Government Agency Releases Documents on "No Fly" List; ACLU Says Many Questions Still Remain Unanswered

July 22, 2003 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO – The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California today said there were “”troubling inadequacies”” with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) management of its “”no fly”” list following a review of documents that were recently released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act.

“”When thousands of innocent travelers are likely being subjected to unwarranted searches and detentions because of these lists, the public should be able to understand and deliberate on whether the lists improve security, or are just a waste of government resources,”” said Jayashri Srikantiah, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “”No public debate or government accountability is possible so long as the federal government continues to keep the public in the dark.””

The ACLU analysis of the documents found that the TSA failed to answer basic questions about the “”no fly”” list. The documents were released after the ACLU and activists Rebecca Gordon and Jan Adams sent the information requests to the FBI and the TSA last December. To date, the FBI has yet to disclose any documents.

In its five-page analysis of the TSA documents, the ACLU found the following:

  • TSA lacks protocols for ensuring that First Amendment-protected activity is not a reason for an individual being placed on the “no fly” list;
  • TSA does not track how many times individuals are incorrectly stopped because of the “no fly” list, stating that there is “no pressing need to do so;”
  • TSA appears to have no instructions for airlines on how to respond to “no fly” list matches; and
  • TSA appears to provide no guidance to state and local law enforcement about the “no fly” list.

The ACLU’s complete analysis of the TSA documents is online at

The ACLU also said that, according to information it obtained from San Francisco International Airport last April, at least 339 passengers have been questioned because their names appeared on the “no fly” list. Recently obtained documents from Oakland International Airport indicate that at least 24 people have been stopped at that airport because of the “no fly” list.

A chart summarizing Oakland International Airport “”no fly”” incidents is online at

The documents released by TSA are online at

For more information on the ACLU’s lawsuit to obtain information about the “”no fly”” lists, go to /SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=12740&c

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