U.S. Muslim Group Challenges No-Fly List In Federal Appeals Court Saying They Where Listed For Unknown Reasons
San Francisco, CA -
A groups 15 Muslims that are U.S. citizens or legal residents are challenging the TSA's No-Fly list, arguing they were denied the ability to fly on commercial airlines in the United States after being put on the watch list with no notification and no way to find out why or to challenger it, or even get the chance to be removed.
Members of this group say they only learned they were on the list after booking a flight and finding out at the airport they can not fly. They argue that their constitutional rights have been violated, and that they were denied their requests by the TSA to know why they are on the list and refused any chance to be removed.
Four of the members of the group suing the government are veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces and have no criminal background records.
The No-Fly list was created in 2003 as part of the U.S. reaction to 9/11. "The government has created this secret list, and the people on the list have no way of defending themselves," said Nusrat Choudhury, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who is representing the group, which filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government in June 2010.
Most of the plaintiffs live in Oregon was a US District court ruled it did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. Now the group is appealing that ruling, asking a three judge panel of the th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide the matter and decide which court has proper jurisdiction.
The government argues that there is already an adequate process in place for contesting an individual's inclusion on the list, and that all the plaintiffs have used it. The government also has said none were permanently stranded in a foreign country.
The group however says this false, the some of them were overseas for work or visiting family and became stranded after being denied boarding on flights to return home in the United States.
It was only after the government was confronted with the situation of denying U.S. citizens from entering the US or coming home did it allow for those stranded to return and reportedly debated the issue and asked "how much criticism would they endure" if they refused.
The TSA has a process for someone to challenge being on the list, and provides a redress number once it decides. During this process, the person in question is not permitted to see why they were included on the list, and is not provided reasons as to why they remain on the list if the TSA refuses to remove them.