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Muslim Americans Challenge US 'No Fly' List

FBI 'secret list' case faces federal appeals court today

- Common Dreams staff

The American Civil Liberties Union representing 15 U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are banned from flying to or from the US will appear in federal appeals court today, in a bid to erase the names from the list.

Those on the FBI 'no fly' list have never been told why they are on the list, nor have they been given an opportunity to get off the list.

Last May, the district court in Portland, Ore. dismissed the case for 'lack of jurisdiction', which ACLU claims is ungrounded.

“It is unconstitutional for the government to put people on secret lists and deny them the right to travel without even basic due process,” said Nusrat Choudhury, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “Without a meaningful way for people to challenge their inclusion on the list, there's no way to keep innocent people off it. We filed our case against the right agency, and the government’s effort to delay a hearing on the constitutionality of this unfair system is wrong.”

“I have no idea why I’m on the list,” said Plaintiff Abe Mashal. “I should have the chance to clear my name and live my life normally. This has been a real hardship for me both personally and financially.”

Currently, the FBI 'no fly' list bars thousands of people from commercial air travel with no meaningful chance to clear their names, according to ACLU.

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ACLU: ACLU in Appeals Court Today for No Fly List Challenge

The American Civil Liberties Union will argue in a federal appeals court today that its challenge to the government’s secretive No Fly List should be reinstated. The ACLU represents 15 U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including four military veterans, who are banned from flying to or from the U.S. or over American airspace, causing great personal hardship. They have never been told why they are on the list or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it.

The national ACLU, along with its affiliates in Oregon, Southern California, Northern California and New Mexico, filed the lawsuit against the FBI, which creates and controls the list. Last May, the district court in Portland dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that the lawsuit should have been filed against the Transportation Security Administration, which administers the redress process for travelers denied boarding. [...]

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ACLU: Latif, et al. v. Holder, et al. - ACLU Challenges Government No Fly List

In August 2010, the ACLU petitioned the court for preliminary relief so that the plaintiffs stranded abroad because they were on the list could fly home to the U.S. Instead of opposing the request, the government let each of them fly home. Yet, the government still refused to tell them why they hadn’t been able to fly back in the first place or whether they would be able to fly in the future. In February 2011, the complaint was amended at the request of the court.

The lawsuit was filed against officials at the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Terrorist Screening Center, which creates and controls the No Fly List. In May 2011, the district court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that the lawsuit should have been filed against the Transportation Security Administration, which administers the redress process for travelers denied boarding. The ACLU appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting in Portland, hears the case May 11, 2012.

Today, the government's No Fly List consists of thousands of people who have been barred altogether from commercial air travel with no meaningful chance to clear their names, resulting in a vast and growing group of individuals whom the government deems too dangerous to fly but too harmless to arrest. It is unconstitutional for the government to put people on secret lists and deny them the right to travel without even basic due process.

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