After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the federal government of the United States carried out some measures to battle the terrorism threat in the country. One of these measures is the implementation of the US No Fly List, made and maintained by the TSC, Terrorist Screening Center. It is frequently the topic of jokes in television shows and movies. A lot of people are asking what it means and how it works. So, how does it really work? Individuals included on the US No-Fly List are banned from boarding a commercial aircraft traveling within or outside the United States and which has been used to redirect aircraft with people on the list who are not taking a trip to and from the US far from US airspace. Names found on the list come from the US intelligence gathering and vary in length. In 2012, there were 21,000 names reported on the List.
The No Fly List should not be mistaken for the Terrorist Watch List, which is much longer with 875,000 names in 2013. In addition to fighting terrorism, the No Fly List is aimed at preventing the travel of registered sex offenders and persons convicted (some are just suspected in some cases) of drug (illegal narcotics) trafficking. For this reason, many civil rights groups criticize the No Fly List for its unclear criteria as well as its possibility for abuse when it comes to ethnic, racial, economic, religious and political groups. It also entails concerns on privacy and government secrecy. Moreover, it is too expensive, easily defeated and prone to false positives. At present, the No Fly List is the subject of several lawsuits against the government of the US, principally for banning travel by people who deny affiliation with terrorist groups or any knowledge of them besides hearing about them in the news. Many of them are businessmen, reporters, teachers or individuals who often travel to Muslim countries or practice Islam. Most of them stress that the US No Fly List is biased and not legitimate. However, these lawsuits are usually hindered by the government’s right against revealing classified info that could endanger national security. Those who are acting against these claims find it difficult to investigate the reason why they were included on the List or to confront the List on constitutional grounds since they cannot show any improper behavioral pattern. Luckily, the chances of being on the list are too small. As a matter of fact, there is a higher probability for you to get struck by lightning (24,000 across the globe each year) than to be included on the US No-Fly List (21,000 in 2012). However, when your name is on the list, it can be a legal nightmare to have it removed. Nonetheless, the List is designed to protect the US public from being attacked by terrorists aboard a plane and permitting terrorists to travel to and from the country. Though statistics that measure the effectiveness of the program are strictly confidential, the fact that there has not been another major terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 is the reason for its success.