The No-Fly List Is Deeply Flawed
I think it is entirely fair to insist that new measures for public safety like gun regulation obey previously set laws. Like laws about how people may be profiled. Or how due process may or may not exist in certain aspects of anti terror investigations. The ACLU is a credible source as a champion of our civil protections.
For those that suddenly believe the no fly list is a legit screening process for access to protected activities, please take a closer look at what you are really suggesting. What I have found is that the more people understand how little due process or civil protection is involved, the more they want it fixed to comply.
Statement of Barry Steinhardt, Director, Technology and Liberty Program, ACLU
The problems that have emerged with the Transportation Security Agency’s “”no-fly”” list offer the American people a preview of some of the problems that will inevitably bedevil the new “”Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System”” program (CAPPS II) currently under construction by the TSA.
Inaccurate information. Because of the no-fly list, for example, innocent, law-abiding Americans have found themselves subject to relentless hassles, interrogation and searches every time they try to travel by air. They may share similar names with those who have been placed on suspect lists, or be the victims of random error, malicious discrimination, or mysterious bureaucratic quirks.
Lack of due process. The lack of recourse for those who find themselves singled out by the no-fly list makes for a truly Kafkaesque situation. Innocent victims are unable to face their accusers - the source of the information that has made them a target - unable to see that information, or the criteria by which it was judged, and have no meaningful way to appeal their status.
Jan Adams and Rebecca Gordon of California, for example, were detained by police at San Francisco International Airport, and told that their names appeared on the secret “”no-fly”” list. The two women - peace activists who publish a newspaper called War Times - were told nothing about why they were on such a list, or how they could get off. The ACLU has filed suit on their behalf to find out how the “no fly” lists were created, how they are being maintained or corrected and, most importantly, how people who are mistakenly included on the list can have their names taken off. Indeed, we fear that those two peaceful women may have wound up on the no fly list for exercising their quintessentially American right to disagree with the government.
But lets not stop there.
The U.S. government maintains a massive watchlist system that risks stigmatizing hundreds of thousands of people—including U.S. citizens—as terrorism suspects based on vague, overbroad, and often secret standards and evidence.
The consequences of being placed on a government watchlist can be far-reaching. They can include questioning, harassment, or detention by authorities, or even an indefinite ban on air travel. And while the government keeps the evidence it uses to blacklist people in this manner secret, government watchdogs have found that as many as 35 percent of the nominations to the network of watchlists are outdated and tens of thousands of names were placed on lists without an adequate factual basis. To make matters worse, the government denies watchlisted individuals any meaningful way to correct errors and clear their names.
The ACLU is seeking reform of this broken watchlisting system in a variety of ways. We filed a landmark challenge to the No Fly List in which a federal judge struck down the government’s redress process, ruling that it “falls far short of satisfying the requirements of due process” and is “wholly ineffective.” The ACLU continues to advocate for broad reform of the watchlisting system, consistent with the court’s ruling and the Constitution.
A bloated, opaque watchlisting system is neither fair nor effective. A system in which innocent people languish on blacklists indefinitely, with their rights curtailed and their names sullied, is at odds with our Constitution and values. aclu.org
A Congressional report for further background