TSA Program Tracked US Citizens Who Weren't Under Investigation

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(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

UPDATE: In a statement to WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the TSA said: 

"The purpose of this program is to ensure passengers and flight crew are protected during air travel. Contrary to the article “Welcome to the Quiet Skies” published by The Boston Globe,” the program doesn’t take into account race and religion, and it is not intended to surveil ordinary Americans. In the world of law enforcement, this program’s core design is no different than putting a police officer on a beat where intelligence and other information presents the need for watch and deterrence. The program analyzes information on a passenger’s travel patterns, and through a system of checks and balances, to include robust oversight, effectively adds an additional line of defense to aviation security. With routine reviews and active management via legal, privacy and civil rights and liberties offices, the program is a practical method of keeping another act of terrorism from occurring at 30,000 feet."

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- A Transportation Security Administration surveillance program is under the microscope after The Boston Globe reported that it tracks information about Americans who aren't suspected of a crime. Under a program dubbed "quiet skies," the TSA has been keeping tabs on U.S. citizens who are not under investigation by any agency and who are not on any terror watch list.

CBS News transportation safety analyst and former NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker explained the goal of the program.

"It was an enhanced kind of a program to look not only for terrorists, but for people that potentially could disrupt the flight and do other things not necessarily related to terror," Rosenker said.

The program, which has existed since 2010, uses Air Marshals to monitor such things as whether passengers fidget, use a computer, or other behaviors. The Globe story says Marshals have reportedly complained about the program not being an effective use of thier time or TSA resources.

In a tweet, the ACLU said that "Such surveillance not only makes no sense, it's a waste of taxpayer money and raises constitutional concerns."

Rosenker, however, doesn't think it's a bad thing.

"These types of behavioral observations on board an aircraft should remain a secret, so that those that wish to do harm can try to break the code on us," he said. "So no, I have no problem with TSA keeping these kinds of behavioral activities secret."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker (@radiobenparker) reports

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