ƒата: 08-08-18 18:39
Not so УquietФ skies: revelations from TSAСs surveillance program
This article was written by Bonnie Goldstein, Investigative Advisor with the Project On Government Oversight and first was published on POGO. Read the original article here. The opinion of the authors does not necessarily correspond with that of the editorial team. Want your opinion to be featured on AeroTime? Send us a line at email@example.com.
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The U.S Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which stations armed plainclothes officersЧknown as federal air marshalsЧon U.S.-carrier flights to protect passengers in the event of an attempted hijacking has itself been hijacked by a resource-intensive assignment.
The Boston Globe last weekend reported that sky police УteamsФ have been officially tasked with implementing the agencyТs previously undisclosed 2010 УQuiet Skies Program.Ф On a typical day, under the newly revealed program, air marshals are tasked with УSpecial Mission CoverageФ to surreptitiously surveil and report the observed behavior of around У40-50Ф targeted travelers deemed Уhigher risk.Ф
The travelers are drawn from the daily pool of passengers who happen to be returning to or visiting the United States Уfrom foreign locations.Ф A TSA Уneed to knowФ bulletin leaked to the Globe describes examples of possible УQuiet Skies RulesФ criteria.
Reasons to possibly target individuals include if a travelerТs Уreservation information includes email addresses or phone numbers associated with watch listed terrorism suspectsФ or if a traveler Уspent a certain amount of time in one or more specific countries.Ф
A 2016 Government Accountability Office report evaluating the Federal Air Marshal ServiceТs risk strategy notes that a Special Mission Coverage assignment is one where air marshals are deployed on flights Уthat have a known or suspected terrorist on board.Ф However, the leaked bulletin notes the targeted citizens or legal visitors in the Quiet Skies program Уare not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base (TSDB).Ф
Once these unsuspecting American citizens or legal visitors make the cut as УQuiet Skies SelecteesФ they remain in that status Уfor up to 90 days or 3 encounters, whichever comes first.Ф
The Globe reported that domestic traveler selectees are monitored in the airport, the boarding area, and during their entire flights from or to airports as large as Houston, Detroit, New York, and Miami or as small as Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) and Harrisburg (Pennsylvania).
Agents use an internal TSA checklist to track such telltale terrorist characteristics as being Уabnormally aware of their surroundingsФ evidenced by Уreversing or changing directions and/or stopping while in transit through the airportФ or by Уusing the reflection in storefront windows to identify surveillance.Ф
The Globe reports that air marshals made note that certain monitored passengers had characteristics such as Уsweaty palms,Ф Уstrong body odor,Ф or a Уcold penetrating stare.Ф
Information on whether the surveilled subjects used the lavatory or slept during the flight, and if so, for how long, is logged into an officerТs air activity report. The closely observed individuals are watched and their activity logged on a checklist for such unusual travel activity as carrying a computer or conversing with a fellow passenger.
Some air marshals within the TSA think the program is misguided. УThe air marshal's job is to protect the cockpit and the pilots,Ф air marshal and whistleblower Robert MacLean told CBS Evening News after the story broke, УLet somebody else do the intelligence and criminal investigative work."
Although the leaked bulletin states the TSAТs Office of Intelligence and Analysis employs 17 Уrules to screen passengers,Ф what qualifies the profiled passengers for the taxpayer-funded special attention to their Уexhibited behavioral indicatorsФ is not public.
In a press statement to CBS Evening News, the TSA said:
УThe primary purpose of this program is to ensure passengers and flight crew are protected during air travel. Contrary to the article 'Welcome to the Quiet Skies' published by The Boston Globe, the program doesn't take into account race and religion, and is not intended to surveil ordinary Americans. In the world of law enforcement, this program's core design is no different than putting a police officer on a beat where intelligence and other information presents the need for watch and deterrence. The program analyzes information on a passenger's travel patterns, and through a system of checks and balances, to include robust oversight, the program effectively adds an additional line of defense to aviation security. With routine reviews and active management via legal, privacy and civil rights and liberties offices, the program is a practical method of keeping another act of terrorism from occurring at 30,000 feet.Ф
TSAТs public assurances donТt appear to be enough for some in Congress, who want to learn more. Citing the GlobeТs story and the leaked documents, Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday sent a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske requesting information to Уensure TSAТs programs and policies provide appropriate privacy and due process protections to travelers, are applied without discrimination, are grounded in actionable intelligence, and exist within TSAТs legal authorities.
»сточник информации: AeroTime
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