TSA Has Been Compiling A Shitlist Of Travelers It Just Doesn't Like
from the this-time-it's-personal dept
The TSA is the worst. Super-secret watchlists can keep people from flying — people deemed too dangerous to travel but not dangerous enough to arrest. This isn’t the TSA’s fault. Not these lists. Those are maintained by agencies who could possibly cobble together enough intel to build a flimsy case against these “dangerous” would-be travelers.
The TSA, however, maintains its own database of travelers. It can’t necessarily keep them from boarding airplanes, but it can give agents a heads up that the person in the queue probably needs to be detained and hassled. [via Boing Boing]
The Transportation Security Administration has created a new secret watch list to monitor people who may be targeted as potential threats at airport checkpoints simply because they have swatted away security screeners’ hands or otherwise appeared unruly.
A five-page directive obtained by The New York Times said actions that pose physical danger to security screeners — or other contact that the agency described as “offensive and without legal justification” — could land travelers on the watch list, which was created in February and is also known as a “95 list.”
It’s an agency shitlist, and only the TSA knows who’s on it. This list doesn’t contain people who’ve actually assaulted agents, but people who’ve expressed their displeasure with intrusive gropings through words or non-violent deeds. The agency’s official statements make it clear this is an arbitrary way to punish travelers who make agents unhappy, noting that it neither requires “injury” to a TSA employee nor the intent to do so. Instead, the list contains anyone who presents a “challenge” to the “safe and effective completion of screening.”
That’s about the end of the TSA’s honesty on the matter, however.
So far, the names of fewer than 50 people have been put on the watch list, said Kelly Wheaton, a T.S.A. deputy chief counsel.
But two other government security officials who are familiar with the new watch list, describing it on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it, said that the number of names on the list could be higher, with travelers added daily.
Without evidence, the TSA claims a whole 34 of its screeners were “assaulted” last year. Keep in mind this number pales in comparison to the millions of travelers screened every year. The fact that this happened eight more times last year than it did the year before (26 in 2016) does not demonstrate the need for a special list of argumentative travelers. Also keep in mind the TSA’s definition of “assault” — much like law enforcement’s — covers actions or words that do cause “injury” and may have been committed with zero intent to cause harm.
On top of the seemingly punitive motivations for creating the “95 list”, there’s the fact that once you’re on this list — like other government lists targeting travelers — you may never come off.
The directive obtained by The Times does not specify how members of the public can appeal being included on the list.
Just like all the other travel-related watchlists, then. Great. So, the TSA can freely antagonize travelers and slap them on a watchlist if they respond antagonistically. I guess we can mark this down as a win for terrorists because it sure doesn’t feel like a win for Americans.