'Threatening and Unruly' Travelers Could Be Placed on Secret TSA Watchlist

Have you ever gone through security at the airport and forgot to take your belt off resulting in a loud beep and a pat down from the TSA? Did you fidget or argue with them after they harassed or groped you inappropriately during this pat down? Well then you could be one of the people on the new secret watch list. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has created a new secret watch list to monitor people who are deemed as potential threats at airport checkpoints simply because they have swatted away security screeners’ hands or otherwise appeared unruly during previous screenings. 

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."

You can be placed on the watch list even if they think you look suspicious or if you are seen loitering near a TSA checkpoint. An intent to injure or an actual physical injury done to a screener is not required to be put on the list.  

The watch list cannot be used to prevent passengers from boarding flights and it does not call for an extra screening at security checkpoints. This brings up the question of what the actual purpose of this list is and if it serves a real security purpose. 

Less than 50 names have been put on the list so far. 

During a House homeland security subcommittee hearing, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, Democrat of New Jersey said, 

“T.S.A. has an important job to do, and I want T.S.A. officers to be safe and secure, what I don’t want — what I think no American would want — is an excuse for unfair, secret profiling that doesn’t even offer a chance for people to contest their name appearing on such a list.”

T.S.A. deputy chief counsel Kelly Wheaton said the new list aims to protect airport security screeners from travelers who previously have been demonstrably unruly at, or near, checkpoints. He said screeners were assaulted 34 times last year, up from 26 in 2016.

Photo: Getty Images

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