was shocked and thought they must have had the wrong person because he doesn’t have a criminal record and recently passed an extensive background check in Mississippi to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

But the agent said his name, Social Security number and date of birth matched the person prohibited from flying, Hicks said. He wasn’t told why and wondered whether his controversial views on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks played a role. Hicks said he disagrees with the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions about the attacks.

A Homeland Security spokesman referred questions to the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, which maintains the report. A spokesman for the center declined to comment on Hicks’ case. The government doesn’t disclose who’s on the list or why someone might have been placed on it.

The list of roughly 20,000 people and about 500 to 600 Americans includes names and classified evidence against suspected terrorists who are not allowed to fly in U.S. airspace. 

The list can be updated within minutes, so it’s possible Hicks was added to the list while in midair from Travis Air Force Base in California to Hawaii.

A spokesman for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s office said passengers who fly standby on military flights are screened against the FBI’s list only on international flights. Domestic passengers are screened only through an internal military system, not the Advanced Passenger Information System run by Customs and Border Protection. 

“It’s scary to know that something like this can happen in a free country. You’re not accused of any crime. You haven’t been contacted by anyone. No investigation has been done. No due process has taken place,” he said.

He got a hotel room at the Pearl Harbor naval base while he worked things out. Being on the list didn’t stop him from staying on a base that’s home to submarines, cruisers and destroyers.

Hicks said he called politicians in Mississippi and Hawaii and brainstormed ways to get home with friends, speculating on taking a private plane, a cruise ship or even a fishing boat from Alaska. He then got a call on Thursday that he had been removed from the no-fly list.

Hicks planned to take a military flight back to California on Friday to meet his wife, who will be coming from Japan, and said he plans to seek to recoup his added travel costs from the government.

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AhiPoke wrote:
If a person scews up, it may be criminal. If the government screws up, it's not their problem. I better stop here before I get added to that list.
on October 19,2012 | 01:56PM
patk wrote:
People are so short-sighted and selfish. Everybody with the me-me-me attitude is so pathetic. Things happen for reasons greater than one's own existence. Deal with it and move on.
on October 19,2012 | 02:22PM
HD36 wrote:
There's millions of people that disagree with the 911 commission report, including alot of fireman who heard and felt bombs going off in the basement before the planes hit the tower.
on October 19,2012 | 06:43PM
Buckykat wrote:
Our daughter's a structural engineer and described exactly how the planes took down the towers. Those who believe otherwise are uneducated in properties of various structural components, heat, and general physics.
on October 19,2012 | 06:57PM
HD36 wrote:
Did she explain how tower 7 went down with no plane hitting it? In fact it was completely left out of the 9/11 commision report. Did she explain why there was thermite found at the molten metal which held the towers up?
on October 20,2012 | 12:54AM
BHH wrote:
Think about this story and then compare it to the knowcommunists and convicted domestic terrorists with whom Barack Hussein Obama associates. There is no way that Obama could EVER pass a security background check. Quite the irony, isn't it...
on October 19,2012 | 02:14PM
Kaimiloa wrote:
I see your point. Surely, candidates for President of the United States of America don't have to pass any kind of background check. How did he slip through? Was it the Jewish conspiracy? No, that can't be. He's a Muslim. Hmmm, was it the Free Masons? Black Panthers with all of their political clout? I can't figure it out. How's the view from your bunker?
on October 19,2012 | 04:44PM
primowarrior wrote:
This has to be the most asinine comment I've ever seen.
on October 19,2012 | 06:43PM
Dragonman wrote:
Its not so much that he was on the list that has him upset, no one could tell him why he was on the list nor why he was taken off the list. If any one of us were treated that way we would feel the same as Hicks.
on October 19,2012 | 02:49PM
false wrote:
All bloggers and activist that don't tow Obama's big government lie will eventually be put on the list to force people into silence. The only reason he got off the list is because of the elections.
on October 19,2012 | 03:28PM
localguy wrote:
Sad to say it is these consistent, ongoing failures with the FBI's no fly list, showing they haven't got a clue how to effectively manage it. Refusing any chance of a person wrongfully placed on the the list due to willful incompetence by the FBI, giving the person a fair chance to clear their name. Sad the FBI feels they are the law, above any court, when it comes to managing this list, judge, jury, and executioner. More clueless acts by an agency and the TSA, all without professional management. Way too many stories in the news about incidents with both agencies, showing poor leadership and worker training. Any person placed on the list deserves the right to review the evidence, showing where it is wrong. Anything else is placing the Nazi's back in charge.
on October 19,2012 | 06:14PM
HD36 wrote:
He must be a Ron Paul follower.
on October 19,2012 | 06:40PM
ainaboy wrote:
Or perhaps, they wouldn't let him through the metal detector with his tin foil hat on...
on October 19,2012 | 09:11PM
rangerwvu wrote:
If I were stranded anywhere on the way to Missisippi I would probably not be that angry about it....
on October 20,2012 | 11:59AM
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