DHS stalls no-fly list trial by putting witness on no-fly list

Phil writes, "Edward Hasbrouck of the Identity Project is doing a fantastic job of reporting on-site from Ibrahim v. DHS, the first legal challenge of United States government's no-fly list that has ever seen a courtroom. On the first day of trial, the judge learned that the plaintiff's daughter, scheduled to testify, was delayed because she had been denied boarding of her flight because she was put a Department of Homeland Security no-fly list. DHS staff deny this. The government's lawyers told the judge that the daughter is lying. The airline provided documentation of the DHS no-fly order. The subject matter of this trial is intense---restriction of movement based on blacklists---but there's no sign of an end to the jaw-dropping entertainment."

“None of that was true,” Ms. Pipkin told the court this morning. “She didn’t miss the flight. She was there in time to check in. She has not been rebooked on another flight.” And most importantly, it was because of actions by the DHS — one of the defendants in Dr. Ibrahim’s lawsuit — that Ms. Mustafa Kamal, was not allowed to board her flight to SFO to attend and testify at her mother’s trial.

Ms. Pipkin said that Ms. Mustafa Kamal had sent her a copy of the “no-board” instructions which the DHS gave to Malaysia Airlines, and which the airline gave to Ms. Mustafa Kamal to explain as much as it knew about why it was not being allowed to transport her. Ms. Pipkin handed Judge William Alsup a copy of the DHS “no-board” instructions to Malaysia Airlines regarding Ms. Mustafa Kamal.

Major props to Malaysia Airlines for providing a copy of the DHS instructions to Ms. Mustafa Kamal. Other airlines receiving similar instructions have acquiesced to DHS orders to keep the instructions from the DHS, and the reasons for the airlines’ actions, secret from the would-be travelers whose rights are affected. So far as we know, this is the first time an actual no-fly order has been disclosed to a would-be traveler or potentially to the public.

Archive of Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim posts (Thanks, Phil!)

Notable Replies

  1. I know they operate in consequence free-land, but isn't flagrantly lying to a judge and interfering with a witness grounds for disbarment and even jail?

    No way that will happen of course, but is that not one of the core tenets of the legal system?

  2. Yep, not a police state, not at all.

  3. I know this guy, 'Pyrrhus' who the DHS might want to meet...

    Seriously. It's not as though they'll face any little-people consequences directly for that stunt; but could the witness possibly have said anything as damaging as having her suddenly slapped on the no-fly list, mid-trial, and then eventually getting to say whatever it was she originally had planned?

    I get the impression that judges can tell when they are being fucked with, and don't like it.

  4. A "he says, she offers documented evidence to the contrary" scenario, maybe. This sort of "false balance" crap has shot a crater in modern journalism. No need for us to engage in it.

  5. SamSam says:

    Come on, I realize "anything's possible," but let's not go the route of "and maybe no one in the case is who they say they are! And maybe the judge is pretending to be a judge! And maybe they're all lizard people!"

    Yes, it's possible that the documents the witness had are faked, but is it reasonable for you or I to believe so?

    We know that the judge is going to want them checked (since, if they were fake, the DHS would protest). We know he'll ask the airline if they really were served those papers. The witness knows this as well. If the witness were as god-damn stupid enough simply to print out something on their printer, they're going to be held in contempt of court in a moment and maybe jailed for perjury.

    Meanwhile, it's perfectly possible for DHS to deny this, and then when pressed say that some internal department or computer error had added her to the list, and deny knowledge or culpability.

    So let's please apply Occam's Razor. Yes it's possible that this witness is an idiot and is just printing out pieces of paper when she knows she'll get caught, but why decide to stake your whole stance on "I don't believe either side" as if either story is just as likely? That's what Ignatius was referring to with the "false balance crap."

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