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Government The Courts Transportation United States

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

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

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

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:32AM (#47783779) Homepage Journal

    If somehow we could avoid letting the worst ideas just kinda slide.

    There's not a lick of evidence that no-fly has helped anyone, but we need to insist its policies not face even the slightest judicial review. Asshole libertarians tend identify me as an authoritarian because I state the obvious vis a vis their fundamental beliefs, but this kind of deprivation without due process is still completely nuts.

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:38AM (#47783815)

    It's time to start disassembling this expensive fraud. Millions of travelers are inconvenienced by these fraudulent necessities that have been installed since the Patriot Act was passed. That Act will go down in American history as the single, most damaging, threat to liberty in this country. Billions spent, law abiding people treated like criminals without due process. It truly makes me ashamed and angry at DC and the retards that reside there.

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:41AM (#47783849) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, which is why the judge is asking to be allowed to review the material for constitutionality in private.

    If a US judge(reminder, appointed for life) wanted to hurt our nation, they'd have better tools at their disposal than leaking some bureaucratic legalese.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:48AM (#47783895) Homepage
    To divulge this information would let loose the fact that the list is populated arbitrarily in most cases, and in others using illegal domestic spying practices currently being swept under the rug by the administration and the NSA. More importantly it would further confirm the TSA and most of homeland security as nothing more than security theatre and lemon socialism for defense contractors. Further, it would serve also to undermine more than a decade of highly controversial foreign and domestic policy in the wake of the september 11th attacks.

    Another way to approach this retiscence from the government is in terms of employment and consumer confidence, as thats really all a capitalist government is focused on when it legislates. for those who insist it would help to dismantle the department of homeland security, its not that simple or even prudent to do. closing a 60 billion dollar a year facility would instantly land a quarter of a million americans unemployed as well as trigger staff cuts in military agencies and various contractors across the board. the long story short: as capitalism employs outsourcing and offshoring in its advancing race to the bottom, it becomes increasingly incapable of providing gainful employment for anyone and in turn government programs like this must be protected, even if they do very little else but harass the public and chase their tail. the big state secret is that the United States can hardly keep the government open, lags the world in education, and leads the world in incarceration
  • THIS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @09:49AM (#47783907)

    is one of the many reasons why I think there really is no discernible difference between Republicans and Democrats. Two sides of the same d2. I kinda fooled myself into thinking the Dems would be different after 8 years of W. But we just see more of the same. Same abuse of powers, same sense of entitlement and executive privilege, same (or expanded) levels of invasive surveillance, same police-state mentality.

    The federal government has become an insatiable monstrosity of bureaucratic machinery that would have defied even the imagination of Kafka, demanding accountability and transparency from all (achieving such ends at gunpoint or through a wiretap), while offering none itself.

    The great insight of the founding fathers was recognizing a need for checks and balances, and creating a theoretical system to prevent excesses of the executive (or the other branches). The problem with this nice idea is that in the real world powerful people tend to curry favor among themselves, where Supreme Court justices go on duck hunting trips with the Vice President and suchlike: the branches of government are just three sides of the same d3.

  • by fey000 ( 1374173 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:01AM (#47784013)

    1. Does the subject wear a turban? If yes, add to list. If no, continue.
    2. Can you pronounce the subject's name? If no, add to list, if yes, continue.
    3. Has subject slept with your significant other or ex? If yes, add to list, if no, continue.
    4. Flip a coin. If heads, add to list, if tails, continue.
    5. Do you want the subject on the list? If yes, add to list, if no, arrest subject for loitering and go to lunch.

  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:02AM (#47784023)

    Dear sir,

    You are quite wrong. There is a mountain of evidence that so called "no-fly" lists have prevent unspeakable acts of terrorism and violence.

    It is however important to note that to divulge the details of said evidence will expose state secret and thus constitute a threat to national security.

    To explain; in order to protect you, the national citizen we have to keep this secret from you as telling you how we do things can put you at risk. Given that you can now clearly see how you yourself put your own well-being at risk your personal freedoms should in fact be revoked for your protection.

    A secret court that we cannot tell you about already ruled in our favor. All your rights are belong to us.


    Your democratically elected and chosen government.
  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:07AM (#47784077) Homepage Journal

    Balogna. The dullards you're doubtlessly citing use the "increase in rejected FOIA requests" metric that handily sweeps under the rug the proportionally greater increase in answered FOIA requests, because honesty isn't part of the game plan.

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:08AM (#47784091) Homepage Journal

    I'm sad to report that my opinion on the matter(no) doesn't matter nearly as much as a federal judge's, as far as actionability is concerned.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:09AM (#47784097)

    You assume it actually works. There's no evidence it's actually stopped any terrorist attack. Further, even if it did, it's still on dubious legal grounds - the government is effectively harming people by restricting their ability to travel, and is doing so without any accountability. No independent judge, no trial, no legal representation, not even the most basic right to see the evidence against them. It's the type of unaccountable secret legal process you'd expect to see in North Korea - given a bit of a PR makeover and introduced to the US.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:18AM (#47784179) Journal
    Unfortunately, while not false (in the most obvious case, informants have a way of winding up dead if you are too obvious about their existence); your justification leaves two major issues unaddressed:

    1. The government is not refusing to divulge the specific reasons and evidence that led to a particular person being added to the list(which quite plausibly might reveal specific informants, bugged computers, etc. and would likely merit an in camera review or something). They are refusing to divulge the general criteria and possible methods by which anyone could end up on the list. It's the difference between "Tell me exactly who ratted out Big Vinnie" and "What constitutes 'Racketeering' for the purposes of the US criminal code". One is a potential operational risk. The other is 'rule of law'.

    2. The 'no fly list' is a bullshit twilight category without obvious protective value. Apparently there are people (and lots of them) so dangerous that they cannot be allowed on a passenger aircraft, even with some sort of enhanced screening; but so safe that apparently no other measures need be taken. It's a combination of state harassment(not being able to fly is a pretty big deal if you travel much) and absurd magical thinking. Too dangerous to fly; but safe enough to do basically anything else? Seriously? Why would that category even exist? Hijacking an airplane with a pointy object shouldn't work anymore(if we finished upgrading the doors), and anyone who can get bombs, firearms, or toxins doesn't need a plane to cause trouble.

    The refusal to even outline how you fall into such a category, or why such a category exists, is a profound mockery of the notion of rule of law. No, not every specific detail of how every piece of evidence is gathered can be safely revealed; but that isn't the story here.
  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:15AM (#47784629)

    But, but , but Mr. Obama is Mr. Transparency.

    He said so.

    One of the things President Obama has done for this country is to show us that whether the Republicans or Democrats are in office, we get a lot of the same policies. Not identical, but most of the foreign policy, national security, surveillance and domestic security policies are the same between the parties. Some choice!

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

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:19AM (#47784653) Journal

    There is a mountain of evidence that so called "no-fly" lists have prevent unspeakable acts of terrorism and violence.

    Bullshit. Show me even one case of a would-be attacker getting arrested because his name came up when he showed up at an airport.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:20AM (#47784659) Journal

    End every punishment doled out by the government without a trial by jury.


  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:26AM (#47784707)

    Balogna. The dullards you're doubtlessly citing use the "increase in rejected FOIA requests" metric that handily sweeps under the rug the proportionally greater increase in answered FOIA requests, because honesty isn't part of the game plan.

    Why don't you file a FOIA request for Lois Lerner's emails?

    Why don't you tell us why the Attorney General has been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents?

    Most. Transparent. Administration. Ever.

    Really? You believe that, I've got a great bridge to sell you.

  • by vortex2.71 ( 802986 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:35AM (#47784777)

    This is all such a joke and epitomizes the cat and mouse game that the executive office likes to play. Any idiot can see that the clear solution is to give all supreme court justices and several federal appeals court justices in each district Q clearances to review any top secret information pertinent to the cases that they are hearing. This would allow for proper judicial review rather than trample on the constitution's system of checks and balances. Further, ALL state senators should be given Q clearances also, so that they can properly perform legislative action. When you consider the number of people working at FBI, CIA, national labs, etc, adding 50 judges and 100 senators doesn't make much difference. If people were serious about democracy, this would have happened years ago.

  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Will.Woodhull ( 1038600 ) <> on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:36AM (#47784789) Homepage Journal

    Press conferences are not about openness. Traditionally, press conferences are about high level dissemination of propaganda and dysinformation. Like LBJ and the Vietnam Gulf of Tonkin incident; Nixon and the Parot Beak; Bush and Iraq's WMD; and so on.

  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cardoor ( 3488091 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:39AM (#47784803)
    my only problem with this, is that i'm 99% sure that a great number of people will read the first 2 lines, and stop there - taking comfort in their ignorance of the sarcasm.
  • Agreed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:46AM (#47784833)

    The erosion of our liberties and freedoms under the Patriot Act have been beyond shameful. We backed that up with blunders like GITMO. I am not sure where it ends, but it has played out as if the playbook was right from an Orwell novel.

    It would also be nice if we put more effort into being a likeable country rather than spending so much time, effort, money, and political capital keeping our enemies at bay and out allies paid off. If we would stop meddling in everyone else's affairs we might not have so many people and groups trying to attack us in the first place. It would take decades, as we have meddled for quite a while in quite a lot of places. But long term, it would be nice to have the moral high ground again.

  • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:52AM (#47784891)

    Do American citizens have a constitutional right to fly?

    That isn't remotely a relevant or even intelligent qustion. What you should've asked is: Does the Federal Government have the Constitutional authority to prevent - without a trial of their peers - American citizens from travelling freely. The answer is, of course, a no-fucking-brainer.

  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:10PM (#47785023) Homepage Journal

    I'm aware of your hostility to being called assholes. That's totally and completely reasonable, unlike your proposed political system.

  • by whitroth ( 9367 ) <> on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:51PM (#47785359) Homepage

    If so, you're idiots. Show me where he asked for the resignation of everyone appointed by Bush and Cheney.

    And tell me that there aren't folks who work for the government who wouldn't like to hurt him.

    As a couple of datapoints, 10-12 years ago, in the mainstream press, were two stories, not many months apart: first, Dem. Congressman David Thomas was prevented from flying, because his name was on the no-fly list, and it took *him* two weeks to get it off.

    How many folks do *you* know named David Thomas... or is that your name?

    And then there was the other case, and that did *not* end well for the TSA... when they tried to keep Sen. Ted Kennedy from flying, claiming his name was on the no-fly list.

    Come on, all of you on the right, let's see you posting screams of rage against Bush and Cheney for *pure* political persecution.


  • Re:It'd be nice... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:36PM (#47785715)

    I'd also argue Obama is a perfect example of what happens when the press abdicates its responsibility to hold government accountable.

    They did the same with Bush's lies over Iraq.

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

    by NotSanguine ( 1917456 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @03:55PM (#47786715) Journal

    Except they didn't ignore those, else no one would know what you mean when you say "Bush LIED!"

    And if lies are bad, what about Obama's serial lying about the ACA?

    - If you like your doctor, you can keep him - If you like your plan, you can keep it

    He probably said those sound bites HUNDREDS if not thousands of times, and each time he did he KNEW he was lying.

    BTW, got the stones to compare what Obama said about ISIS to what David Cameron said? Watch the two speeches and tell us all which one of those two looks and sounds like a deer caught in headlights.

    Both of those situations were heavily covered by the press on both sides. The difference, IMHO, is a matter of degree.

    The G. W. Bush administration lied about WMD [] in Iraq, justifying the invasion of Iraq, costing 4,486 U.S. service personnel and more than 100,000 iraqi lives. The hand-picked leader of Iraq further destabilized the region causing thousands, if not tens of thousands, more deaths.

    The Obama administration claimed: "If you like your doctor, you can keep him," and "If you like your plan, you can keep it." at the cost of zero lives and some confusion about the new ACA plans.

    As I said, a matter of degree. I'll leave a decision about the relative impacts of each as an exercise for the reader.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato