Last year, in response to an ACLU-sponsored lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown ordered the federal government to create an appeals process for people placed on the "no fly" list that prevents travelers from boarding flights to, from, within, or across the United States. Last spring the Department of Homeland Security began telling travelers barred from flying whether they were on the list and, if so, informing them of their right to initiate a "redress inquiry." But it's hard to get off the list if you don't know why you were put there to begin with, and the government says it can't be specific because that would endanger national security.
"By its very nature, identifying individuals who 'may be a threat to civil aviation or national security' is a predictive judgment intended to prevent future acts of terrorism in an uncertain context," two Justice Department officials say in a May 28 brief quoted by Spencer Ackerman in The Guardian. "Judgments concerning such potential threats to aviation and national security call upon the unique prerogatives of the Executive in assessing such threats." In other words: We know what we're doing; you'll just have to trust us.