The next time you trudge through airport security, keep your shit together. The TSA has a secret list of misbehaving passengers, learned, and it does not take much to get on it.
According to a five-page directive obtained by The Times, actions that can land a passenger on the list include: loitering suspiciously near a security checkpoint, swatting at a TSA officer's hand, having verbal altercations with officers, or generally presenting a challenge to "the safe and effective completion of screening." Vague doesn't even begin to describe it.
And once you're on the list, you can't get off, because you'll have no idea you're on it. The TSA does not notify passengers when they make the list. They also cannot bar travelers from passing through security onto a plane just because they appear on it. The list was created in February and fewer than 50 names appear on it, but that number could be getting higher by the day, The Times reports.
The watch list is intended to keep TSA officers safe from passengers who have been unruly before—screeners were assaulted 34 times last year, a TSA official said. But it is highly controversial. Although passengers cannot be profiled solely on gender, race, or religion, the in that department. Lawmakers are asking for more information on the list, as are government watchdogs who monitor the growth of the surveillance state.
And what if you're having a horrendously bad day and act out in the security line? Does that justify a government agency keeping tabs on you? As an ACLU attorney told , "It just gives officers too much latitude to blacklist people arbitrarily and to essentially punish them for asserting their rights and in doing anything other than complying with officers demands.
Until this all shakes out, have happy, calm flights this Memorial Day weekend and beyond. Or maybe just rent a car.