The no-fly list as a means of coercion

Gulet Mohamed, whose story I have written about before, is back in the US.

His case illustrates how the US government, headed by that noted constitutional scholar Barack Obama, subverts the constitutional protections of its citizens by using the no-fly list to coercively detain and interrogate citizens in other countries which have far fewer protections, at least on paper.

Civil liberties groups charge that his case is the latest episode in which the U.S. government has temporarily exiled U.S. citizens or legal residents so they can be questioned about possible terrorist links without legal counsel.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. government on behalf of 17 citizens or legal residents who were not allowed to board flights to, from or within the United States, presumably because, like Mohamed, they were on the government’s no-fly list. Of those stranded overseas, all were eventually told they could return, often after they agreed to speak to the FBI. None was arrested upon their return.

The ACLU suit, filed in Portland, Ore., alleges that Americans placed on the no-fly list are denied due process because there is no effective way to challenge their inclusion.

There is a weird Orwellian quality to the no-fly lists.

The government does not acknowledge that any particular individual is on the no-fly list or its other watch lists. Nor will it reveal the exact criteria it uses to place people on its list… But U.S. officials insist that the process used to place individuals on the no-fly list is legal and well founded, and relies on credible intelligence.

Right. After all, the government has such a good reputation for telling the truth and behaving according to the law so why shouldn’t we trust it implicitly?

As Nat Hentoff writes, we are allowing the creation of a system of secret rules and prisons to be used at the will and discretion of the president, outside the range of the constitution.


  1. says

    As long as the people being detained or “disappeared” are Islamic-Americans, the great American public won’t give a hoot. In fact, they will thank their President for protecting them.

    And while we’re on the topic of racism, where is the NAACP voice in this debate? Oh, that’s right; not the right kind of colored people. Doctor King would surely be disappointed with his successors.

    Similarly, we will never have a memorial service for the thousands of innocent victims of our “preemptive” wars and brutal sanctions regimes. We will only hear how many brave American troops died supporting freedom. It is only their lives that matter.

    When the Republican House majority read the Constitution recently, they really were remiss in eliding the Three-Fifths Clause. While it no longer applies to slaves at home, it clearly does apply to a broad category of humans deemed unworthy of full recognition, both at home and abroad. It is still very much part of the national fabric and character.

    God Bless America!

  2. says

    These practices should not be going on in a democracy, secret prisons in secret locations, who is responsilble to keep those imprisoned safe from their captives? This is the type of thing you here in countries without an established government!
    However we still need systems in place to protect us from those American Citizens that do intend to do us harm!!

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