/ August 20, 2008

"No-Fly" List Suit is Cleared for Take-off


On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to reinstate a challenge to the no-fly list in a federal trial court, the first suit of its kind permitted to go forward. The court’s decision opens the door to each individual who suspects that he is included on the list, hundreds of thousands of names long, granting him review of the evidence against him and a trial by jury.

Ibrahim v. Homeland Security was intitially thrown out in the federal district court on the grounds that any suit involving the Transportation and Security Administration must be filed in an appeals court, where the right to produce evidence and call a jury is restricted. The 9th Circuit, however, ruled that because the FBI, rather than the TSA, compiles the no-fly list, the case could proceed at the trial level. The suit was brought by Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford student from Malaysia, who alleges that in 2005 she was handcuffed and detained at an airport for several hours, without explanation, when a flight attendant realized her name was on the no-fly list. Ibrahim has no criminal record or links to terrorism, and while TSA has neither confirmed nor denied that her name is on the list, she charges that the list and her treatment violated her constitutional rights against unlawful search and discrimination.

Ibrahim is only one of thousands who have endured delays and mix-ups due to their questionable inclusion on the list. One of the most frustrating hassles can be sharing a name with an individual on the list, and the inclusion of some amazingly common names (even James Wilson, according to the travel blog Gadling…) has created many an airport nightmare. Thankfully, TSA has set up an inquiry system called TRIP through which mistaken identities can be resolved and individuals can request removal. But now, if all else fails, beleaguered travelers like Ibrahim can take their case to court.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

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