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TSA says it will dial back controversial passenger monitoring program

Questions remain about a controversial program that monitors American travelers who are not on any terror wa...

Posted: Dec 18, 2018 11:18 AM
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 11:18 AM

Questions remain about a controversial program that monitors American travelers who are not on any terror watchlists nor are suspected of terrorism or criminal behavior, despite changes the Transportation Security Administration has made to how it tracks them.

Marshals will continue to follow and monitor those they identify as persons of interest, but they are changing the threshold for reporting their observations to intelligence agencies, according to TSA.

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If an individual does nothing notable on the flight, the marshal will no longer send what they call an after action report, the agency said.

The vague purpose and guidelines sparked criticism of the Quiet Skies program after it was revealed by The Boston Globe earlier this year. Armed undercover air marshals monitor "whether travelers use a phone, go to the bathroom, chat with others, or change clothes," the Globe reported, citing interviews and internal documents.

Over the weekend, the paper first reported the changes to the program.

The TSA responded by defending Quiet Skies, telling CNN it "has evolved."

"The only change to the program has been in the reporting mechanism," the agency said.

Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who's a critic of the program, said Monday that he is "pleased that TSA is now scaling back its collection of personal information about innocent Americans and their behavior."

"However, I continue to have concerns about the effectiveness and invasiveness of this program," Markey said.

Critics of the program said the secrecy raises the potential of targeting people based on their races or nationalities. The TSA has said that is not the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union said after the program was revealed that it raises "a host of disturbing questions."

In addition to constitutional concerns, "federal law enforcement shouldn't be tracking and monitoring travelers and then logging detailed information about them without any basis to believe that they've done anything wrong," ACLU attorney Hugh Handeyside wrote in July.

"The safety and security of travelers continues to be the number one focus of TSA; Quiet Skies continues to add another layer of security to achieve that mission," spokeswoman Jenny Burke said Monday in a statement. She said the agency "continually assesses every measure, making adjustments to optimize effectiveness or address evolving threats."

In August, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security announced it would review the program.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3554629

Reported Deaths: 51395
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118754221106
Riverside2891853749
San Bernardino2853342673
Orange2603483889
San Diego2589823260
Santa Clara1098411765
Kern102627811
Fresno947941412
Sacramento929441464
Alameda800881224
Ventura77238834
San Joaquin665691082
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus55775944
Tulare47784746
Monterey42138327
San Mateo38763515
San Francisco34061398
Santa Barbara31763407
Solano29968164
Merced28915395
Sonoma27954298
Imperial26843589
Kings21951218
Placer19713231
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15390209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12760185
Shasta10944174
Butte10915160
El Dorado9095100
Napa897668
Sutter884597
San Benito574359
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Tuolumne394659
Nevada393274
Mendocino379643
Amador344441
Humboldt316033
Lake313440
Glenn221023
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128736
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3947
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
Chico
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 63°
Oroville
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 64° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Chico
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 63°
Red Bluff
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62° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 62°
Red Bluff
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 62°
Chico
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 63°
It was a bright and breezy Friday for northern California, however the wind has been much stronger over Modoc County where a High Wind Warning is in effect through this evening. Stronger wind and cooler air will define our weather Saturday.
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