Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 25, 2006

FBI and TSA settle no-fly list lawsuit with ACLU

Filed under: Aviation Security,Legal Issues — by Christian Beckner on January 25, 2006

Via the AP:

Two federal agencies agreed Tuesday to pay the American Civil Liberties Union $200,000 to settle a lawsuit brought to uncover information about the government’s no-fly list, which bars suspected terrorists from airliners….

In October 2004, documents that the FBI and Transportation Security Administration provided in the lawsuit revealed the government has “two primary principles” but no “hard and fast” rules for deciding who gets put on the secret list.

The article later notes those two principles:

One heavily redacted document says getting on a list is guided by two “primary” principles: Whether various intelligence agencies view an individual as a “potential threat to U.S. civil aviation,” and whether the agency requesting a listing has provided enough information to identify the person to be flagged at check-in.

These principles seems much too discretionary, although perhaps the redactions in the document hide some of the precise details. In any case, clear watch list standards and policies are needed if the government is going to achieve the objective of creating an effective watch list redress system by the end of 2006, as announced last week by Sec. Chertoff. It’s not going to be easy for DHS to build a redress system without clear standards and policies already in place that define and categorize how and why names were added to the list(s).

For more information, see the ACLU’s webpage on the case and this Oct. 2004 post at Secondary Screening.

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