Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government The Courts Transportation United States

US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes: On August 6, U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered the federal government to "explain why the government places U.S. citizens who haven't been convicted of any violent crimes on its no-fly database." Unsurprisingly, the federal government objected to the order, once more claiming that to divulge their no-fly list criteria would expose state secrets and thus pose a national security threat. When the judge said he would read the material privately, the government insisted that reading the material "would not assist the Court in deciding the pending Motion to Dismiss (PDF) because it is not an appropriate means to test the scope of the assertion of the State Secrets privilege." The federal government has until September 7 to comply with the judge's order unless the judge is swayed by the government's objection.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

Comments Filter:
  • Wait what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lq_x_pl (822011) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:48AM (#47783901)
    "... that reading the material "would not assist the Court in deciding the pending Motion to Dismiss (PDF) because it is not an appropriate means to test the scope of the assertion of the State Secrets privilege.""
    Actually, that is precisely what letting the judge read the criteria would do.
    I suspect that the real problem is that the criteria used for being added to the No-Fly list are overbroad and arbitrary. The secret here is that the No-Fly list is a farce.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:57AM (#47783965) Homepage
    I remember there was this case where a woman in the US on an education visa was put on the list, allowed to fly out of the US, then not allowed to fly back in next september. She had not finished her studies.

    She sued, and called her mother as a witness. Her mother was then put on the list and not allowed back in. The US denied doing this, but the airline said that was why she was not allowed to board.

    Eventually they discovered that the original reason the daughter was put on the no fly list was that someone interviewing her had checked the wrong box on a form.

    She won her law suit, and the US had to remove her from the list. This was after years of having her education interrupted.

    Basically, the no fly list is a poorly managed piece of crap that they are ashamed to admit they usually have no idea why anyone is on the list.

  • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:58AM (#47783969)

    For the safety of the country there are certain things that need to remain secret. Some complain our government doesn't do enough to protect us. Others see the boogeyman behind everything the government does. Criteria for no-fly list? I imagine there is an element of secrecy there and it would largely depend on intelligence generated through a number of sources. Are there mistakes made? Of course. Unfortunately the process is administered by human beings who are flawed vessels at best.

    In a republic, the people must be able to hold their representatives accountable and ensure they are working in the country's best interests and obeying the law. Secret policies like the one governing the members of the no-fly list work against people wanting to know what their government is doing and why. It is not a matter of whether we are protected or not. It is a matter of transparency in a government by, of and for the people. That's not to say that the policy governing the no-fly list should be published in the New York Times. But if the government can hide behind the state secrets privilege to bar people from finding out why they are on the list and how they might get off it, they are denying those people their right to redress of grievances.

    It is true that some things must be kept secret. But part of the issue here is that in order to be trusted with secrets, you must be that; trusted. Members of the intelligence and national security apparatus have been found lying to Congress, the judiciary and the public on numerous occasions. When they say we must simply trust them that they are doing the right thing, any thinking person should be skeptical. They have blown their credibility and have lost the trust of the people they are supposed to be protecting. That's not a good thing.

    It should be noted that in the seminal case that established the state secrets privilege, United States v. Reynolds, the government used the national security argument to hide negligence. In the very first case that they used that argument, they used it to cover something up (lax maintenance that led to the downing of an aircraft). So it has been a dubious privilege from the start. Given their track record since, there is no reason to trust that the government is being honest in their invoking the privilege now. They may indeed be on the up-and-up. But that needs to be independently verified, and that should be the job of the court.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:25AM (#47784247)

    yes. sort of.

    first, there is the right to freely travel inside your country.

    second, there is the implied right to earn an income. today, its getting to the point where travel via air is required by many jobs.

    third, there is nothing in the C to allow denying you the right to travel.

    this has never been about C stuff; but that does not stop the 'culture of fear' politicians who have found a new friend in keeping people under their control.

  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:4, Informative)

    by butchersong (1222796) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:45AM (#47784429)
    Well one metric might be number of press conferences. This is just in all presidents first term. I believe the impression is that he's having even fewer second term but I don't see anything breaking that down. I'm sure there are a lot of other inputs that could be included as well to test this. Subjectively.. he does seem less open and conversational in these as well compared to past presidents.

    President Obama - 79

    President George W. Bush - 89

    President Bill Clinton - 133

    President George H. W. Bush - 143

    President Reagan - 27

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu... [ucsb.edu]

  • by twdorris (29395) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:52AM (#47784469)

    It should be noted that in the seminal case that established the state secrets privilege, United States v. Reynolds, the government used the national security argument to hide negligence.

    That original claim to privilege was retested in the early 2000s once those "secret" documents had been declassified and *still* the court found that the government had *not* abused its state secrets privilege. It may be your opinion that the government tried to hide negligence, but that's not the accepted opinion and not the one reached by many trained scholars (judges, lawyers) actually practicing in the field on a daily basis. So perhaps you should remove the tin foil hat covering your eyes every once in a while and consider that there may be more to some things than you might first think.

    Now, that said, I'm no big government promoter. Far from it. You can read some of my prior comments for examples. What I don't want are for people to discredit the entire concept of major government reform by making such broad statements without addressing the (potentially legitimate) counter arguments. Taken in context, those original claims to state secret privileges seem relevant to me in this particular case.

  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:11PM (#47786001)

    They might with luck, but they're not required to give you a refund, because legally being on the no-fly list falls into the same category as showing up at the cruise terminal in Fort Lauderdale without valid visas for all the places you're going. When that happens, the cruise line just turns you away and keeps your money with a big old Screw You.

    Then there are the other non-refundable arrangements you made at the destination. Good luck using the no-fly list as an excuse for your resort stay and river cruise.

  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @03:08PM (#47786799)

    Not in his first term, they weren't.

    And the issue was never whether or not he slept with her -- nobody thought he did -- it was whether or not he had sex with her.

    And the impeachment was about whether or not he lied under oath about it.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.

Working...