The TSA’s watchlist for troublemakers

  • 31 May 2018
  • jwoodie
The TSA’s watchlist for troublemakers

The Transportation Security Administration has long been a thorn in air travellers’ sides. The long lines, coupled with the sometimes outrageous and intrusive searches of toddlers, the elderly, and the disabled leave us wondering just how much worse air travel can get.

It now seems the TSA has been keeping a secret list of people it considers “troublemakers” – people who may, or may not, have pushed backed (sometimes literally) against being groped and probed as they pass through security:

The Transportation Security Administration has created a new secret watch list to monitor people who may be targeted as potential threats at airport checkpoints simply because they have swatted away security screeners’ hands or otherwise appeared unruly.

A five-page directive obtained by The New York Times said actions that pose physical danger to security screeners — or other contact that the agency described as “offensive and without legal justification” — could land travelers on the watch list, which was created in February and is also known as a “95 list.”

“An intent to injure or cause physical pain is not required, nor is an actual physical injury,” according to the directive that was issued in March by Darby LaJoye, the agency’s assistant administrator for security operations.

According to the directive, people who loiter suspiciously near security checkpoints could be put on the watch list. So could those who present what the document vaguely described as “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening.”

But on its own, the watch list cannot be used to prevent passengers from boarding flights, nor can it impel extra screening at security checkpoints, according to the document. That has raised questions about whether it serves a legitimate security purpose, and has heightened civil liberty concerns over the added government surveillance.

So what’s the point of having such a list if it can’t be used to deny boarding? It may be to protect TSA agents from those who are truly a potential threat . Fair enough.
But considering the various indignities, gropings, and surliness (not to mention outright incompetence) the TSA requires everyone to endure in order to catch a flight – maybe it’s the public who should be compiling a list on the TSA.