U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 13 Muslim Americans, asserting that the “no-fly list” violates their constitutional rights to due process because there is no effective way to fight their placement on the list. The plaintiffs, four of whom are U.S. military veterans, were unaware that they were on such a list until they arrived at an airport and attempted to board a flight.
The government contends that there is adequate means of contesting the flight ban by petitioning a U.S. appeals court directly for relief. In fact, the list is shrouded in such secrecy that it is nearly impossible to determine why an individual has been placed on the list. Those who have been placed on the list have been offered to have their names removed in exchange for becoming an undercover informant, even in cases where they have never been charged with a crime.
The no-fly list was created in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and as of last year included nearly 20,000 people that the FBI have identified as having, or suspected of having, terrorist ties. According to an agency spokesman, about 200 of those individuals were U.S. citizens.