Statement of David C. Nelson

Document Date: April 6, 2004

ACLU “No-Fly” Lawsuit

David C. Nelson
Age: 34
Nationality: U.S. Citizen
Occupation: Attorney

I am a patriot, and I would never stand by and let anyone say or even imply otherwise. And yet someone in my government has done exactly that: someone I have never met has branded me a potential terrorist – a person who would harm his fellow Americans – because my name is on a No-Fly list.

This lawsuit is a kind of last resort; reasonable efforts to reach out to the government for relief have all failed. To be clear: I am not participating in this lawsuit for money, and I don’t expect any sympathy for the time and money I lose with each delay at the airport (at last count I’ve been stopped more than forty times).

Neither my name nor my story is unique. In the past several months I have learned that other citizens who share my name have experienced similar problems at airports all around the country. Even David Nelson, the star of the TV sitcom “”The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,”” said he was stopped in California last December while on his way to visit his daughter in Salt Lake City. Happily, we David Nelsons have kept our sense of humor. A pair of comedians in Portland, Oregon wrote a song about us. It goes like this:

“”They call me David Nelson and my name has been besmirched

When I fly across my country, I will always be strip-searched

Somewhere a David Nelson is allegedly quite mean

And the TSA ain’t able to declare my person clean . . .

I missed my flight from Texas and I missed my flight to Spain

You’d think my second cousin was a Tikrit named Hussein

I’m scrutinized and sanitized by security and then

The next time that I fly, they have to do it all again.””

The clever poetry neatly summarizes our situation. And while those lines are amusing, what’s not so funny is being questioned by police in front of my children. When my young children see a police officer-a “”good guy””-asking questions of me, I can see them wondering: Is Daddy a bad guy? Why else would the police officer be asking Daddy all those questions? And then I have to explain that the good guys made a mistake.

It seems to me that if the government can make me a suspect, it ought to let me demonstrate that I am not guilty – that I am not the bad guy – and take me off their list. And I have demonstrated that-repeatedly. In short, I just want to be treated like every other law-abiding, tax-paying American: free to travel about the country and stand in the same long lines like everybody else.

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