Tag Archives: no fly list

Conn. Gov. to Ban Gun Sales to People on Terror Watch Lists via Executive Order

Democratic Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced at a Thursday press conference that he intends to sign an executive order banning the sale of guns to individuals who have been placed on a federal anti-terror watch list.

We intend to prevent, by executive order through my powers as governor, those on government watch lists from obtaining a permit to purchase a firearm in Connecticut. The executive order would add an additional level of protection and require those who apply for a permit to be screened against government watch lists,” said Gov. Malloy according to NBC Connecticut.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: Abolish the Unconstitutional No-Fly List Before It Is Too Late]

Connecticut requires all gun purchasers to first submit to a permit process involving a background check, and Gov. Malloy’s executive order is intended to block anyone found on federal watch lists from purchasing pistols, rifles, shotguns, or ammo.

According to WFSB-TV, Gov. Malloy is not yet sure which government watch lists he intends to use as his basis for banning guns. “We are working with federal authorities to gain access to these lists… whether it be a no-fly list or some combination of people who should not have weapons,” he said. “Congress has failed to act, so in Connecticut we shall act. If you can not fly due to being on a government watch list, you should not be able to buy a weapon.

Gov. Malloy added, “If [the request for access to federal watch lists is] approved, we will sign an executive order. We will take action. Like all Americans, I’ve been horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in California and Paris. This should be a wake-up call for all of us. This is a moment to seize here in America, and today, I am here to say in Connecticut, we are seizing this moment.

The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau wrote, “The federal government maintains several databases of people suspected of links to terrorism, including a no-fly list barring certain individuals from boarding airplanes in the U.S. Those databases, especially the no-fly list, long have been challenged by civil libertarians regarding the lack of transparency about how and why people are included. Most individuals in the databases have never been charged with a crime and are only suspected of being involved with terrorism.

In April of 2013, a few months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Gov. Malloy signed into law one of the strictest gun control bills in the nation, requiring universal background checks for all firearms purchases and banning the sale of magazines that hold over ten rounds of ammunition.

DONEGAN: Abolish the Unconstitutional No-Fly List Before It Is Too Late

[pull_quote_center]Right now, people on the No-Fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane. If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun. And so I’m calling on Congress to close this loophole, now. We may not be able to prevent every tragedy, but- at a bare minimum- we shouldn’t be making it so easy for potential terrorists or criminals to get their hands on a gun that they could use against Americans.[/pull_quote_center]

President Obama made the statement above on Saturday.

Obama’s comments come in the wake of a Dec. 2 mass shooting by alleged terrorists in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 21 wounded. The president’s Organizing for Action non-profit is currently petitioning citizens to urge Congress to close what he refers to as a “loophole” allowing people on the No-Fly list to purchase firearms.

However, the president’s argument assumes that a person’s placement on the No-Fly list proves that he or she is “too dangerous to board a plane.

[RELATED: Federal Judge Rules Current No-Fly List Unconstitutional, House Intel Chairman Calls Ruling “Disaster”]

The No-Fly list is a Bush-era anti-terror watch list on the basis of which the federal government denies people, many of whom have never been accused of a crime, access to air travel. The American Civil Liberties Union has long decried the list as too secretive, too big, and lacking due process both in terms of how individuals wind up on the list and how they go about having themselves cleared from it.

Though many Republicans once argued in favor of the No-Fly list as a way to crack down on terrorists, Obama’s effort to strip gun rights from those on the list seems to have pushed even GOP hawks to to the other side on the issue.

The Hill notes that hawkish Republican Senator Marco Rubio has now taken to parroting the ACLU’s rhetoric on the subject. “These are everyday Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism, they wind up on the No-Fly list, there’s no due process or any way to get your name removed from it in a timely fashion, and now they’re having their Second Amendment rights being impeded upon,” said Sen. Rubio on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

Rubio added, “The majority of the people on the No-Fly list are often times people that just basically have the same name as somebody else who doesn’t belong on the No-Fly list. Former Senator Ted Kennedy once said he was on a no-fly list. There are journalists on the No-Fly list. There are others involved in the No-Fly list that wind up there… Sometimes you’re only on that list because the FBI wants to talk to you about someone you know, not because you’re a suspect. And, again, now your Second Amendment right is being impeded with.

ACLU National Security Project director Hina Shamsi wrote on Monday, “As we will argue to a federal district court in Oregon this Wednesday, the standards for inclusion on the No Fly List are unconstitutionally vague, and innocent people are blacklisted without a fair process to correct government error. Our lawsuit seeks a meaningful opportunity for our clients to challenge their placement on the No Fly List because it is so error-prone and the consequences for their lives have been devastating.

Our clients, among them four U.S. military veterans, were never told why they were on the list or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it. Some were stranded abroad, unable to come home,” said Shamsi.

It is unknown how many people are on the No-Fly list. The Los Angeles Times estimates that around 10,000 of the listed names belong to American citizens. Rubio says that Diane Feinstein’s Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, which was voted down by Congress last week, would have restricted the constitutional rights of up to 700,000 Americans who he says are on various unspecified anti-terror lists.

[RELATED: Historic: Feds Notify 7 Americans of Their Removal from No-Fly List]

ACLU’s Hina Shamsi likened the No-Fly list to a Minority Report style effort at pre-crime and said, “The government has emphasized that it is making predictive judgments that people like our clients — who have never been charged let alone convicted of a crime — might nevertheless pose a threat. That’s a perilous thing for it to do. As we’ve told the court based on evidence from experts, these kinds of predictions guarantee a high risk of error. If the government is going to predict that Americans pose a threat and blacklist them, that’s even more reason for the fundamental safeguards we seek.

The No-Fly list as is already violates Americans’ rights to travel and due process. President Obama’s push to strip gun rights from those on the list has turned Republicans against it and has created a rare opportunity in which support could be generated for abolishing the list entirely. It is time to eradicate this unconstitutional process before it slips out of control. If not, we may be spiraling towards a future in which more and more American rights are denied on the basis that a government bureaucrat has unilaterally placed them on a secret list.

The real No-Fly list loophole is not that people on the list can buy guns, but the fact that government bureaucrats are using it to sidestep American citizens’ constitutional protections.

Historic: Feds Notify 7 Americans of Their Removal from No-Fly List

Back in June of this year, Annabelle Bamforth at BenSwann.com reported on a case that the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of 13 Americans who found themselves on the federal government’s no-fly list. At that June hearing, US District Judge Anna Brown ruled that the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, the process through which Americans found to be on the no-fly list request their removal, violates due process rights and is unconstitutional. At issue were the facts that individuals who contacted DHS through the program almost never received a meaningful reply and that those who were removed from the list were not being notified, as officials claimed doing so would jeopardize national security.

Now, Ars Technica is reporting that the Department of Justice, for the first time in US history, just announced the names of seven Americans who were removed from the no-fly list in response to the ruling. In a letter dated October 10, the DOJ declared that Ayman Latif, Elias Mustafa Mohamed, Nagib Ali Ghaleb, Abdullatif Muthanna, Ibraheim Y Mashal, Salah Ali Ahmed, and Mashaal Rana, seven of the 13 plaintiffs on the ACLU’s lawsuit, have been cleared to board planes again in the land of the free. NPR notes that the six additional Americans listed on the ACLU’s lawsuit who have not yet been cleared will be told the rationale behind their inclusion on the list by January of 2015, at which time they will be allowed to defend themselves from those allegations.

One of the Americans who was cleared in Friday’s letter from the DOJ, Ibraheim Mashal, is a veteran who served his country in the US Marine Corps. In a statement cited by Ars Technica, Marshal said, “More than four years ago, I was denied boarding at an airport, surrounded by TSA agents, and questioned by the FBI… That day, many freedoms that I took for granted were robbed from me. I was never told why this happened, whether I was officially on the list, or what I could do to get my freedoms back. Now, I can resume working for clients who are beyond driving distance. I can attend weddings, graduations, and funerals that were too far away to reach by car or train. I can travel with my family to Hawaii, Jamaica, or anywhere else on vacation.”

Ars Technica notes that, according to a leaked federal “watchlisting guidance” manual, over a dozen federal agencies have the power to nominate people for terrorist watch lists and “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary” for inclusion. Over the past five years, 1.5 million Americans have been nominated for inclusion on terrorist watch lists. 470,000 names were nominated in 2013, of which 4,915 were rejected. By August of 2013, 680,000 people had been listed on the government’s master terrorist list, of which 280,000 are not accused of having any ties to a terrorist organization. By that same date, 47,000 people and 800 Americans had been identified as being on the no-fly list.

The ACLU declared victory in an October 10 blog post about the case and released this quote by the director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project, Hina Shamsi, “This is a victory for transparency and fairness over untenable government secrecy and stonewalling. After years of being blacklisted and denied due process, seven of our clients know they can fly again, and the rest will soon be able to fight back against their unjust flying ban… The opportunity that the plaintiffs in our case are finally getting to clear their names should be available to everyone on the No Fly List as soon as possible.” This landmark case may lead to a future in which additional Americans are able to challenge the merits of their inclusion on the no-fly list.

Lawsuit Alleges FBI Used No-Fly List To Pressure American Muslims To Become Informants

New York April 24, 2014- In a lawsuit filed in New York on Tuesday, four Muslim men who are United States residents accused the FBI of using their “no-fly” list as a tactic to pressure them to serve as informants by reporting on other Muslims in their communities. The plaintiffs also allege that they were either placed or kept on the no-fly list as punishment for their refusal to become informants.

One of the plaintiffs, Jameel Algibhah, lives in the Bronx and used to visit his wife and children in Yemen several times a year. The lawsuit claims that the FBI made several attempts in 2009  to recruit Algibhah as an informant, including asking him “to attend certain mosques, to act ‘extremist,’ and to participate in online Islamic forums and report back to the FBI agents,” as written in the lawsuit. After Algibhah refused to comply with these repeated requests, he realized that he was on the no-fly list in 2010.

The lawsuit claims that an agent said “that he would take Mr. Algibhah off of the No Fly List in one week’s time should their present conversation ‘go well’ and should Mr. Algibhah work for them.”

Muhammad Tanvir, an additional plaintiff who lives in Queens, experienced similar treatment from the FBI. Tanvir alleges that after his passport was taken by authorities following a trip to Pakistan, the FBI implored him several times in 2008 to become an informant. The lawsuit stated, “…the FBI agents threatened Mr. Tanvir, warning him that if he declined to work as an informant, then he would not receive his passport and that if he tried to pick up his passport at the airport he would be deported to Pakistan.”

Tanvir said that in 2010 he was informed that he was not allowed to fly, and that the FBI would only assist him in being removed from the list “in exchange for relaying information about his community”.

Plaintiff Naveed Shinwari is a Connecticut resident who had also refused the FBI’s prompts in 2012 to become an informant. After his refusal and several interrogations, Shinwari alleges he was placed on the no-fly list. He was able to board a flight this year, but he is unsure if he is still on the list or was merely given a one-time waiver.

Plaintiff Awais Sajjad, a New York resident, alleges in the complaint that he was interrogated at the John F. Kennedy International Airport while attempting to fly to Pakistan to visit family. Sajjad said he was informed that he was on the no-fly list and was offered a job as an informant for the FBI. After he refused, he was subjected to additional interrogation and a polygraph exam. Sajjad alleges that he was told that he’d failed the polygraph exam, and that he would only receive assistance to be removed from the no-fly list  if he submitted to another polygraph exam and more questioning.

All four of the men have neither been accused or found guilty of being a threat to flight safety.

The lawsuit stated that the plaintiffs have all suffered from disruptions in their family and work life due to being placed on the no-fly list. “Plaintiffs are among the many innocent people who find themselves swept up in the United States government’s secretive watch list dragnet. Defendants have used the No Fly List to punish and retaliate against Plaintiffs for exercising their constitutional rights,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs requested in the lawsuit to be removed from the no-fly list, and are seeking “declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief”. The FBI has declined comment.

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