Getting Off The No-Fly List

With the rekindled excitement for prohibition people on the government’s terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms it’s a good time to review how terrible of an idea the lists themselves are. The lists and the criteria for appearing on them are secret so there is no due process involved. We know approximately 40 percent of the names on the lists aren’t affiliated with any known terrorist organization. To make matters even worse there’s no way to know whether you’re on the lists until you try to fly and end up being detained and interrogated for hours. And once you’re on the lists getting off of them is no simple matter:

Kadura, an American citizen, was placed on the federal government’s no-fly list in 2012. Since then, in addition to being prevented from boarding flights, he has been detained, interrogated, and harassed at border crossings and pressured by authorities to become a government informant.

yaseen Yaseen Kadura Photo: Courtesy of Yaseen KaduraThe 25-year-old American medical student, who was raised in Indiana, has spent the last three years trying to coax information out of the government and clear his name. Last year, he sued in federal court over his watchlisting, joining four other Muslim Americans represented by lawyers from the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. That case was still ongoing, when, this past September, Kadura suddenly received a brief, terse letter from the government indicating that he was no longer on the list and could board a plane without impediment.

Since 2012 Kadura hasn’t been able to fly. He finally found his ability to fly restored but there is no indication of why. There was no known process for him to file an appeal. He initiated a lawsuit, which hadn’t concluded when his ability to fly was restored so no information of how one might restore their privileges was drawn out during the hearing. Like getting on the list, getting off of the list is a black box.

Proponents of barring people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms like to say, “If you can’t fly, you shouldn’t be able to own a gun.” It’s idiocy that ignored the fact that nobody on the terrorist watch lists should be prohibited from flying since there is no due process involved in appearing on the lists nor is there a known way of getting remove.