In the aftermath of the near catastrophe aboard Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day, Washington is clamoring for more names, faster, on the No-Fly List. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checks each potential traveler’s name against this list of persons deemed too dangerous to fly. This recent scare seems to have flipped the conventional wisdom about the No-Fly List. Fairly or not, many used to perceive the list as too big and too prone to false positives (remember Cat Stevens?). The new conventional wisdom seems to be different: fill ‘er up.
Have you ever wondered where this No-Fly List came from and how it came to look the way it does? What does “dangerous” mean? Who decides? Media reports about the No-Fly List led me to write my article in the UCLA Law Review, which explored the constitutional questions underneath those policy ones. Here is a very brief history of the No-Fly List to give you some perspective on the White House report scheduled for release today. I’ll conclude with a few questions that will be covered in future posts.