The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is running a secret surveillance program in which armed federal air marshals follow and collect information on innocent Americans if they do such actions as use the bathroom repeatedly, sleep on flights or sweat too much.
Boston Globe Spotlight fellow Jane Winter revealed the that this domestic surveillance program has been shadowing U.S. citizens on planes and in airports since 2012:
The previously undisclosed program, called “Quiet Skies,” specifically targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March…
But some air marshals, in interviews and internal communications shared with the Globe, say the program has them tasked with shadowing travelers who appear to pose no real threat — a businesswoman who happened to have traveled through a Mideast hot spot, in one case; a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, in another; a fellow federal law enforcement officer, in a third.
Winter told Democracy Now that some people are bumped off flight so that federal air marshals can sit near the innocent Americans they are following:
Oh, absolutely. Once I found out the details of this, I of course thought, “Oh wow, is this why we get bumped from planes all the time, even if we’ve booked well in advance?”
And the answer to that is not a hundred percent, I certainly wouldn’t say, but yes, they bump people from flights every single day to sit near the person who they are targeting, who in this case is someone who has no reason to be followed.
And it’s pretty remarkable, since you read John Casaretti’s quote, that air marshals who are actually assigned to carry out these tasks have been so concerned that—I’ve talked to more than a dozen, and that’s super rare.
And they believe that they are diverting their attention from actual, real threats by people who have a history of something that could lead to something dangerous, and they’re worried that they’re being ordered to carry out a program that may not be legal.
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