SA officials were summoned to Capitol Hill Wednesday and Thursday afternoon following Globe reports on the secret program, which sparked sharp criticism because it includes extensive surveillance of domestic fliers who are not suspected of a crime or listed on any terrorist watch list.
“Quiet Skies is the very definition of Big Brother,” Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee, said broadly about the program. “American travelers deserve to have their privacy and civil rights protected even 30,000 feet in the air.”
The teams document whether passengers fidget, use a computer, or have a “cold penetrating stare,” among other behaviors, according to agency documents.
All US citizens who enter the country from abroad are screened via Quiet Skies. Passengers may be selected through a broad, undisclosed set of criteria for enhanced surveillance by a team of air marshals on subsequent domestic flights, according to agency documents.
Dozens of air marshals told the Globe the “special mission coverage” seems to test the limits of the law, and is a waste of time and resources. Several said surveillance teams had been assigned to follow people who appeared to pose no threat — a working flight attendant, a businesswoman, a fellow law enforcement officer — and to document their actions in-flight and through airports.
The officials said about 5,000 US citizens had been closely monitored since March and none of them were deemed suspicious or merited further scrutiny, according to people with direct knowledge of the Thursday meeting.
Didn’t the TSA learn anything from the no-fly lists not working in the first place?!