The TSA Has a Watchlist of Unruly Passengers at Security Checkpoints

May 18, 2018

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The Transportation Security Administration has compiled a new watchlist of passengers who the agency dubs as potential threats at airport security checkpoints. Offenses such as swatting away a TSA screener’s hand could reportedly land passengers on the list.

The watchlist is a collection of passengers whose actions have physically threatened TSA agents at security checkpoints or any type of behavior the agency vaguely perceives as “offensive and without legal justification,” according to documents obtained by The New York Times. Behavior like loitering suspiciously near airport checkpoints or posing “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening” could get flyers added to the list.

The documents, a directive issued in March from Darby LaJoye, TSA’s assistant administrator for security operations, further state that “an intent to injure or cause physical pain is not required, nor is an actual physical injury.”

The purpose of the watchlist, the TSA says, is to protect its officers at checkpoints.

“TSA is committed to its people and wants to ensure there are safeguards in place to protect Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and others from any individual who has previously exhibited disruptive or assaultive behavior at a screening checkpoint and is scheduled to fly,” a TSA spokesperson told TPG in an email.

In 2017, there were more than 34 assaults on TSA’s security checkpoint officers, according to the agency’s records. That number is up from 26 assaults in 2016.

The agency also told TPG that the list currently only has 50 names. But other officials anonymously told the Times the number of people was much greater and that new names were being added daily.

The list, also called a 95 list, cannot preclude passengers from boarding flights, nor can it mandate additional screening at checkpoints. Critics say this is unnecessary government surveillance.

“If I’m running late, having a bad day and I’m rude to the screeners, do I get put on the list?” Fred Burton, the chief security officer at Stratfor, a global intelligence company in Austin, Texas, posed to the Times. “The bottom line is that in the post 9/11 world, do we really need another watch list — particularly one from the TSA, which is not an intelligence agency?”

Featured image by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images.

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