At the same time, there have been equally confusing claims and denials that some people found out that they had already been "put on the no-fly list" when they were denied boarding on flights home from Washington.
Are these people "on the no-fly list"? Could they be? Should they be? Is this legal?
How do you get on the no-fly list? How do you know if you are on the list? How do you get off? What substantive and procedural legal standards apply?
The answers to all of these questions are much more complicated, and different, than many people seem to think — including the chairs of relevant Congressional committees, who ought to know better. The reality is that:
2. There are also non-list-based ways that real-time no-fly decisions can be made.
3. No-fly decisions can be, and are, made independently, on the basis of different lists and other criteria, by multiple Federal agencies and by individual airlines.
So a better starting point for understanding what's happening — before we can begin to assess whether it is legal or what should be happening — is to ask, "How can a would-be passenger be prevented from boarding a scheduled airline flight?"