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Government Secrecy Spurs $4 Million Lawsuit Over Simple 'No Fly' List Error 239

An anonymous reader writes "After a seven-year lawsuit costing nearly $4 million, a judge has concluded that Rahinah Ibrahim's student visa was revoked because an FBI agent checked the wrong box on a form. That simple human error resulted in the detention of Rahinah Ibrahim, the revocation of her student visa years later and interruption of her PhD studies. The Bush and later Obama administrations obstructed the lawsuit repeatedly, invoking classified evidence, sensitive national security information and the state secrets privilege to prevent disclosure of how suspects are placed on the 'no-fly' list. The dispute eventually involved statements of support from James Clapper, Eric Holder and several other DOJ and TSA officials in favor of the government's case. The defendant was not allowed to enter the United States even to attend her own lawsuit trial and in a separate incident, her daughter, a U.S. citizen, was denied entry to witness the trial as well. The case exemplifies how government secrecy can unintentionally transform otherwise easily corrected errors into a multi-year legal and bureaucratic nightmare and waste millions of taxpayer dollars in doing so."
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Government Secrecy Spurs $4 Million Lawsuit Over Simple 'No Fly' List Error

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  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:08PM (#46231667) Homepage

    Fine? Excuse me but we are talking about blatent denials of civil rights. We are talking about a criminal conspiracy to cover up wrongdoing and deny her basic civil right to have her grievance heard.

    Fines do not cover this sort of criminal action, each and every one of them should spend the rest of their lives with a felony conviction, and every one of them should do time for it.

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:43PM (#46232041)

    Just imagine how many people are on the "let's kill them with drones" list by mistake.

    That includes the "let's kill the American citizen" list.

    "Never attribute to malice what you can attribute to incompetence."
    - someone or another.

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:47PM (#46232081)

    I have light skin and a very anglo-sounding name. One day I go to check in for my flight and discover that I can't print my boarding pass. So I go to the ticket counter and after some hushed tone conversations they give me my boarding pass. This happens three weeks in a row and finally I ask someone why I can't print the darn pass at home. It was then I discovered that I'm on the no-fly list.

    Eventually I was able to get something called a "Redress number" and was then able to board planes like everyone else.

    But what pissed me off was that a) I was never told that I was on the no-fly list b) Nobody was able to tell me why I ended up on it in the first place c) I had to clear my name to get off the list.

    In effect I was tried and convicted without even knowing that I was charged with anything. The late Senator Ted Kennedy was famously put on this list as well. Yet another example of blatant government stupidity and waste.

  • by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:59PM (#46232217) Homepage
    Also worrying: If you were on the no fly list, why did they print you a boarding pass? Just because you didn't look like a terrorist?
  • Re:Um... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:15PM (#46232381)

    Why not pernicious ass covering.

    They didn't like her, so they just snuck her onto the no-fly list, and now that the shit has hit the fan they are going with a slip of the pencil.

    That's their story and they are stuck with it.

    And it may prove the undoing of the No Fly List. After all, this proves once again how ridiculously stupid the whole concept is, especially when there is no way to challenge it.

    Just change it to a extra-special-search list, and let people fly but check them carefully. After all if they have no weapons in their shoes or underwear, and there are not more than 2 of them on any given flight, what's the problem? There are hundreds of people on the list for no reason what so ever.

  • Re:Um... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:34PM (#46232547)
  • Re:Um... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:50PM (#46232711)

    Who said it was unintentional?

    Why not pernicious ass covering.

    They didn't like her, so they just snuck her onto the no-fly list, and now that the shit has hit the fan they are going with a slip of the pencil.

    Well, the whole point of the thing was that she wasn't deliberately being targeted. There was no reason she got targeted, no hint that anybody didn't like her.

    If you've ever worked in a bureaucracy, yeah, sometimes there's a screw up. Filling out forms is tedious. Screw-ups happen. The thing is, if you're Homeland Security, you can slap a "it's all top secret" onto your screw-ups instead of admitting it and saying "sorry."

  • by Lothsahn ( 221388 ) <Lothsahn@@@SPAM_ ... u_bastardsyahocm> on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:04PM (#46233921)
    Because the "redress list" is for people who have a name which matches a suspected or known terrorist on the "no fly" list. In other words, (s)he wasn't on the "no fly" list, but (s)he was unfortunate enough to have the same name as someone who is. Since the "no fly" list is keyed by names and not an actual unique identifier, you can be "on" the list even though you're not.

    This is much different than Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim, who was actually on the no fly list. While other Rahinah Ibrahim's would have been able to (and possibly would need to) get a redress number, she would be unable to obtain one. []

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