TSA compiled se­cret list of ‘un­ruly’ pas­sen­gers

Agency says fewer than 50 peo­ple are on it; 2017 saw over 34 as­saults on of­fi­cers

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - NATION & WORLD - By Fredrick Kun­kle

The Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, not con­tent with pat-downs and other pro­ce­dures, has been com­pil­ing a se­cret watch­list of “un­ruly” pas­sen­gers who might pose a threat to TSA staff at air­port check­points.

The watch­list, first re­ported Thurs­day by the New York Times, in­cludes peo­ple deemed by the agency to have en­gaged in be­hav­ior or come into con­tact with a TSA of­fi­cer in a way the agency deemed to be of­fen­sive or threat­en­ing. Peo­ple who are seen to be loi­ter­ing sus­pi­ciously near the check­points could end up on the list, the Times says, cit­ing a fivepage TSA di­rec­tive it ob­tained.

Lisa Farb­stein, a TSA spokes­woman, said the agency took the step to pro­tect its of­fi­cers from com­bat­ive pas­sen­gers, and that so far, fewer than 50 are on it.

In fis­cal 2017, there were more than 34 as­saults on TSA of­fi­cers, she said.

“TSA is com­mit­ted to its peo­ple and wants to en­sure there are safe­guards in place to pro­tect TSA of­fi­cers and oth­ers from any in­di­vid­ual who has pre­vi­ously ex­hib­ited dis­rup­tive or as­saultive be­hav­ior at a screen­ing check­point and is sched­uled to fly,” Farb­stein said in an email Thurs­day.

Thou­sands of pas­sen­gers, in turn, have com­plained about check­point be­hav­ior and phys­i­cal con­tact by TSA of­fi­cers. But the se­cret watch­list also raises ques­tions about pos­si­ble civil rights abuses and due process for those who land on the list.

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union ex­pressed some of the same con­cerns Thurs­day about the TSA watch­list that the or­ga­ni­za­tion has raised about the broader sys­tem of na­tional se­cu­rity watch­lists. Too many in­no­cent peo­ple are swept up onto watch­lists main­tained by the FBI and other agen­cies, and there are in­ad­e­quate meth­ods to chal­lenge those des­ig­na­tions, the ACLU said.

“It per­mits TSA of­fi­cials to black­list peo­ple for con­duct that could be wholly in­nocu­ous,” said Hugh Handey­side, a staff at­tor­ney in the na­tional se­cu­rity project of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union. “This is con­duct that’s so com­pletely sub­jec­tive, and in many cases likely com­pletely in­no­cent, it just gives of­fi­cers too much lat­i­tude to black­list peo­ple ar­bi­trar­ily and to essen­tially pun­ish them for as­sert­ing their rights and in do­ing any­thing other than com­ply­ing with of­fi­cers de­mands.”

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