“No Fly Book List Book List,” by John Frank Weaver

May 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Internal TSA Memo

To All TSA Agents:

In the wake of recent airport security lapses, the TSA has devoted considerable time and energy to alternative screening techniques.  Although the Administration’s initial planning focused on overt measures at the traditional security checkpoint – e.g., underwear checks, random full body cavity searches, etc. – further investigation has led Administration officials to believe that such efforts would not yield the desired results.  Rather, our 18-month survey of airline passengers revealed that such added security would “enrage,” “annoy,” or “boil the blood of” 93.4% of the American public.

However, a careful review of our efforts to prevent terrorist attacks on airlines, both successful and unsuccessful, has revealed a metric of potential danger: books.  By monitoring the books that passengers purchase and/or read in the airport prior to boarding the plane, we believe we can identify potential attackers before they are in a position to do harm.  Beginning in summer 2010, all agents will receive training in what we are calling the No Fly Book List, which will categorize the danger signals sent by certain books and authors.  Although the training will be more comprehensive, the following list of warning signs associated with books and authors is provided for your general information of the new program:

1,000 Places to See Before You Die Series:  Threat level high.  Prior to an attack, most terrorists ruminate on what they might have done with the rest of their lives.  These books came up a lot in our focus groups.  Retain all individuals in possession of it for questioning.

– John Grisham and Robert Ludlum (in combination): Threat level high.  Nearly 60% of the people traveling on planes in America are reading a book by either Grisham or Ludlum.  However, an individual purchasing, reading, or carrying books by both authors is trying too hard to look normal and should be retained for questioning.

The Andromeda Strain:  Threat level high.  While most Crichton titles – e.g., Jurassic Park, Congo, etc. – are harmless, retain for questioning any individuals carrying The Andromeda Strain.  This novel is a potential guidebook to extraterrestrial biological terrorism.

– David Sedaris:  Threat level varies.  Anyone between the ages of 30 and 40 reading a Sedaris book is clean.  Anyone outside of that age range reading a Sedaris book should be retained for questioning because they exhibit a dangerously terrible judgment of character.

Parliament of Whores:  Threat level medium.  Although PJ O’Rourke is not an automatic harbinger of doom in America, an individual with a poor sense of irony is potentially dangerous with this title.  Maintain close scrutiny.

– Josh Billings: Threat level medium. Retain for questioning anyone in possession of a Josh Billings book. Without an interview, it is impossible to know the difference between a would-be attacker (who is unable to discern the obscure Billings from the famous Mark Twain as part of an appropriate disguise) and a pretentious American Studies grad student. Approach with caution, as both can be volatile.

– Ayn Rand: Threat level medium.  The TSA’s official position on the power of the individual is consistent with federal policy toward individual achievement: Nothing good has ever come of it.  Therefore, we advise that agents retain for questioning anyone in possession of The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, or any other Rand book.  Remember the old maxim: Just because an individual can achieve nothing doesn’t mean an individual cannot ruin everything.

– Douglas Adams:  Mostly harmless.

Obviously, this list is not exclusive.  It should also be noted that there is a flexible category of political authors and books that the TSA can switch among threat levels depending on which party is in Washington.  Our intention is to update that list every other January, so be sure to advise your families accordingly when they travel.

Please also note that the TSA will soon develop a No Fly Children’s Book List.  We have to ensure that potential attackers are not sneaking onto our planes protected by the cloak of Good Night Moon. Another memo concerning this new program will be forthcoming.


Office of the TSA Administrator


John Frank Weaver lives in New Hampshire, where the men wear ironic t-shirts and the women roll their eyes. You can follow his plans to introduce his unborn child to culture at Content Based Dad. His right hand writes about life as a sock puppet on Twitter.

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