no-fly list

Federal judge rules government no-fly list is unconstitutional

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(NaturalNews) One by one, many of the provisions of the USA Patriot Act and other legislation written in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks more a dozen years ago are being deemed anathema to the U.S. Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights.

One of the latest provisions to be ruled unconstitutional is the federal government's "no-fly" list, which bans anyone who has only been accused of having links to terrorism from taking commercial flights.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, acting on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who had been placed on the no-fly list, ordered Uncle Sam to devise new ways in which Americans who have been placed on the list could challenge the designation. Currently, there is no way to challenge the government's claims.

"The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," Brown wrote in her 65-page ruling.

"Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel," Brown wrote.

No due process rights

The ruling is being considered a major victory, and vindication, for the 13 plaintiffs, four of whom are veterans of the U.S. military. They all deny having any links at all to terrorism and say they only learned of their no-fly status when they tried to board a flight at an airport.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought suit against the policy in 2010; the group argued that the secrecy surrounding the list and the inability of those listed to challenge their status is a violation of their clients' rights to due process under the law.

"For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair no-fly list procedures and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court," Hina Shamsi, the ACLU's national security project director, said in a written statement.

"This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the no-fly list with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardships," said Shamsi.

Justice Department lawyers argued that there are sufficient means of contesting any flight bans and that those who are listed under the policy are ultimately given the right to petition a U.S. appeals court directly for any relief (which, by the way, can be cost-prohibitive for most people).

Following Brown's ruling, Reuters reported that Justice Department attorneys declined to comment, except to say they needed additional time to read and study the ruling.

'No meaningful way to get off the list'

As Reuters reported further:

The no-fly list, established in 2003 in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, bars those on it from flying within the United States or to and from the country. As of last year, it included some 20,000 people deemed by the FBI as having, or reasonably suspected of having, ties to terrorism, an agency spokesman said at the time. About 500 of them were U.S. citizens.

According to an ACLU "Factsheet":

Currently, there is no meaningful process for a person to get off the No Fly List. An individual denied boarding on a plane due to apparent inclusion in the No Fly List must submit a standard form to the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program ("DHS TRIP"). DHS TRIP transmits complaints to the TSC, which determines whether any action should be taken.

Once the review is complete by the TSC, DHS TRIP sends a letter that is intended to explain how the complaint was resolved, but the letter does not confirm or deny whether the individual is still included on the no-fly list or whether they can fly in the future.

"The government also refuses to provide any reason for inclusion on the No Fly List or a hearing at which an individual can clear his or her name," the ACLU said.


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