When I heard that the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the “No Fly List,” my gut reaction was: What? Challenge the “No Fly List”? That’s insane. We need the “No Fly List” for our safety. Then, I questioned my credentials as a progressive-type. Would my liberal card be taken away? (For the record, I imagine my views on animal rights will keep me permanently in the radical left-of-liberal camp.)
As I listed to the radio program with Ben Wizner, I began to see the issue. According to the ACLU, individuals are placed on the “No Fly List” without warning or the right to contest their status, problematic because it violates the right to due process. Wizner described one of the plaintiffs as a permanent, legal U.S. resident who was traveling overseas. He flew from his point of origin to a connection in Germany (I think) where he was told he could not proceed but had to fly back to his point of origin. He was interviewed by FBI agents, and, according to the story, to get off the “No Fly List,” he could succumb to months, maybe years, of bureaucratic procedures or consent to become a confidential informant. The rub is that he knew nothing, yet there was pressure to name names – much like the Salem Witch trials and McCarthy’s communist hearings.
Don’t get me wrong – I want to be safe; I want terrorists kept from airplanes or other places where they can wreak havoc. Even more, I want the country to live up to its responsibilities. There has got to be a better way. I am reminded of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s quote, in opposing a use-of-force resolution after 9/11: “Let us not become the evil that we deplore.”