Some air passengers are being subjected to surveillance by US air marshals as part of a TSA program called Quiet Skies, The Boston Globe reports. The TSA says that this initiative is an attempt to prevent another 9/11-style attack, but there are concerns that the program may violate civil liberties.
Some air passengers are allegedly being subjected to covert surveillance by U.S. air marshals as part of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) initiative known as Quiet Skies, The Boston Globe reports. The program has supposedly been in place since 2012, but the paper reports that, as of March 2018, the administration has “stepped up its efforts, launching the undercover surveillance program, which it calls ‘special mission coverage.’”
According to the outlet, “All US citizens who enter the country after foreign travel are screened for Quiet Skies. The program relies on 15 rules to screen passengers, according to a US Transportation Security Administration document obtained by the Globe. The document says that “rules may target” people whose travel patterns or behaviors match those of known or suspected terrorists or people “possibly affiliated” with someone on a watch list.
The outlet reports that air marshals monitor selected passengers for certain physical behaviors, such as sweating or fidgeting.
According to documentation obtained by the paper, the end goal of Quiet Skies is to identify “unknown or partially known terrorists”. The outlet reports that, at present, “About 35 people a day are being secretly surveilled by small teams of armed, undercover air marshals,” and adds that “about 5,000 unsuspecting people have been targeted so far.”
This surveillance program has come under fire from those who are concerned about preserving personal privacy as well as civil rights.
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) has been outspoken in his criticism of the program and was quoted by the outlet as saying, “Quiet Skies is the very definition of Big Brother.”
According to The Telegraph, the TSA has denied that it is in any way compromising civil liberties and has offered reassurance that the initiative is being deployed only as a protective measure.