The public just found out about a top secret list maintained by TSA, perhaps more secret and subjective than the classified lists maintained by the FBI. TSA is making a list of passengers they consider jerks. Is a list too far?
According to a USA Today story, the agency has been maintaining this list for three years.
Am I irritated by this discover or surprised? Irritated, yes, and surprised, no. I look at the list as a testament to how well-behaved the American flying public is while being subjected to the current version of security theater and being searched.
After three years of clandestinely collecting names of jerks in the air, TSA has a total number of 240 names. So, with about 800 million passengers moving through U.S. airports each year, having only 240 TSA-certified jerks is amazing. I think that comes out to .00003 percent.
Now, or course, there is the question about what the heck is TSA doing collecting this kind of minimal information? And from privacy advocates it raises serious questions, like what other kinds of secret databases are being kept of airline passengers?
According to TSA, this is only a form of self defense.
The database was created in late 2007 as the TSA launched a program to prevent the nation’s 50,000 airport screeners from being attacked or threatened, agency spokeswoman Kristin Lee said. At the time, TSA officials voiced concern about passengers disrespecting screeners, and they began issuing new uniforms with police-style badges pinned to shirts.
However, of the 240 incidents that have been collected on this no-jerk list, “only 30 incidents involve people such as passengers or airport workers attacking or threatening screeners.”
What, you might ask, is the TSA definition of a jerk? According a TSA report the following reasons for recording names, names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, home addresses and phone numbers of people.
Incidents in the database include threats, bullying or verbal abuse, remarks about death or violence, brandishing a real or fake weapon, intentionally scaring workers or excessive displays of anger such as punching a wall or kicking equipment, the report says.
But nothing is carved in stone when it comes to this database and who might find themselves listed. I’m not even sure why it is maintained. It is strange that TSA doesn’t maintain any kind of list of what passengers have repeat secondary screenings, but would keep a list of passengers that irritate them.
Photo by Leocha