You Still Can Choose

The TSA (And Other Experiments In Evil)

By corbettreport

In 1961, a psychologist conducted an experiment demonstrating how ordinary men and women could be induced to inflict torture on complete strangers merely because an authority figure had ordered them to do so.

In 2001, the United States government formed the Transportation Security Administration to subject hundreds of millions of air travelers to increasingly humiliating and invasive searches and pat downs.

These two phenomena are not as disconnected as they may seem. Join us today on The Corbett Report as we explore The TSA (and other experiments in evil).



DisQUIETing Skies

Image: Passengers stand in line outside a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint

A surveillance program that monitors Americans on domestic flights, even if they are not suspected of a crime or having ties to terrorism, is being questioned by civil liberties advocates.

“The whole thing is just absurd on so many levels,” said Hugh Handeyside, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

The program — dubbed “Quiet Skies” by the Transportation Security Administration — has been in existence since 2010 but was disclosed for the first time this past weekend by The Boston Globe.

The Globe said “Quiet Skies” tracks U.S. citizens who have been flagged to the TSA based on their affiliations or travel histories. One businesswoman who had recently traveled to Turkey, for example, was tracked.

If a passenger is selected for such secret tracking, a federal air marshal monitors him or her during the flight. The air marshal notes in a “behavior checklist” whether the individual slept, shaved or changed clothes mid-flight, or boarded last, among other criteria. The air marshal also takes note of whether the passenger has a “cold penetrating stare” or is fidgeting, the Globe reported.

The data is then sent to the TSA, although it’s not clear what happens to the information afterwards.

In a statement to NBC News, the TSA described “Quiet Skies” as a “practical method of keeping another act of terrorism from occurring at 30,000 feet.” It compared it to other common practices in law enforcement, like stationing a police officer in an area vulnerable to crime.

“They haven’t demonstrated any need for it or whether it’s effective.”

But legal experts slammed the program.

“They haven’t demonstrated any need for it or whether it’s effective,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program, noting that the TSA has yet to reveal whether “Quiet Skies” has stopped any security threats. “We certainly need to have more information, but I think the concerns that they are profiling are pretty high.”

Patel said every aspect of the program poses concerns: how the TSA chooses which passengers to track; what data the TSA is collecting; and then what becomes of the data. Keeping such information may be a violation of the Privacy Act, a federal law that governs how personal identifiers are collected and used.

“As far as I know, this data collection hasn’t been specifically authorized by Congress, and even if it was, they would have to publish a notice that they’re collecting this information and keeping it in a database — which we haven’t seen at all,” she said.

“Quiet Skies” also raises questions of whether the TSA has continued to use passenger-screening methods that were discredited more than a year ago.

Last February, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized another behavior detection program that the TSA had been using to flag certain travelers for additional inspection, finding it to be unscientific and rife with racial and religious profiling.

Some American travelers tracked in ‘Quiet Skies’ government surveillance program


“A lot of those behaviors reflect what may be consistent with stress or anxiety, and if they’re looking for stress or anxiety in an airport, they’ll find it,” he said.

The surveillance has also received criticism from within the TSA, according to the Globe, which reported that multiple unnamed air marshals felt the work was time-consuming, costly and a distraction from more important law enforcement work.

John Casaretti, president of the Air Marshal Association, the federal air marshals’ union, echoed that.

“The American public would be better served if these [marshals] were instead assigned to airport screening and check-in areas so that active shooter events can be swiftly ended,” he said in a statement.


Explosive Hairdo’s? TSA Says Yes

Sorry, ma’am, but your hair might contain explosives’: Now TSA agents demand to search woman’s afro


Last updated at 8:33 AM on 21st September 2011

  • An airline passenger who had already been through airport security was left in tears after TSA officers insisted on checking her Afro-style hair in case she was concealing explosives.

Hairdresser Isis Brantley was stopped at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, after she had passed a scanning device.

As she travelled down an escalator, she claims she heard someone yell: ‘Hey you, hey you, ma’am, stop. Stop – the lady with the hair, you.’

'Hiding place': Hairdresser Isis Brantley was forced to undergo a humiliating pat down‘Hiding place’: Hairdresser Isis Brantley was forced to undergo a humiliating pat down

Two TSA agents told her she could not go any further until they checked her hair for explosives, said Miss Brantley, of Dallas, Texas.

Reluctantly she allowed them to do it and the TSA staff patted her hair down right there instead of asking to return to a private area for screening.

‘And so she started patting my hair, and I was in tears at that point,’ Miss Brantley told NBC News. ‘And she was digging in my scalp.’

I was outraged,’ Brantley said. ‘I was humiliated. I was confused.’

After the pat-down, Brantley complained to a TSA supervisor at Hartsfield-Jackson who then apologized to her.

‘She said, “Ma’am, please, I promise you, I’m going to take care of it. I’m so sorry that happened to you,”‘ Miss Brantley said. ‘And I’m like, “OK, that’s weird.”‘

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