Prof. Murphy and the watch list: No real story there?

Most likely he was pulled out of line at random, and ran into a loudmouth airline clerk who told him a fairytale. Sorry about that.

It now seems likely that my post last night about a retired Marine colonel and Princeton professor put on the terrorist watch list for delivering an anti-Bush lecture was based on error. Accepting Prof. Murphy’s account of his experience as completely accurate, the most plausible interpretation seems to be that he was randomly selected for a search, and that the airline clerk he dealt with was pretending to know something he would have had no way of knowing.

There are still questions to be asked about how the lists are constructed, maintained, and used, but there seems to be little reason to believe that the incident represents political payback or official misconduct of any kind.

Sorry to help raise a fuss about what was probably nothing. Back to more substantial scandals.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com