Chicago dad who opposed pornographic books in schools finds himself on flight watchlist amid airport nightmare

A Chicago father discovered the hard way that he could no longer board a plane without having to endure substantially increased screening after he joined several parents during the summer of 2021 to speak out against sexually explicit and pornographic books found in his children’s library in Downer Grove’s school district.

Terry Newsome, a self-described “raised Democrat,” and his family were trying to board a flight on Dec. 16, 2022, to Pheonix, Ariz., to attend Turning Point USA’s “America Fest” convention, The Epoch Times reports.

According to the longtime Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pre-check-approved flier, when they arrived at the airport, they discovered they “couldn’t check in electronically like we normally did.”

Newsome was initially told that the FBI had placed him on a watchlist, only to learn on his flight home that it was the Department of Justice (DOJ) who requested that he be slapped with the restrictive classification.

Later still, the concerned parent discovered he had been hit with a Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS) designation, also known as the “quad-S.”

If you think it’s a hassle for you to get through airport security, try doing it with four “S”s hanging over your ticket.

Travelers with a quad-S designation are typically pulled out of the line and taken to a separate area where they are instructed to empty their bags so each item can be examined. They can expect a full-body patdown and will have their hands and, at times, their feet swabbed to ensure they haven’t been handling explosives.

The unexpected process took so long, Newsome and his family missed their flight. Before they were allowed to board an alternate flight, The Epoch Times states, the airline had to get the FBI’s approval before allowing them to board.

“Somebody put you on a list with some real bad people,” an airport employee told Newsome.

Upon his return from Arizona, the bewildered dad fired off a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the FBI to learn why the DOJ deems him to be a terror risk.

Remarkably, the agency refused to comment.

“The U.S. Government can neither confirm nor deny whether a particular person is on any terrorist watch list,” the FBI replied, in part. “Maintaining the confidentiality of government watch lists is necessary to achieve the objectives of the U.S. Government, as well as to protect the privacy of individuals who may be on a watch list for a limited time and later removed. If the U.S. Government revealed who was listed on any government watch list, terrorists would be able to take actions to avoid detection by government authorities. Thus, the FBI neither confirms nor denies the existence of your subject’s name on any watch lists pursuant to FOIA exemption.”

Newsome believes his name landed on that list because of his political past, which included speaking out against Critical Race Theory and sexually explicit books such as Mia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” but the FBI press office told Epoch Times the agency doesn’t open investigations based on activity that is protected by the First Amendment.

“The FBI can never open an investigation based solely on protected First Amendment activity,” the agency wrote in response to the outlet’s inquiry. “We cannot and do not investigate ideology. We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security.”

It’s a tough line to swallow, considering that, in 2021, “Attorney General Merrick Garland called on the FBI to ‘use its authority’ against parents who threaten or use violence against public school officials in a Monday memorandum,” BizPac Review reported at the time.

When Newsome reached out to TSA requesting that he be placed back on the pre-check list, the administration told him he was no longer eligible for the perk, but suggested he would no longer be subjected to additional screening methods.

“As a result of recurrent checks and based on a comprehensive background check, TSA was unable to determine that you pose a sufficiently low risk to transportation and national security to continue to be eligible for expedited airport security screening through the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program,” TSA wrote in its reply. “As a result, TSA has determined that you are no longer eligible to participate in the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program.”

“This eligibility determination for the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program is within the sole discretion of TSA,” the letter continued. “Although you have been found ineligible to continue your participation in the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program, you will continue to be screened at airport security checkpoints according to TSA standard screening protocols.”

According to Epoch Times, “Newsome remains uncertain about his flight status.”

While the FBI said they don’t “investigate ideology,” there is another reason that could explain Newsome’s troubles with the DOJ: He was at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021.

Newsome attended the infamous event unarmed with his friend, a retired police officer, and left before things went sideways — a fact he can prove with time-stamped photos. He never trespassed on Capitol grounds, and, by the time protestors were entering the building, he was gone.

Regardless of his Constitutionally-protected activities, Newsome’s story speaks to concerns over the weaponization of the DOJ against American citizens who hold opposing views to those of the Biden administration.

As BizPac Review reported, after regaining control of the House of Representatives, GOP lawmakers quickly formed a Church-style committee, officially known as the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” to investigate allegations of abuse by U.S. intelligence agencies that gather information on American citizens.

In December, Elon Musk released on his social media platform an installment of the “Twitter Files” written by journalist Matt Taibbi, who claimed, “The FBI and CIA are directly meddling in all the tech companies to control the speech of regular Americans.”

Taibbi called the scope of the involvement of the intelligence agencies in censoring stories and accounts that contradicted the Biden administration’s official narratives, “insane.”

“The files show the FBI acting as doorman to a vast program of social media surveillance and censorship, encompassing agencies across the federal government — from the State Department to the Pentagon to the CIA,” he wrote. “It was dizzying.”


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Melissa Fine


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