The temptations of terrorist watchlists: How the U.S. No Fly List is changing the meaning of citizenship
On what basis should watchlisting decisions be made and by whom? And have watchlists begun to proliferate beyond their original purposes and beyond the liberal democracies that invented them?
Terrorist watchlists, such as the U.S. No Fly List, raise important questions about the nature of an open society, the rights of citizens, the uses of technology, and the responsibility of the state for national security. The right to enter, leave, and travel within one’s country is essential to full citizenship in a modern democratic republic. Ironically, the digital revolution lauded for its globalizing effects also enables government restrictions on travel (as well as other rights and privileges) to an unprecedented degree. On what basis should watchlisting decisions be made – using facts of what origin, assessed according to what standards – and by whom: well-meaning but zealous officials, a neutral magistrate, or a computer’s cold algorithms? These questions reveal broader, darker implications for watchlisting policies and technologies: watchlists have begun to proliferate beyond their original purposes and beyond the liberal democracies that invented them.
At this seminar Professor Jeffrey Kahn will talk about how the U.S. No Fly List is changing the meaning of citizenship. Kahn is Professor of Law and Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law (Dallas, Texas, USA) where he teaches and writes on national and international human rights law. He is the author of Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists (University of Michigan Press, 2013) and his work on watchlists has been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian (UK), and numerous academic journals and law reviews. Most recently, he contributed the chapter on terrorist watchlists to the Cambridge Handbook of Surveillance Law (2017). He is the only person to testify in federal court as an expert witness on watchlists in the first and only No-Fly List case to reach the trial stage. Prior to academia, Professor Kahn served as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice.
The event is hosted by the Consortium for Research on Terrorism and International Crime.