Three California residents are among 15 plaintiffs preparing a renewed challenge to the nation’s secretive no-fly list, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings to keep suspected terrorists off commercial airliners.
Maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center and overseen by the FBI, the no-fly list reportedly contains some 20,000 names, among them about 500 U.S. citizens. As many as 800 changes, such as removing or adding names, are made to the list each day.
A much larger terrorism watchlist of a half-million people across the globe that contains the names of those barred from flying also includes individuals subjected to heightened security screenings. Because the no-fly list is classified, no one can be sure whether he or she will be prevented from flying until after arriving at the airport with a purchased ticket.
The plaintiffs say they’ve been unfairly denied the convenience of air travel and must spend days on trains and in cars in order to cross the country. Civil libertarians argue that the list withholds the due process rights of travelers. There’s no meaningful way to dispute one’s inclusion on the list and determine if the status is based on mistakes or flawed intelligence.