The no-fly list really is a no-brainer

It is worth noting that although everyone, including the President, uses the term “no fly list”, the actual legislation that has been proposed references the “terror watch list”, which is a much larger list, and even more secretive. This is the sort of misdirection that makes people distrust politicians.

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This isn’t from any actual, you know, knowledge, but my guess is that the TSA wouldn’t mind if terrorists lined up to find out if they were on the list. I suspect that their cell numbers would be collected while they were moving through the screening line, and an equivalent number of drones would be readied for launch.

I’m not saying that I approve of drone tactics, mind you…

Whilst I think that access to automatic weapons should be restricted, to narrow it to the issue of no-fly lists assumes that potential terrorists’ access to semi-automatic weapons is actually the significant problem. Terrorists’ use of any weapon to kill Americans is trivial compared to overall firearms deaths. Baby steps I guess.


“The end justify the means” is always a tenuous argument, and seldom more so than when said ends involve further eroding due process and giving more extrajudicial powers to the secret police and their lists.


[quote=“hungryjoe, post:7, topic:70524, full:true”]The simple defense against this, for the government, is to decline a background check without giving a reason. If the person who was denied can’t show it was because of the No-Fly list, the government will claim he has no grounds to attack it, and the courts will dismiss the case. This is how the NSA fights these things.
The Federal Government does not have the option to decline a NICS check without giving the person a reason why the check was declined. If a NICS check comes back as either DELAY or DENY, the FBI must give a reason if the applicant files a NICS appeal.

There is no provision in Federal law for secret NICS denials, nor secret delays.

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[quote=“William_Holz, post:18, topic:70524, full:true”]Yeah, there’s no way that somebody could find out they’re on the watch list. Other than TRYING TO FLY SOMEWHERE
That was such a bullshit argument.
The US has multiple “watchlists”, the No-Fly list is a small subset of the secret list – it is entirely possible to be on a terrorist watchlist and successfully fly to/from/within the USA.

Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) has +1M names in the classified "secret’ database, a subset of which are exported to the “sensitive” FBI “Terrorist screening database”, from which an even smaller subset is exported to TSA to build the No-Fly list, NCIC list, border watchlists, etc.

If you buy a ticket online but cannot check-in online, you still might not be on the No-Fly list; If you are (temporarily or permanently) on the Selectee List you can tell by going to the airport and asking for a boarding pass – if you get SSSSS and a strip search, but ultimately are allowed on the plane, you’re just a Selectee, not a No-Flyer.

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Right, I should’ve specified ‘No Fly list’, which was specifically mentioned in the article and the quote I had. I was just on my phone and watch came up in my hints. :smile:

So anyway, that part’s still a bullshit argument…as is anything that impacts one’s ability to conveniently travel. If you’re planning something big and you try to fly somewhere and it doesn’t go perfectly, you’re of course going to be amazingly cautious…even if you’re not on the list.

So basically it’s really easy for a would-be terrorist (which admittedly is statistically zero risk and we waste an insane amount of effort on because the media likes getting us riled up for money) to at last get a clue that it’s time for a different plan. The only thing that wouldn’t raise any flags is if they had a perfectly normal flight.

Since Obama was referring to the No-fly list and not ‘all terrorist databases’, Mr. Joly was still full of shit.

That being said, the list is a stupid idea, as is using it to deny anybody ANY rights. We’re creating more problems (and deaths) than we prevent with these approaches (again, statistically. Simply choosing to drive instead of fly greatly increases the risk to yourself and others)

We could probably afford to lose a few planes full of people and still not make up for the loss of life caused by people not flying because it’s become so inconvenient or because they’re on a list.

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I’m almost certain it is. It was fun just to watch mental gymnastics/math of the political right.

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Isn’t the US subject to a UN law recognizing freedom of travel as a basic human right? It has been years since I read it, so I don’t remember the specifics. That might be doable as a pretext for arresting part of the “intelligence” apparatus.

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If deciding to be politically impotent makes you feel amused, knock yourself out. Forcing your country to live by its own rules can get quite amusing as well. Most people refuse to take any action which would actually make a difference.

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Weird parallels here. Republicans are faulted because they didn’t “protest it with any significant volume.” However, Democrats get a pass because most didn’t “explicitly call out the continuation of the No Fly List” as a policy that they wanted to continue.

Perhaps, but the Democrats, especially once Obama became president, didn’t protest the No Fly List “with any significant volume” either, outside of about 30 House members led by Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Not nothing, but that’s about the same number of House members as the libertarian wing of the Republicans that vote against the drug war and to reign in the NSA, etc.

The Patriot Act had 98 Senators vote in favor of it, one abstention, and Russ Feingold (D-WI) voted against originally. The renewals of expiring provisions have been overwhelmingly bipartisan. Yet somehow you give Democrats a pass by explaining that they “had to” because of a perception of being weak otherwise. Why not just as well say that Republican politicians had to as well because they would be accused of being weak by both voters, independents, and even opportunistic Democrats if they didn’t?

If you’re going to claim that Democrats, even with a 60 vote filibuster proof majority in the Senate, a very wide majority in the House, and the White House-- a President recently elected supposedly on a pro civil liberties platform couldn’t undo the policy, then what is the point of ever voting for Democrats? They will always be scared to do what you claim (without real evidence, i.e. action) that they really want to do, if they won’t do it after winning a landslide victory.

As far as I can tell from your argument, the only way to get civil liberties reform is to never vote for Democrats, but vote for civil liberties minded Republicans. Because apparently even with a huge super majority having run on civil liberties, the Democrats will be unable to do anything, and you’ll give them a pass.


Using the no-fly list as a method of regulating firearms ownership is nonsensical. It’s like using a wrench to turn a Phillips pan-head sheet metal screw. The only scenario in which it makes sense is one of quiet desperation. Unlike air travel, firearms ownership is an explicitly outlined constitutional right.

The reality is that it is very difficult to stop a small, motivated group of individuals from doing great things in a free society–even if those things are evil.

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Has any terrorist even been on the no fly list?


Next up: put the entire NRA onto the no-fly list

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This shouldn’t be partisan. I am a Democrat. I enjoy exercising my 2nd amendment rights. So call me a centrist! The issue here is the No-Fly list. For quite a while, I got “special” screening every time I flew. Finally one of the check-in agents at one airline told me that I must be on a “no-fly” type list. Apparently my name suggested I was a terrorist: David Jones!!! My goodness, how many David Jones must there be. This happened despite the fact that I am an officer who serves in the military! I found out how to file paperwork with TSA to get a “redress number” so that finally stopped happening. Thank goodness now military members can put their ID numbers in airline reservations as a “known traveler” and avoid this nonsense (and get PreCheck to boot!)

It is clear that closing the “no-fly list” “loophole”, while seeming to make sense at face value, actually would take away the rights of many innocent individuals. Once again, a politician with a great soundbite that doesn’t really get the job done.


Then why wasn’t it 60 house members?

How old are you? Do you remember the campaign ads for the 2002 midterms?

Republicans have a pretty solid brand as foreign policy hawks. Democrats have a pretty solid brand as effete do-gooders. You’re failing to take into account a powerful asymmetry in perceptions of the two parties.

And these perceptions are so widely and consistently held that I can’t help but think you are aware of them. So why ignore them?

To staunch the bleeding. Even if they don’t repeal these crazy policies, at least they don’t implement them. (They implement a different set of crazy policies.)

Well, maybe, but “civil liberties minded Republicans” seem to be more keen on civil liberties for large businesses than for the squishy sort of persons, and I believe personal autonomy has been harmed a great deal by the effects of deregulation and market consolidation in the last few decades. I know “civil liberties minded Republicans” tend not to agree with me that private firms can encroach on individual liberty every bit as much as the government can, but I’ve never seen more than an argument by assertion that consumer choice and right to quit are sufficient to prevent any such problems.

Pointing out that the Republican party is the one primarily responsible for the erosion of civil liberties since 2001 is not quite giving the Democrats a pass. I certainly never said they were good on civil liberties. As a mentioned before, the best I can say about them is that they’re less bad.

Which doesn’t make this any less of a partisan issue.

But you’re re-writing history. The Democrats did not have a “huge supermajority”. They had 52.3% of the House. And I encourage you to go back and watch some campaign ads from that year. I think any principled investigation will reveal that there was no organized effort by the Democrats to “run on civil liberties”. Anywhere in the country where the race is close between Democrats and Republicans, Democrats only get elected by being more conservative, and so a good number of Democrats who are shit on civil liberties ended up getting elected. (Joe Lieberman? Remember that guy?)

Obama did run on civil liberties, but when he tried to advance any kind of civil liberty agenda, Republicans attacked him for being soft on terrorism, or for being pro-terrorist, or for actually being a terrorist himself. That didn’t happen? I’m pretty sure that happened.

So yes, this is all so bipartisan, but I’m afraid I still have to assign the lion’s share of culpability to the xenophobic anti-intellectual party. Sorry.



Lists tend to need to get done.

Some lists make me itchy.

This list makes me wish for pre-911 America, man. And that is an itch that seems never to scratch…


The founding fathers didn’t conceive of air travel, but I’m pretty sure they would have considered freedom of movement a more fundamental liberty than the right to bear arms. They didn’t feel a need to explicitly enumerate a right to ride horses or to mosey, but I think it’s safe to say that they thought those should be rights that people have.

I suspect they felt the need to explicitly enumerate firearms because it was somewhat more controversial than the right to move across the face of the earth, even back then.