Patriot Act Treats Unruly Passengers as Terrorists
In-flight ruckus can draw felony conviction
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2009 5:57 PM CST
In this 2008 file photo, a Delta plane taxis for takeoff past a Northwest plane at Portland International Airport.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – What sounds like a fair punishment for spanking your children on a plane and having an argument with a flight attendant? How about a felony conviction, 3 months in prison, and the loss of custody of your children? As unreal as it sounds, that’s exactly what happened to one of 200 Americans convicted of an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act for unruly flight behavior, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Patriot Act gives airline personnel the ability to forestall of a terrorist attack by defining any attempt to interfere with flight crew as a felony. But flight crews are given wide latitude in defining “interference”—and a surprising number of the passengers convicted of terrorism are guilty only of being unruly, obnoxious, or drunk.