AirTalk for March 20, 2014

Federal judge questions need for government secrecy shrouding 'no-fly' list

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A Southwest airplane is seen taking off from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on September 27, 2010.

The constitutionality of the U.S. government's anti-terrorism "no fly" list was questioned by a federal judge during a hearing at the U.S. District Court in Oregon Monday.

The government's position on the matter has been that the secrecy is necessary for the efficacy of the program. But Judge Anna J. Brown voiced skepticism in this argument: "The secrecy is diminished once the person is turned away. Arguing the process is necessary to protect that secrecy has no basis. What am I missing?" said Brown.

The suit, Latif v. Holder, was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 13 plaintiffs, four of which are U.S. military veterans. They claim they were barred from travel by the no fly list and denied an explanation as to why they were considered security risks.

In addition, they argue that their 5th Amendment rights to due process were violated by the program. They argue that their inclusion on the list has severely altered their lives, preventing them from traveling to see family or to further their careers.

Is national security enough of an argument to keep the list secret? What options are in place for those who find themselves on the list erroneously?


Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project and an attorney on the Latif v. Holder case

Geoffrey Corn, Professor of Law and Presidential Research Professor at South Texas College of Law

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