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TSA defends “Peaceful sky” surveillance program
Recently, program tracking revealed was a US citizen, even those not on a terrorist watch list or the suspicion of a crime. Lea Gabrielle breaks down the recent reports.
The Transportation Security Administration is pushing back on a report about a secret surveillance program targeting travelers who are not suspected of a crime or have links to terrorism.
“Quiet sky” is a program that has been in existence since 2010, but came under fire after a report this weekend from the Boston Globe.
The world reported that federal air marshals are tracking ordinary citizens of the US and gathering information about their movements and behavior.
TSA Public Affairs Assistant Administrator Michael Bilello, confirmed the program exists, and is necessary for protection against a “9/11-style attack,” but he said the idea that the TSA is aiming for is the ordinary Americans “ridiculous.”
Bilello added: “the average American would not come close to qualifying for inclusion in this program. If you are being observed by a federal air marshal as part of this program, it is because they have a pattern of travel, as well as other activities.”
As passengers pass through the security check, a computer algorithm that spots those whose travel and activities match with the current threat intelligence. A human team then vets the information, and if there is a red flag in the flyer background is that the person can be tracked by your traveling, and watching.
The internal documents show of the world, a check list for an armed undercover air marshals, which asks whether the passenger grab in question, or “white knuckling” your bags on, a “jump” in your Adam’s Apple, or a “cold penetrating gaze.”
Hugh Handeyside, a senior staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which could have National security project slammed this “behavior detection techniques” because of their subjective nature, in the face of a nervous flyer these same qualities.
The TSA did not comment the lists on the “check”, but defended this technique; Bilello, said: “you are observed when you enter the airport. I guess no one is surprised. If you are surprised that you attention not pay, if you go through a TSA checkpoint, you observe behavior detection.”
The ACLU calls for more information, the filing of a Freedom of Information Act request this week, to ensure that the TSA is using “proxies” to find out travelers on the basis of race or religion.
Handeyside said: “These concerns and the need for transparency are all the more acute because of the TSA’s track record of unreliable and unscientific techniques to screen and monitor travelers who’ve done nothing wrong.”
Legal experts like George Washington University constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley said the program raises serious privacy concerns and warnings about the creation of a “fishbowl society where the citizens feel that they are under constant surveillance and observation.”
Turley pointed out that the aircraft is a public space with little expectation of privacy: “However, the legal issues could be addressed, if the TSA is in assembling a type of digital Dossiers on citizens based on their movements, associations, and settings. In addition, if such monitoring is used, the restriction of freedom of travel, but it could also increase a comprehensible matter for the courts.”
In the light of these constitutional concerns are raised, the TSA still claims that the program has to add a strong supervision from the legal and civil rights experts, that the Congress has been informed already about the program four times in the last two months.
Fox News’ Lea Gabrielle contributed to this report.