WASHINGTON – Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta says a mix-up on a terrorist watch list is still wreaking havoc on his air travel five years after the problem arose.
The 11-term Democratic congressman wrote to the House Homeland Security Committee this week that he’s still subjected to repeated airport searches and required to present multiple forms of identification. The problem persists even though Homeland Security recently gave him a letter to show airlines that was supposed to clear things up.
If it’s still happening to a congressman, he wrote, “you can only imagine what the average American suffers.”
“I have been trying to get off (this list) for years,” he wrote. “It is wrong.”
Lewis’ travel hassles – along with those of other high-profile figures such as Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts – began several years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as the government quickly expanded its watch lists. Airline officials have told Lewis that extra security is triggered because someone with a similar name is under suspicion.
On Friday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to respond to Lewis’ complaints. Thompson asked that Chertoff report to the committee how many other people with the name John Lewis have reported similar problems.