Because of my “FBI status” and the inconveniences we suffer when traveling together, amongst my friends, I’m known as their “little terrorist”. Let me explain. As a freelancer I had the opportunity to work long term with a national Japanese news agency. And that was the beginning of all my traveling woes. Well, only in so much that I can never check in to my flights online anymore.
One of the more memorable set of projects, and the cause of all my traveling pains, was related to news coming out about Iran and the controversy surrounding their nuclear energy site, which many believed was being surreptitiously used to make weapons-grade uranium.
The whole world was obviously freaked out by this development in Iran but the Japanese were really concerned. They themselves are banned from possessing an army or weapons of this nature and it is an even more disconcerting situation when they are dependent on the United States for their national security. (Just think about that one, Iran, US, not friendly…) Also, the upcoming switch in administration (Bush to Obama) caused anxiety because of the uncertainty a new administration with potentially different ideas might have negative affects on their national security. Incidentally, the man responsible for putting me on this series of projects was Jewish, and he was approached by his activist Jewish friends with ties to the Israeli intelligence agency, to “donate” a copy of particular interviews (with terrorists) for analysis, which he denied. So crazy!
So what does any of this have to do with my traveling problems? Well imagine me, hunched over my computer late at night doing research on the internet looking up nuclear energy building sites, machinery, processes involving uranium, weapons grade, non-weapons grade, schematics… blah, blah, blah… I might as well have been looking up “How To Build A Nuclear Bomb”! So if you ever think, “No one knows what I’m searching or looking up on the net…” I’m here to tell you otherwise!
So now, I am basically never allowed to check-in online when traveling by plane because they always want to see my mug in person. When I asked the ticketing counter what the problem was, she paused… then said I was on the FBI Watch List?!?! Yikes! I didn’t bother to mention that I was probably legitimately on that list! Even as I did my research, I had a feeling that Uncle Sam might be watching and that I might get flagged but the research had to be done and I needed the money. Was it worth it? Too late now!
The take home message is, be careful what you search for on the internet because Uncle Sam is just waiting to put the kibosh on your ease of traveling… at least by air!