TSA finally speaks out about “Quiet Skies” programme

Posted: 23 August 2018 | | 3 comments

The TSA has been repeatedly criticised about its “Quiet Skies” programme, but now it has finally shed some light amid the speculation…


The TSA has finally responded to reports that government officials were following passengers that were behaving suspiciously through airports across the U.S.

In a blog published on their website, they state that: “If local police department had intelligence that [a] neighbourhood was at an elevated threat for dangerous activity, [people of the community would] want an increased police presence until the threat was gone.

“Federal Air Marshal’s (FMAs) serve in that same capacity in the aviation environment; they are law enforcement officers who use their experience and training to identify things that are out of the ordinary in the aviation environment. Over the years, Federal Air Marshals have used their skills and training to successfully respond to in-flight emergencies and non-terrorist incidents. Their on-board presence has defused dozens of situations that had the potential to escalate, placing the aircraft, crew, and passengers in further danger.”

They continue: ““Quiet Skies” is another tool that allows the Federal Air Marshal Service to more efficiently deploy law enforcement resources to focus on travellers who may present an elevated risk to aviation security.

“Through TSA’s Secure Flight Programme and by leveraging Custom and Border Protection’s Automated Targeting System, TSA’s intelligence professionals develop a set of risk-based, intelligence-driven scenario rules, which allow us to identify international travellers who may require enhanced screening. These rules have strict oversight by the Department of Homeland Security, including the privacy, civil rights and liberties, and general counsel offices.”

The blog disputes that the officials targeted specific “race[s] or religion[s], and [it] does not designate individuals based on their observed behaviours on board an aircraft.  As trained law enforcement officers, Federal Air Marshals observe passengers in accordance with their training. When FAMs are informed that a traveller identified through the intelligence-driven scenario rules will be on a particular flight or in the airport, they are able to observe the traveller in the airport and on the flight. Passengers referred to the program may require additional scrutiny for a certain period of time; however, TSA routinely removes passengers from the program sooner than the prescribed period if we become aware of information that indicates the passengers do not represent a risk.”

3 responses to “TSA finally speaks out about “Quiet Skies” programme”

  1. dog says:

    Leave it to the government to screw up a good idea. Most people believe that the presence of federal air marshals on an aircraft make travel safer. No doubt they can, but then the bureaucrats take charge.

    These air marshals have to file reports. They can’t say nothing happened, even if nothing did. They have to report something; – whether its the man who went to the restroom too many times, or the woman who needed a sweater from her overhead bag, or the man/woman who fell asleep during the flight. That’s bad enough, but then that information is pushed to the terrorist database as suspicious activity.

    Air marshals have to meet quotas for reporting suspicious activity, and failure to meet quota can mean no bonus, no raise , and/or no promotion. So the terrorist database grows and grows, to the delight of the Barney Fifes at Homeland Security and TSA. They look at their mushrooming database and tell Congress of the ever increasing number of suspicious activity reports filed by air marshals, and say: “See! The threat of terrorism is greater than ever!”

  2. B. MacLiam says:

    The very title of “Federal Air Marshal” shows the fallacy and inappropriate nature of this program. Federal AIR Marshals are in place to take care of their assigned mission in the AIR. Extending that mission to allow arbitrary following of people on the ground is mission creep of the highest degree.

    Even worse, it’s potentially dangerous, as local law enforcement agencies are already in place. They KNOW their people, but won’t know the transient FAMs as they do their unfocused following.

    Face it. The Federal Air Marshal Service is overstaffed for their current mission and is simply looking for ways to justify current strength and management numbers. It’s long past time to do a comprehensive review and determine exactly what they need to do their mandated responsibilities. Following that, cut the surplus, don’t look for “make work” assignments at airports that are already patrolled by local cops.

  3. Jeannie Allen says:

    This program has a much wider scope than has been acknowledged. Passengers do not have to travel to questionable countries to be targeted for surveillance. Something as simple as known associations with drug users has also been subject to this program. Individuals who may have associated with drug users but have never been charged with any crime should not be followed while traveling across the country. Nearly everyone knows someone who uses drugs. This is not a valid justification to determine someone is a risk. It’s nothing more than an overreaching law enforcement inching towards a police state. Until enough people become outraged they will continue inching towards their own agenda.

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