Racial profiling rampant at Logan airport

Aug. 12, 2012 at 8:36 PM
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BOSTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Officers from a federal counter-terrorism "behavior detection" program at Boston's Logan Airport say the program has become rife with racial profiling.

About 32 officers at Logan provided Transportation Security Administration officials with written complaints last month about alleged racial profiling within the TSA program that is meant to spot mannerisms of potential terrorists, The New York Times reported.

The officers said as many as 80 percent of passengers searched by trained behavioral "assessors" at Logan are stopped not because they are acting suspiciously, but because of the color of their skin.

"The behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but it is a racial profiling program," one officer wrote in an anonymous complaint obtained by The Times.

"They just pull aside anyone who they don't like the way they look -- if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic," said another officer.

A TSA spokesman said in a statement that officials recently learned of the racial profiling allegations in Boston.

"If any of these claims prove accurate, we will take immediate and decisive action to ensure there are consequences to such activity," the statement said, adding that the behavior detection program "in no way encourages or tolerates profiling" and bans targeting passengers based on nationality, race, ethnicity or religion.

TSA defended the program's overall value, saying behavior detection "is clearly an effective means of identifying people engaged in activity that may threaten the security of the passengers and the airports and has become a very effective intelligence tool, enabling law enforcement to bust larger operations and track any trends in nefarious activity."

An investigation into the claims has been initiated, TSA officials said.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan airport, will review the findings of the TSA investigation, said David S. Mackey, executive director of the agency.

"There is no place for racial profiling in any security program," Mackey said. "It is illegal, and it is not effective."

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