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Green Party USA Coordinator Detained At Airport by National Guard, forbidden from flying to attend Peace Conference - 9/11

Rotating Compass & Square


November 3, 2001

Barred at the Gate

Interview of Nancy Oden

by Declan McCullagh

(Ed. Note: Nancy Oden is a top U.S. Green Party official and a member of the party's coordinating committee. An organic farmer, peace activist, and all-around firebrand, she lives in Jonesboro, Maine.)

"Just a few weeks ago I had a piece in the Bangor paper. It's on our website... I submitted it under my name alone. It's a fairly radical piece; that's what I do. I'm a political and environmental activist.

"I walked into the Bangor airport. What I saw was National Guard folks all over carrying machine guns... The atmosphere was very tense... This was Thursday... I went over to the American Airlines ticket counter way down at the end. Nobody else was there, except the clerk. I gave him my name. He didn't even ask for photo ID. It was almost like they were expecting me. He put it into the computer. He stayed on the computer a long time, like 10 minutes.

"He put an S on the boarding pass, for search. He said, 'You've been picked for having your bag searched.' ... I said to him, 'This wasn't random, was it?' He said, 'No you were in there to be searched, no matter what.' I went over to baggage to put my bags through the X-ray and then went into the boarding area.

"There was this National Guard guy there. He yells over at me, so everyone can hear, 'Bring your bags over here.' You know how they are when they're all puffed up with themselves. He said, 'Hurry up,' so I slowed down some more.

"I put my bags on the table. The two women employees were standing there. [I tried to help them with a stuck zipper.] He grabbed my left arm, he started yelling in my face, 'Don't you know what happened? Sep. 11, don't you know thousands of people died?' I said, 'You can't do that.' He went to grab my arm, and I said, 'Don't touch me.' I saw an older airline guy shake his head, 'No,' and he backed off.

"That insulted his little manhood. He could not force me to listen to his idiot ideas on Sep. 11, whatever it was he wanted to say. So he was angry. I hadn't done anything except pull away from him... I think he was trying to provoke me. They did the wand thing, they were done, and I heard him say real soft, 'Don't let her on the plane,' like he was talking to himself.

"Then I go to get on the plane since we're all done and everything, and the American Airlines ticket guy says,' You can't get on the plane.' I say, 'Why not?' ... He says, 'Because this guy says you didn't cooperate with the search.' ... I said, 'Didn't you see him grab my arm?' He said, 'No, your back was to me.'

"He said, 'Maybe we can get you on the 4:00 plane, it's the last one today.' I felt, okay, let's put up with this aggravation now and I'll go to Chicago and we'll see what we can do... Then this little guard guy, it wasn't enough to stop me, wasn't done with me. He said, 'Come with me.' I followed very slowly, I sat down for a while. I said I'm carrying these bags; I need a rest... It's called passive resistance.

"He went and found the airport police to come and talk with me. He went and got six other National Guard guys and they all approached me. Here are these six untrained, ignorant, don't-know-how-to-deal-with-the-public, machine-gun-armed young guys in their camouflage suits with their military gear hanging off of it.

"I looked up and started laughing, 'Is all this for me, guys? What is this about?' There was this big burly guy, he was in front. He said, 'You didn't cooperate with the search.' ... I said what he did was grabbed my arm, and I backed away... He said he only hit your arm. I said even if that's all he did, he's not allowed to do that. He can't hit my arm and demand I listen to him.

"They had the airport policeman tell me, 'You're not flying out of this airport today.' ... Of course I had cooperated; why do I care if they search my bags? ... What I didn't like was being singled out because of my political views. They couldn't arrest me because there was no reason for that. They had people who saw there was nothing to arrest me for. They wanted to get back at me somehow because I was not a subservient female, because I questioned their manhood.

"I went to the American Airlines guy and said, 'Is this just today?' He said, 'I don't know.' One clerk said, 'You could drive to Boston [five hours away] and see if you can get out of there.'

"I never made it out of Bangor. I had to turn around and drive 100 miles back home... The fact that they gave the other airlines my name... They told me they did that... That's incredible."

Declan McCullagh is the politics editor for Wired. He also runs Politech, the excellent and informative politics and technology mailing list.


Green Party USA Coordinator Detained At Airport

CounterPunch Wire



What's Happening with the Bangor Airport Incident

By Nancy Oden

November 10, 2001

Postscript: I have since gotten in touch with the Bangor Airport manager who assures me that it's fine with them if they fly out of there, but that it ultimately isn't their decision. I've also been told by American Airlines'head of security in Texas that I am welcome to fly on their airline any time, and that they will contact Priceline.com about both of them giving my money back. This is all good, excepting that the military can arbitrarily, at any time, revoke my right to travel for no good reason, as they did November 1 in Bangor, Maine.

So long as the military are in charge of civilian affairs, we are not free; we do not have our Bill of Rights protecting us because they've abrogated it and declared themselves the Law.

We are forming a national Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and invite all of you and/or groups you're affiliated with to help us form such a coalition based on defense of our civil liberties. Please email back saying you'll be part of this new coalition of groups and individuals, and include your name and phone number. Then we can call a meeting to decide what to do. We need a large, strong, united voice to tell the military government we now have (Bush, Sr., who used to be not only President but before that head of the CIA, Dick Cheney, Daddy Bush's fellow oil man and defense contractor, and the Pentagon brass) that we will not accept killing democracy in order to save it.

We do not want corporations, with their only interest in next quarter's profits, running the world. We, the people, should be making the decisions that affect our lives. Real Democracy. Nothing less will do.


Original Story:

Green Party USA Coordinator Detained At Airport


Green Party USA Coordinator Detained at Airport; Prevented by Armed Military Personnel from Flying to Political Meeting in Chicago

Armed government agents grabbed Nancy Oden, Green Party USA coordinating committee member, Thursday at Bangor International Airport in Bangor Maine, as she attempted to board an American Airlines flight to Chicago.

"An official told me that my name had been flagged in the computer," a shaken Oden said. "I was targeted because the Green Party USA opposes the bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan."

Oden, a long-time organic farmer and peace activist in northern Maine, was ordered away from the plane. Military personnel with automatic weapons surrounded Oden and instructed all airlines to deny her passage on any flight.

"I was told that the airport was closed to me until further notice and that my ticket would not be refunded," Oden said.

Oden is scheduled to speak in Chicago Friday night on a panel concerning pesticides as weapons of war. She had helped to coordinate the Green Party USA's antiwar efforts these past few months, and was to report on these to The Greens national committee. "Not only did they stop me at the airport but some mysterious party had called the hotel and cancelled my reservation," Oden said.

The Greens National Committee -- the governing body of the Green Party USA -- is meeting in Chicago Nov. 2-4 to hammer out the details of national campaigns against bio-chemical warfare, the spraying of toxic pesticides, genetic engineering, and the Party's involvement in the burgeoning peace movement.

"I am shocked that US military prevented one of our prominent Green Party members from attending the meeting in Chicago," said Elizabeth Fattah, a GPUSA representative from Pennsylvania who drove to Chicago. "I am outraged at the way the Bill of Rights is beingtrampled upon."

Chicago Green activist Lionel Trepanier concluded, "The attack on the right of association of an opposition political party is chilling. The harassment of peace activists is reprehensible."



From MLC



Dear Jeff,

I am a Maine Green who received regular emails from the Green mailing list. Recently you posted an article titled "Green Party USA Coordinator Detained At Airport." Apparently there was more to that story than was first reported. I will forward to you all the relevant emails that I have received on the Maine Green email list. Here is the first update:

From Nancy Allen


Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2001 15:22:30 -0500

From long time Green Walt Sheasby..


In an official press release from its Chicago headquarters, the Greens/Green Party USA, a small splinter group that opposes recognition of the Green Party of the United States as the electoral voice of the movement that ran Ralph Nader for President in 2000, declared that one of its leaders was stopped from boarding a flight after a check turned up her name was on a computer list because the organization opposes the U.S. bombing of Afhanistan. The release said:

* Armed government agents grabbed Nancy Oden, Green Party USA coordinating committee member, Thursday at Bangor International Airport in Bangor Maine, as she attempted to board an American Airlines flight to Chicago.

"An official told me that my name had been flagged in the computer," a shaken Oden said. "I was targeted because the Green Party USA opposes the bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan."*

The press release was relayed around the nation as a first signal of the reach of the new draconian Patriot Act. But it turns out that Nancy Oden was apparently not barred because of a computer check, but because she did not comply with standard screening for weapons. While who said what is not clear, it appears that her name was not flagged by a computer search of potential terrorists or their supporters, according to a news report in the Bangor Daily News on Nov. 3.

While the undue harassment of airline travelers is to be condemned, it does not seem that this incident warrants fears of a major violation of Constitutional guarantees of free speech, as it first appeared. The group that Nancy Oden leads is nevertheless using the incident to draw attention and support to itself.

One member of the group's National Council urged:

*The first thing to do is to organize a committee, include spokesperson/ spokespersons. Contact civil liberties organizations including the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU ... Ask organizaitons to sponsor defense committee- Seek prominent attorney who may need to have a license to practice in Maine- Send releases out every day. Has Ralph Nader been contacted? What about Phil Donahue CONTACT TALK SHOWS. TRY TO GET POLITICIANS TO SUPPORT, Barbara Lee. Organizations in Maine who know Nancy and will back her up.*

If the incident had taken place as Nancy Oden described it, it would mean that other Green activists and leaders of other anti-war groups would also be on computer lists and barred from flying, which reportedly has not been the case. The exaggeration of her victimization may only serve to discredit opposition to the Bush Administration's attack on civil liberties.

It may also further isolate the Green Party USA, which saw a majority of delegates at its July 20 National Convention leave to form a new Green Alliance, which has its first convention in New Orleans January 18-21.


From: "Nancy Allen"

To: nallen@acadia.net Subject: from indymedia....gulp

Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2001 15:45:58 -0500

This is from indymedia.org...now she's "one of the U.S. Green Party's top officials" ARGHHH!!!!!! ...nancy

Military Bars Green Party Leader from Flying (english)

by Anonymous


Sat Nov 3 '01

"There was this National Guard guy there. He yells over at me, so everyone can hear, 'Bring your bags over here.' You know how they are when they're all puffed up with themselves. He said, 'Hurry up,' so I slowed down some more.



Military Bars Green Party Leader from Flying

posted by declan on

Saturday November 03, @12:36PM

From the airports-are-now-a-no-speech-zone dept. As one of the U.S. Green Party's top officials, Nancy Oden is used to controversy. But Oden never expected to be hassled by National Guard troops at her hometown airport of Bangor, Maine on Thursday and barred from flying out of it. She thinks it's because of a Green Party statement she co-authored that ran in the local newspaper. The statement calls for universal health care, limitations on free trade, and a stop to "U.S. military incursions" including the bombing of Afghanistan. (The Green Party has labeled the U.S. military action an act of "state terrorism.") Oden's unsuccessful attempt to fly to Chicago for a Green Party national meeting follows a Philadelphia man's unpleasant experience after reading the wrong book at an airport, a California journalist's headaches for daring to take photos inside an airport, and the arrest of another man in Germany for bringing politically-unacceptable reading material to an airport.


From Nancy Allen

Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2001 16:29:51 -0500

Hi Greens,

i don't believe that Nancy Oden was on any FBI list and was being targeted because she's a Green. Dean says he flies every week and he's never had any trouble. Others of us in national leadership would have had trouble too.

Anyone who knows Nancy, and believe me i know her well (she was my boss) and know what an uncooperative person she can be, would realize that Nancy most likely got a routine check, made a big fuss about it and got kicked out of the airport. Now, GPUSA is making a big deal about the incident and is going to milk the media for all they can get.

Peace, Starlene Rankin Chicago, IL Illinois GP Media Coordiantor member of the USGP Media Team


From: "Nancy Allen" nallen@acadia.net

Subject: oden

Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2001 16:46:57 -0500

The AP did not identify her as a member of the national coordinating committee, but simply as a political activist....so that was corrected in this version.....nancy

Activist, Screeners Tussle at Airport

Sunday, November 4, 2001

Associated Press

©Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

BANGOR - Political activist Nancy Oden missed her flight to Chicago for a Green Party USA meeting because she reportedly became uncooperative during security screening at the Bangor International Airport.

The Jonesboro woman says she was singled out for extra scrutiny because of her activist past and public opposition to the current war effort.

''I was treated (as) if I were guilty just because I'm a dissident and I speak out,'' she said. ''They're looking at me like I'm a terrorist and I'm just a peaceful person trying to go to a meeting in Chicago.''

Oden Scrapped Her Travel Plans

Officials at the airport and American Eagle Airlines have a different account of Oden's afternoon run-in with the added security.

''She was uncooperative during the screening process,'' American Eagle spokesman Kurt Iverson said. ''Obviously if they can't submit to screening, (federal) regulations require that they not be allowed to board the plane.''

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, security has been tightened at airports. In Bangor, armed National Guardsmen monitor the screening area and passenger lists are checked against an FBI terrorist watch list.

At one point during Oden's security screening, a National Guardsman grabbed her by the arm and she jerked it away.

While acknowledging that Oden was singled out for added extensive screening, authorities said it was more likely related to the manner in which she purchased her ticket than for her activist past.

Without providing details, interim airport director Rebecca Hupp said that the FAA guidelines ''have more to do with the ticket than the person.'' Oden bought her nonrefundable ticket online, she said.

Further Reading:

F.·.W.·. Magazine || 9/11: The Archive - The 'Lighter' Side of the New World Order?