The Secret “Quite Skies” TSA Program

By Carol Sanger
On TSA
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The federal government’s Quite Skies program was a secret… until the Boston Globe broke the story. The TSA Program that tracks U.S. citizen air travelers is causing an uproar. Here’s what you need to know.

The Boston Globe recently broke a story about federal air marshals tracking American citizens not suspected of a crime, not under investigation, or who are not on any terrorist watch list.
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.
The internal bulletin describes the program’s goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft “posed by unknown or partially known terrorists,” and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.
The internal bulletin describes the program’s goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft “posed by unknown or partially known terrorists,” and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.
Some air marshals call the process a time-consuming and costly assignment, which saps their ability to do more vital law enforcement work.
TSA officials, in a written statement to the Globe, broadly defended the agency’s efforts to deter potential acts of terror. But the agency declined to discuss whether Quiet Skies has intercepted any threats, or even to confirm that the program exists.
According to a report at MassLive.com, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston, urged House Republicans this week to hold a bipartisan oversight hearing on the Transportation Security Administration’s “Quiet Skies” program, in which undercover federal air marshals reportedly conduct surveillance on American air travelers.

Lawmakers demand answers on ‘Quiet Skies’ surveillance program after the Globe report, and met with top Transportation Security Administration officials who agreed Monday to brief Congress this week on a secret domestic surveillance program in which federal air marshals track ordinary US citizens at airports and on airplanes.

“Quiet Skies” program, documents whether air travelers chatted with others, appeared sweaty or fidgety, or exhibited other actions — all behaviors that are normal when traveling.

Quiet Skies Boston Globe

Senator Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, questioned the program in a letter Monday: “I am troubled by reports that the TSA is tracking US citizens who are not suspected of any crime and then monitoring seemingly innocuous behavior such as whether a person slept on their plane, used the bathroom, or obtained a rental car.”

The TSA plans to meet with the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees, as well as the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Oversight Committee. Markey serves on the Commerce Committee.

Read the full Quiet Skies report and explore the behaviors checklist.

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Source: Boston Globe


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