Statement of Alexandra Hay
ACLU "No-Fly" Lawsuit
As a college junior with a double major of French and English, I'm more interested in Proust and Trollope than government policies. I had never even heard of the No-Fly list until last November, when I was flying home from Vermont to spend Thanksgiving with my family. When I tried to check in at the airport, a ticket agent told me in front of everyone that my name was on a No-Fly list. I was embarrassed and also a little intimidated, especially because she couldn't tell me why I was on this list. I was even told that they were not allowed to tell me how to have my name removed. I had to wait a long time until she could finally let me on the plane.
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It happened again five days later on my way back to school, and this time I was even more worried because I was planning to fly to Paris in January 2004 for a semester abroad. That's when my Dad contacted the ACLU of Pennsylvania. The ACLU got in touch with the TSA and threatened to file a lawsuit if they couldn't get some kind of assurance that I would not be stopped again. I guess that got their attention - a TSA attorney escorted me through the Philadelphia Airport to make sure that I got on my flight to Paris without a problem. He also gave me a letter verifying my identity. But the letter said the TSA could not promise that there would be no delays or that I wouldn't be stopped in the future.
After they cleared me to fly, the ACLU withdrew the lawsuit, but I am participating in today's nationwide lawsuit because I don't think I should have to get a team of lawyers involved every time I want to get on a plane.To this day, I still don't know why I was put on the list to begin with. I've heard it may be because my name matches someone else's name on the list, but I can't even get confirmation about that. It's all very secretive. But if the government is treating someone like me as a potential terrorist, I have to wonder - who is looking out for the real terrorists?