Are You On TSA’s Secret Watch List?

Despite the long lines, having to take your shoes off and unpack your laptop, (not to mention the random pat-downs) it’s a good idea to be on your best behavior when passing through airport security. Those who do otherwise are being put on a secret Transportation Security Administration list of unruly and disruptive passengers, according to a five-page directive obtained by The New York Times. The newspaper reported that TSA has created the new watch list known as the “95 list” to monitor people who may be potential threats at airport checkpoints. As for what lands one on the list? It can range from simply having swatted away a security screeners’ hands, to loitering suspiciously near a checkpoint or otherwise appearing unruly. The directive targets actions that pose a physical danger to security screeners or any other contact the agency deems offensive and without legal justification. “An intent to injure or cause physical pain is not required, nor is an actual physical injury,” according to the directive issued by Darby LaJoye, the agency’s assistant administrator for security operations

The Good News

Created in February, less than 50 people’s names have been added to the list. The good news is that the list cannot be used to prevent passengers from boarding a flight. It also cannot impel extra screening at security checkpoints, according to the document In addition, guidelines in the directive prohibit profiling and inclusion in the list based on race, gender, or religion. “It’s simply an awareness that somebody is going through the checkpoint that has demonstrated concerning, assaultive behavior in the past to our officers,” LaJoye said at a House hearing of the Homeland Security subcommittee last week.

Vague Purpose Of List

The vague purpose of the list, however, has raised red flags among civil liberties groups who wonder whether it has a legitimate security purpose. “If I’m running late, having a bad day and I’m rude to the screeners, do I get put on the list?” Fred Burton, Chief Security Officer at Stratfor, a global intelligence company in Texas, told The New York Times. Burton question the necessity of yet another watch list, particularly from TSA, which is not an intelligence agency. Lawmakers have recently demanded more information about the watch list. They also suggested that the agency notify people who have been added to it. In the meantime, it’s probably best not to let that bad day at work impact your behavior while traveling.