Yeah, no kidding. That somebody could sincerely espouse such a position is mind-boggling to me. It ranks up there with "Gay people can already get married too (to the opposite sex)."
Potentially even worse, since it's so insidious, is that the fear of getting put on "the list" can have a chilling effect on the perfectly legitimate activities of loyal, law-abiding citizens.
Suppose you're a person of color or muslim, who happens to be interested in learning about the enemy (e.g. Al Qaeda). One obvious way would be to look at their forums online. But wouldn't you be at least a little bit afraid that someone's watching for people browsing to those sites, discovering your ethnicity and background, and slapping you onto the list?
From the other side, why wouldn't the watcher put you on the list, just in case? There are no negative consequences for the individual doing so (because no oversight/warrant procedure), and what if he/she "missed the next terrorist" (i.e. maybe you, as far as they know)? It's a no-brainer and could even be rationalized by otherwise well-meaning people as being patriotic. Imagine the poster on their cubicle wall of the burning WTC towers, with "NEVER AGAIN" underneath.
This warrantless, unsupervised paroxysm of fear has got to stop. We are Americans. We do not live in fear. We do not sacrifice our freedoms for security. We are willing to accept that some of us may have to die because we exercise those freedoms, and we know that the answer to "What if there's another 9/11?" is "Then we will survive and triumph through that, too."
To see just how important these are (and how abusive the "alternative" argument really is) consider the inverse, in which you're randomly banned from transit that uses wheels and were told that "as an alternative" you should "just" take a helicopter to the office every day. Figuring out how to pay for that is your problem. Can't pay? Well, then it's not really an alternative, is it?
Yup. I have driven across the entire country (~3000 miles) 3 times in the past 3 years. Anyone who says that driving is a substitute for flying, even domestically, is an idiot.
I was able to do that drive those times because my schedule permitted it, my bank account permitted it, and my car was in good enough shape to manage it without leaving me stranded with costly repairs. (The reason I did it was because I enjoyed it.) Had those stars not aligned, it would not have been feasible in the slightest. Forbidding people to fly, even domestically, is incredibly unreasonable.
I do understand that the judicial system applies different rational-basis scrutiny standards based on whether fundamental rights are being violated; I'm not protesting the legal logic at play in this case, especially since I haven't yet read the decision itself. But it could well be that the standards themselves are crazy. I plan on reading the decision in full tomorrow.
The key thing is that getting stranded somewhere like Hawaii would become a real problem. If there is a right to travel interstate to/from Hawaii, then there is a right to fly there. I would argue the same regarding Alaska too since you either have to go across international waters or through Canada.
> It ranks up there with "Gay people can already get married too (to the opposite sex)."
Having lived in more traditional places (and being in Indonesia now) I actually the due process issue in flying is far worse than the view you position, at least internationally. Marriage is extraordinarily cultural and multi-functional and in many countries, the fact that there are obligations to parents as well as children (and gender plays role in determining the qualities of power relationships) makes that argument valid in most of the world, so I have real trouble with the idea that it is a human rights issue. This being said, I think that "Marriage is about raising children and same-sex couples can adopt, but we don't want them to get married" is something I can't really understand how people believe.
Both of these issues are functional questions. Can you drive across the Continental US as an average person, or take a train or a bus? Sure. One could argue that flying there is a matter of mere convenience but not a core liberty interest. But what about travel to/from Hawaii and Alaska? As an average person one cannot so easily get there outside of being on a plane. Holding this to be an area where government can freely interfere also then puts residents of those states fully at the mercy of the federal government in a way that California residents are not.
Gonna cut you off right there, mostly because this is a topic that I didn't mean to dive into. My intention with that comparison was merely to compare it to another case of people being deliberately obtuse. Regardless of the merits of gay marriage (I don't think the merits are relevant to my comparison), the objection "But they CAN get married..." is deliberately obtuse (deliberately obtuse because the person saying it knows that the right to marry the opposite sex is not the issue, but are pretending to fail to understand that), and I think people on either side of the issue can generally recognize that.
My point here is that the people who claim that flying "is a privilege" and that nobody is entitled to it (having not been stripped of the right with due process) are being deliberately obtuse because they know, as well as the rest of us, that flying can be necessary in this modern society.
Deliberate obtuseness is my point here. I don't want to get into gender politics or the like.
What function does marriage have in a given place and time? How does a decision to allow or not allow same-sex marriage play into that? Usually the "it's a human right" crowd skips over that first question, which is my reason for discussing it. But not believing that it is a globally applicable human right does not necessarily determine the issue in a specific culture such as our own.
The same exists for due process rights. The due process right exists to ensure that government can't arbitrarily screw with your life because they don't like you. They can't throw you in jail, take your stuff, or the like. The question is how much putting you on a no fly list affects rights which are functionally necessary in our society. For this I think you have to look at the most intrusive implications, not the least. My point is that same-sex marriage is a very different situation where the normal retirement plan is to retire with one's children than in a society such as ours (I am an American though I am in Indonesia, so "ours" refers to American) where we expect pensions to be the primary support for the elderly.
In other words, "you can't fly from Bozeman to Sea-Tac" is not a real problem. It might take a day longer, but you can take a bus. "You can't fly from Honolulu to San Francisco" has very different implications. A no-fly list can't be effective if it distinguishes between these, and quite frankly after 9/11 a the latter flight is more problematic than the former. We know that there is a right to travel internationally and between the States. There are States that a no-fly list makes inaccessible to travellers directly, so therefore it violates that basic right which is a necessity regarding our system of federalism. Moreover, because some states are rendered inaccessible to those on no-fly lists, this also violates the basic equality of the states.
So I think there are a lot of issues here, but I tend to want to see more to "it's a right" than "because I think that would be a good idea." I think rights must be functional, because otherwise they are mere articles of faith.
Just forget I said it. I regret saying it and causing this OT tangent.
The question is, what is a right? I think you have a point that most of the discussion on rights is based on people sitting on their butts thinking "wouldn't it be nice if..." or "I want..." or "I think it would be fair if...." I would then say that most of the discussion on both sides of most of these issues (telephone metadata scooped up in large-scale operations, no-fly lists as violating due process, same-sex marriage, and much more).
I agree that's unhealthy. I was trying to provide an alternative viewpoint that would allow for discussions.
It's a question, but not The Topic of this thread.
How can you discuss whether interstate air travel is a right if we can't discuss what a right is?
The problem is we have an extraordinarily male-centric look at society and history. In this view, men do all the important things in history and women are more or less repressed bystanders. This is a natural consequence of the fact that men were writing the history books.
But there are reasons to question this. Chris Faraone recently wrote an impressive survey of gender in ancient Greece looking not at the Aristotelian view, but rather at a demotic view through thins like references to love magic. His book is "Ancient Greek Love Magic." What Faraone showed was that while the misogynous view was alive and well, it was coupled with a nearly opposite misandrous view as well. In other words, women were portrayed both as dangerously sexually insatiable and seductive during some parts of their lives but virtuous against the insatiable male in others. In my view Faraone stops short of the logical conclusions of his work, namely that the idea that women had no rights and that men were in control was largely a convenient fiction, and that the women had at least as much power as men did in ancient Athens. To my mind this represents the first crack in the modernist women's rights narrative.
I actually think that's we can show long-standing patterns regarding what is missing from a populace when women aren't there, and what is missing is basically what we would call society. In particular things like rule of law do not apply to areas where women are absent. But if this is true, then it seems like the norm is for women, far from oppressed onlookers, are likely to have been major actors and decision-makers throughout most of western history, but largely ignored because the decisions are made while beating flax, weaving using a warp-weighted loom, or carding wool instead of official institutions.
I think there are reasons to think there may be essential differences between the sexes regarding types of power relationships formed. Women even in Western cultures, I think, form power relationships of greater nuance, variety, and complexity than men do and this may be a key reason why society doesn't seem to really exist in times and places where women don't.
The arguments here regarding same-sex marriage and due process get to that. My argument is it is a functional question, and that rights arise from the functions that they fill, not the other way around.
I don't think we can answer a question regarding whether the no-fly list violates rights unless we can come up with some sense of what the basis for rights theory is. Calling into question things regarding gender I think is relevant to that larger discussion.
My complaint is that all too often "rights" become articles of faith, and so we can't debate whether a given right exists. The concerns over same-sex marriage underscore that point, but it is no different than when we look at whether the Verizon warrant and the NSA violates the 4th Amendment, and whether the no-fly list violates the 5th Amendment.
I don't think "I strongly feel" or "we culturally assume" is a basis for long-standing rights. I think there has to be something more.
For example here in Indonesia, Chinese-Indonesians prefer to retire with their daughters because the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is more complex and problematic than the mother-in-law/son-in-law relationship or the father-in-law/son-in-law relationship.
This means that over here same-sex couples are not similarly situated to the duties of marriage to the elderly.
My point is that judicial review does not break down simply to determining whether a "privilege" or a "right" is being curtailed. Certainly, if a "right" (and this means specific rights such as those guaranteed by the Due Process clause) is being curtailed, this will tend to push the standard of review higher. But that is not the only factor at work, and there is a very specific meaning of the word "right" in this context.
Also the court is so inconsistent on what gets what and whether rational basis means "we can imagine a rational basis" or "we have evidence for a rational basis" and whether a right gets strict scrutiny (free speech) or not...
For example, it is very difficult figuring out whether circumcision bans would be held to rational basis or strict scrutiny when it comes to religious liberty (it does with regard to eduction apparently, per Yoder v. Wisconsin, not regarding to drug laws absent the RFRA (see Smith v. Employment Department of Oregon), but it does reach regarding bans on ritual slaughter of animals, (see Lakumu Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah).
But that just illustrates that making some economically-mandatory action into a privilege make the license to that action into a powerful instrument of control. Hence, the No-Fly List, nominally For Your Safety, but mostly To Control You.
Edit: For non-cruise trans-Atlantic crossing by sea, the best I've been able to find on google is the Queen Mary 2. That seems to be generally considered an ocean liner rather than a cruise ship.
"The Italian Line's SS Michelangelo and SS Raffaello, launched in 1962 and 1963, were two of the last ocean liners to be built primarily for liner service across the North Atlantic. Cunard's transatlantic liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, was also used as a cruise ship. By the early 1970s, many passenger ships continued their service in cruising. By the first decade of the 21st century, only a few former ocean liners were still sailing, while others, like Queen Mary, were preserved as museums or floating hotels. After the retirement of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2008, the only ocean liner in service was Queen Mary 2, used for both point-to-point line voyages and for cruising."
(Of course this is just trivia and should not distract from the real point, which is that air travel has no real competition for a great number of routes, and the US government is increasingly restricting other forms of travel anyways.)
At the same time, isn't crossing the border firmly established as a "privilege"? In the good old days (ie a decade ago) you could just hop across the border pretty freely, but today you are required to have a passport or enhanced driver's license. Even fishing on the other side of the river (something my dad probably did at least four times a week when I was a kid) now has ludicrous reporting requirements, like calling customs via a landline to report you've crossed the border.
In any case, I've been researching trans-Atlantic passage and the QM2 seems to be the only way to get from the USA to Europe and back via water on a semi-regular schedule and not making a dozen party stops on the way.
Not a core source of revenue, but possible for someone needing to travel without using planes.
You are traveling on a working ship, with a very small crew, and not a lot of provided entertainment,(or internet access), so be prepared to look after yourself during these passages
According to that page, ships must hire a doctor if they have more than 12 passengers, so it's just not worth it for most of them to carry more.
The existence of this Kafka-esque list is mind-boggling.
Oh. Right. It's "Doing something." For the sake of the children, no doubt.
I used to have a bookmark for a site that documented a bunch of really egregious abuses of the no-fly list and there was a pretty consistent pattern - american citizen or permanent resident leaves the country for vacation or to see family and mid-trip is placed on the no-fly list, usually stranding him in an inhospitable country. Some of the people so stranded reported that they were then approached by US government agents that said if they would just 'cooperate' with them everything would be cleared up in no time at all. The people who told these stories always refused the offer.
Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the bookmark and with all the publicity this ruling is getting, google is flooded on all the keywords I can think of.
My money on what it is actually for? Theater, or "Doing something" as you put it. Alternatively, perhaps it serves as a bogey-man; "now I'm on a watchlist" has entered modern parlance and with it, the mindset that one must speak "unapproved" opinions softly.
I would like to think that I have these rights already defined or that they are defined under the Ninth Amendment. Given the current political climate, I am afraid that they are not.
But the No-Fly List does appear to violate the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting ... to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
The issue (at least as I see it here) is more about due process than the right to travel. Even if there were a right to travel, you could legally be denied that right for legitimate cases like parole or bail. But those cases mean you have your day in court.
These right should not be abridged for any reason. That, or they are not rights.
As I write the reply, I am becoming even more angry that the government can restrict one's activities without any judicial oversight. It's such a simple "check and balance" to add and it's one that makes people really happy. How dumb could you be to try and take away people's rights without even implementing the simplest possible administrative hearing?
Democracy is government for the people, by the people, held accountable by the people.
This is not democracy. There is no due process, there is seemingly no way to appeal, and nobody is held accountable for any decisions for this list, right or wrong.
Just before I went on vacation recently I was about to make a political comment online that was very critical of the US. I did not make the comment because I was afraid I would be put on a no-fly list and not be able to travel.
When I was about to board the plane I was questioned repeatedly by Customs/DHS agents in a way that was extremely stressful and somewhat humiliating. I believe that they violated my constitutional rights (and if not then perhaps we need another amendment to the constitution).
I had already been asked the same questions about where I was going and why by at least two different people. Now I was almost to the ramp to get on the jet and I think they could tell I was frustrated to be asked the same questions again. So since I was frustrated or for whatever reason they decided to basically interrogate me on the spot even though I kept telling them to please go ahead and search my bags. They wanted to know what I did and wanted details of my vacation. When I told them I was a software engineer they seemed to not believe me and asked for more details about what a software engineer does. Basically seemed to be accusing me of being a drug dealer or something.
I became angry. I think because I was angry they decided to demand the name of the company I worked for and the name of my manager. I also had told them that I was staying with a friend in this other country and they demanded that I give them her name as well. It seemed to me that unless I gave them this information I would not be allowed to board the plane. Even when they pulled the contract out of my bag that had the same company name I had given them they did not apologize. I really hope they did not contact my boss who is the CTO of the company. I know they did not contact my friend. Regardless getting a call from DHS about me could have affected the relationship with this company.
It seemed that basically I was being held back and questioned because I was angry and not submissive. It was not until I made a few statements that were more submissive and actually pleading that I was allowed to go.
I was the last person to board the jet. The actual flight which was something like 12 hours and then a stop and another 7 hours was actually fairly enjoyable for me. However the constant questioning and searching in the airports especially in the US was so stressful humiliating and generally horrible that I will certainly avoid flying as much as possible. I actually wonder if there is some group that just generally wants to discourage people from flying?
As for air travel security overall, i am starting to think what we have in this field now is about what terrorists wanted to achieve: a gross overreaction based on panic.
Even in Russia people's rights are not as easily taken away. Mr. Putin's regime may be all corrupt and cleptocratic, but makes very little if any pressure on individual freedoms, and with reason because protests have been violent. People don't care much about officials stealing oil money, but do care about pressure on themselves.
> An FBI agent...told him the only way to get off the No Fly List was to "talk to us."
It is very troubling to me that the government is not merely using the list as a shield to protect a plane by keeping out people who would pose a physical danger to it, but using the denial of air travel as a stick to beat people into informing on others.
To me, this scenario sounds plausible: The government finds people with Islamic names or innocent connections to the Middle East, puts them on the no-fly list and interrogates them whenever they come to the airport. Some of them give in to the government's pressure -- "find us some terrorists or you'll never be able to see your family overseas again" is not an easy offer to refuse.
Of course if the person doesn't know of any actual terrorists, the only to be allowed on the plane would be to make some up, or name innocent people they simply don't like or don't know well.
So basically lots of innocent people get harrassed by the government denying them international travel, while the government wastes investigators' time and taxpayer dollars pursuing entirely fictional leads from informants with no connection to actual terrorists, who just want the government off their backs and are willing to make up tips to accomplish that.
You are my newest hero!
This is the USA, not some tin-hat dictatorship, and it's about time someone within the federal government acknowledges these facts.