The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a new watch list that monitors those who are seen as potential threats at airport checkpoints as a result of their “unruly” interactions with security agents.
The New York Times obtained a five-page memo, which verified that those who appear to pose a physical threat to security agents or who exhibit behavior that is “offensive and without legal justification,” are subject to be included on the list, which was compiled in February and is referred to a “95 list.”
“An intent to injure or cause physical pain is not required, nor is an actual physical injury,” stated the memo, issued by Darby LaJoye, the Assistant Administrator for Security Operations for the TSA, in March.
According to the memo, people who loiter near checkpoints, as well as those who pose “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening” process could be added to the list. The list, however, is purely instructional since it cannot disallow passengers from boarding flights.
“If I’m running late, having a bad day and I’m rude to the screeners, do I get put on the list?” said Fred Burton, the chief security officer at Stratfor, a global intelligence company. “The bottom line is that in the post 9/11 world, do we really need another watch list — particularly one from the T.S.A., which is not an intelligence agency?”
Lawmakers have requested additional information regarding the list since they were unaware of its existence. They also advised that the TSA inform those that are added to the it.
“T.S.A. has an important job to do, and I want T.S.A. officers to be safe and secure,” said Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) during a congressional homeland security subcommittee hearing. “What I don’t want — what I think no American would want — is an excuse for unfair, secret profiling that doesn’t even offer a chance for people to contest their name appearing on such a list.”
Matthew F. Leas, a TSA spokesperson, alleges that the agency “wants to ensure there are safeguards in place to protect Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and others from any individual who has previously exhibited disruptive or assaultive behavior at a screening checkpoint and is scheduled to fly.”
Civil liberties groups fear that those on the list will be added to other homeland security lists.
“While people on the list are not necessarily subject to additional scrutiny, it seems likely that agents would single them out for additional attention, and there is no way to get off the list,” said Faiza Patel, a director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice. “It will be difficult to control the consequences.”
TSA security operations have been criticized in the past for racial and religious profiling. Numerous African-American women have reported having their hair searched. Recently, Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, was asked to remove his turban at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Bains is a Sikh and is required by his religion to wear a turban. The TSA claims the security agent had not followed protocol and has since received additional training.