US reportedly easing rules for no-fly list

The Obama administration will change the process by which travelers can seek to be removed from the federal no-fly list of terror suspects restricted from air travel, according to a new report.

The United States Justice Department said the process will change in the next six months, the Associate Press reported on Tuesday, though the government has offered few details on such changes.

In a court filing earlier this month, the government said it will “endeavor to increase transparency for certain individuals denied boarding who believe they are on the No Fly List.”

The policy reversal comes after a federal judge ruled in June that it is unconstitutional for those on the list to not have any significant path to challenge their designation as a risk when flying to, from or within the United States.

As of one year ago, about 48,000 people were on the no-fly list, according to AP. It is the government’s policy to neither confirm nor deny that one is on the no-fly list, per security claims. Many assume they are on the list after they are routinely subjected to additional screening at airports, or are barred from flights altogether.

The post-9/11 counterterrorism program has been criticized for a lack of due process based on the opaque way the federal government has handled details of its no-fly list.

“It’s long past time for the government to revamp its general procedures,” said Hina Shamsi, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Shamsi and others representing 13 Muslim-American plaintiffs who sued the federal government over its no-fly list policies argued that the list violates constitutional rights to due process.

“The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society,” District Judge Anna Brown, of Oregon, wrote in the June decision.

“Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel,” Brown said.

The plaintiffs in the case, which includes four veterans of the US military, insisted before the court that they only learned of their placement on the no-fly list once they arrived at airports and were promptly rejected.

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