The Transportation Security Administration is keeping a secret watchlist of all Americans who don’t cooperate with their gropings.
The secret watchlist raises the specter that the purpose of the TSA has always been about gathering information. If you were a deep state bureaucrat planning for future contingencies it would be important to predict how many Americans would cooperate with “emergency” authority and how many would not. The TSA would thus be the perfect data collection mechanism. By ritually humiliating and molesting a sampling of Americans they can both learn what percentage are likely to be noncompliant and get a list of names of who some of those people are.
James Bovard writes in the L.A. Times, “After pointlessly groping countless Americans, the TSA is keeping a secret watchlist of those who fight back.”
“I need a witness!” exclaimed the security screener at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Because I had forgotten to remove my belt before going through a scanner, he explained, I must undergo an “enhanced patdown.” I told him that if he jammed his hand into my groin, I’d file a formal complaint. So he summoned his supervisor to keep an eye on the proceedings.
I thought of this exchange last week when the New York Times revealed that the Transportation Security Administration has created a secret watchlist for troublesome passengers. The TSA justified the list by saying that its screeners were assaulted 34 times last year, but did not release any details about the alleged assaults.
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Naturally, the TSA’s official definition of troublemaking goes well beyond punching its officers. According to a confidential memo, any behavior that is “offensive and without legal justification” can land a traveler on the list, as can any “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening.” Anyone who has ever “loitered” near a checkpoint could also make the list. So could any woman who pushes a screener’s hands away from her breasts.
The memo would be more accurate if it stated that anyone who fails to unquestioningly submit to all the TSA’s demands would be found guilty of insubordination. As an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Hugh Handeyside, told the Washington Post, the policy gives the agency wide latitude to “blacklist people arbitrarily and essentially punish them for asserting their rights.” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-New Jersey) expressed similar worry.
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