Americans have always treasured the freedom to pick up and go anywhere they please. Our forebears had to travel to get here, often had to travel more after they arrived and sometimes moved on to uncharted territories out West only to return East. No one stopped them, whatever direction they were going. They had the good fortune to live and migrate before the creation of the all-encompassing national security state. After the 9/11 attacks, Americans woke up to find that their freedom to travel was not a fundamental right but a vaporous privilege, bestowed by the government and revocable at its whim. For more than a decade, writes Steve Chapman, the federal government assumed it could consign thousands of Americans to travel purgatory without justifying itself to anyone. But the no-fly list as currently administered may be headed for its final approach.
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