Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Challenging the no fly list

Since the beginning of its "war on terror", the US has run a secret "no-fly list" limiting the freedom of movement of Muslims (and also children, environmentalists, human rights activists and politicians). The list was pure executive fiat, and once you were on it there was no way to get off it. But now, a US court has ruled that inclusion on the list can be challenged in the courts:

Tens of thousands of people, including U.S. citizens who have never committed a crime, are forbidden from flying into or out of the U.S. because they are on a list they were never even told they are on: the No Fly List.

Today, a federal court ruled that Americans can challenge their inclusion on this secretive list on legal grounds.


The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that district courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges to the No Fly List, establishing a precedent for courts throughout the country. The court also reversed a lower court’s dismissal of Mokdad’s case, allowing him to proceed with his lawsuit against the Attorney General, Director of the FBI, and the Director of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).

This is good news, and a sign that the rule of law is gradually reasserting itself in the US. At the same time, this secret list limited the freedom of movement of tens of thousands of people, with no oversight and no real evidence. Those responsible for it need to be held accountable for that crime.