Hawzah News Agency (Washington DC, US) – A leading American Muslim civil rights group has called on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to drop the secret “Quiet Skies” passenger tracking program, amid fears the program may be used to single out Muslim travelers.
“The arbitrary surveillance of innocent people at airports guarantees that Muslim passengers will be disproportionately harassed by federal officials based on racial and religious profiling, with no benefit to the traveling public or to our nation’s security,” Gadeir Abbas, Senior Litigation Attorney of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement published.
“This is just the latest example of the federal government’s counterproductive and misguided approach to aviation security. Congress never authorized any agency to actively surveil innocent travelers.
“This program must be dropped and those responsible for this waste of government resources held accountable.”
Under that program, which was revealed by the Boston Globe and has been in existence in some form since 2010, teams of federal air marshals track American citizens not suspected of a crime and not under investigation or on a watch list.
According to the Globe, the teams “document whether passengers fidget, use a computer, have a ‘jump’ in their Adam’s apple or a ‘cold penetrating stare,’ among other behaviors.”
All American citizens who enter the country are automatically screened for inclusion in the surveillance program. Dozens of air marshals have expressed concerns about the program.
“The Department of Homeland security has a history of racial profiling,” Dawud Walid, Executive Director at the Michigan branch of CAIR, a Muslim civil rights organization, told.
“We’re not going to be looking at or targeting ordinary Americans, we’re going to be looking at people like Dawud Walid, [or] like someone else who has an Arabic or Muslim background. That’s what that sounds like to me,” said Walid.