Once again, thank God for the ACLU
And again I shake my head that the GOP doesn’t support the ACLU and its mission—until I recall that the GOP hates the "other": any marginalized (or marginizable) group other than white males and those, being most powerless, are most often victimized, and so represent a good proportion of ACLU clientele. At any rate, Peter Finn in the Washington Post:
The American Civil Liberties Union plans to sue the U.S. government Wednesday on behalf of 10 citizens or legal permanent residents who have been placed on a no-fly list and, in some cases, stranded abroad.
The suit, in which the ACLU accuses the government of violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, is the group’s first legal challenge of the no-fly list.
The number of names placed on the list has increased significantly since the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound aircraft on Christmas Day, U.S. officials said. Some Americans have been barred from flying home from overseas because their names were listed.
The ACLU says Americans are being deprived of their rights as citizens and of due process.
"It really is abominable that they would treat U.S. citizens this way," said Ben Wizner, a staff lawyer at the ACLU’s National Security Project. "There is simply no legal basis for placing a U.S. citizen into involuntary exile. And to use a secret government list without any process to accomplish that goal is so un-American and so unconstitutional."
The suit, a draft copy of which was provided to The Washington Post, names as defendants Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Timothy J. Healy, the director of the Terrorist Screening Center. In it, the ACLU argues that there is little that people can do if they think their names were erroneously added to the no-fly list. They can appeal to the Department of Homeland Security, but the government will not confirm who is on the list or that any names have been removed from or kept on it.
"The government does not provide the individual with any opportunity to confront, or to rebut, the grounds for his possible inclusion on the watch list," according to the suit, which will be filed in Oregon. "Thus, the only ‘process’ available to individuals is to submit their names and other identifying information to the Department of Homeland Security and hope that an unknown government agency corrects an error or changes its mind."
An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the suit, noting that the agency had not seen it. He referred to a previous statement on the no-fly list that said that the "FBI is always careful to protect the civil rights and privacy concerns of all Americans."
Before December, the number of people whose names on the no-fly list — and who are thus barred from boarding a U.S. carrier, a U.S.-bound flight or entering U.S. airspace — was approximately 4,000, U.S. officials said. It is unclear how many U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are on the list now.