ACLU And DOT Confront Airline Security

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Pilots are not the only ones raising concerns about security measures -- last week, both the American Civil Liberties Union and Department of Transportation spoke up on behalf of commercial airline passengers. The ACLU Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to force the government to talk about its secret "no fly" and other watch lists. The ACLU wants to know how the lists were created, how they are maintained, and how people who are mistakenly included on the list can get their names removed. Friday, the Aviation Enforcement Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation filed a complaint against American Airlines, alleging the carrier discriminated against passengers who were or were perceived to be of Arab, Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian descent and/or Muslim. The allegations in the complaint concern 10 individuals, mostly American citizens, who were either removed from or denied boarding on their scheduled American Airlines flights, even though they were properly ticketed and had successfully passed all security checks. In some cases the complainants were immediately rebooked on American or another airline and not subjected to any additional screening, even though they had been removed from their original American flight as an alleged security risk. The Aviation Enforcement Office filed its complaint after settlement negotiations to resolve the matter proved unsuccessful. The office charged the carrier with violating federal law that prohibits discrimination due to a person's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry.