Government Dragging Feet on No Fly List

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

The U.S. government’s no fly list. The list was originally intended to stop certain people from boarding airplanes lest they might hijack, sabotage or destroy a commercial aircraft. However, the main problems with the list are that the government’s criteria are arbitrary, secretive (meaning no transparency on who is put on the list and who is not), and there are no procedures of getting people off the list once they are put on it. These have been major problems with the no fly list ever since it was developed, and remains true. Because of this, those who have ended up on the list had turned to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for help in getting the U.S. government to take them off the list. All of those on the list are U.S. citizens with no record of ever having committed any crimes, let alone terrorist acts. Despite being U.S. citizens with no criminal records, they have been unable to get off the no fly list, and they remain on it years later.

In a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, a federal judge in the case Latif vs. Holder, has ruled that the U.S. government has violated the Fifth Amendment rights of the U.S. Constitution for why 13 U.S. citizens (four of whom are veterans) are on the no fly list. The federal judge ruled that the government must by January of 2015 explain why these people are on the no fly list, and institute a procedure ordered by the court to clear their names. The federal government does not seem to be complying with the court order. The government has stated that it will change the procedures and that it will make the whole procedure more transparent. This is totally unacceptable to the ACLU. The ACLU argues correctly that the government arbitrarily determined who should be on the list, and that it is now stating that it and it alone should handle any changes. This is in violation of the court order against it, and the federal government is in fact trying to cut the judiciary out of the whole process.

The government is citing “national security” for why it does not want to change the no fly list. This must not be allowed to stand. The government MUST comply with the court order and the court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The government should not have the power to violate the rights of those accused of being terrorists, and should not be allowed to violate the rights of those 13 Americans accused of being terrorists. Under the court order, the government must disclose why these people are on the no fly list, what evidence there is against them, and if no proof is available on why these people are on the no fly list then how they can be taken off. This is not some academic exercise in what is constitutional and what is not—it is necessary that the government come clean with why it can put people on the no fly list. If this is not changed, who is to say that either you or I may not arbitrarily end up on the no fly list?

Comments are closed.