A woman who was barred from flying out of the Long Beach Airport is among 10 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the American Civil Liberties Union is representing in its constitutional challenge of the government's "no-fly list."
Halime Sat joins a disabled veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and veterans of the Army and Air Force as a plaintiff in the ACLU suit. None have been told why they cannot fly from the United States or over U.S. airspace nor how they can clear their names.
"More and more Americans who have done nothing wrong find themselves unable to fly, and in some cases unable to return to the U.S., without any explanation whatsoever from the government," Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, says in a statement issued by the civil liberties organization.
"A secret list that deprives people of the right to fly and places them into effective exile without any opportunity to object," he added, "is both un-American and unconstitutional."
Sat is a German citizen and lawful permanent resident of the U.S. She lives in California with her U.S.-citizen husband. But she was bounced from a flight from Long Beach to Oakland to attend a conference and has since had to cancel plane travel to participate in educational programs and her family reunion in Germany.
Other plaintiffs in the case are:
• Ayman Latif, a U.S. citizen and disabled Marine veteran living in Egypt who has been barred from flying to the United States and, as a result, cannot take a required Veterans' Administration disability evaluation;
• Raymond Earl Knaeble, a California-born U.S. citizen and U.S. Army veteran who is stuck in Santa Marta, Colombia, after being denied boarding on a flight to the United States;
• Steven Washburn, a U.S. citizen and U.S. Air Force veteran who was prevented from flying from Europe to the United States or Mexico; he eventually flew to Brazil, from there to Peru, and from there to Mexico, where he was detained and finally escorted across the border by U.S. and Mexican officials;
• Samir Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed, Abdullatif Muthanna, Nagib Ali Ghaleb and Saleh A. Omar--three American citizens and a lawful permanent resident of the United States--who were prevented from flying home to the U.S. after visiting family members in Yemen;
• Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, a U.S. citizen and resident of Portland, Oregon, who was prevented from flying to visit his daughter who is in high school in Dubai;
• Adama Bah, a citizen of Guinea who was granted political asylum in the U.S., where she has lived since she was two, but who was barred from flying from New York to Chicago for work.
Though there are 10 plaintiffs, the ACLU's legal complaint claims thousands of people have been added to the "No Fly List" and barred from commercial air travel without any opportunity to learn about or refute the basis for their inclusion on the list.
The result, says the ACLU, is a vast and growing list of individuals who, on the basis of error or innuendo, have been deemed too dangerous to fly but who are too harmless to arrest.
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"Without a reasonable way for people to challenge their inclusion on the list, there's no way to keep innocent people off it," said Nusrat Choudhury, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "The government's decision to prevent people from flying without giving them a chance to defend themselves has a huge impact on people's lives-including their ability to perform their jobs, see their families and, in the case of U.S. citizens, to return home to the United States from abroad."
Ahilan Arulanantham, Jennie Pasquarella and Reem Salahi of the ACLU of Southern California are among the many other attorney's working for the plaintiffs on the suit, which was filed against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) consulted with Knaeble and directed him to the ACLU.
The legal complaint is here.
More information about the lawsuit is here.