A new program intended to identify potential terrorists has led to systematic racial profiling at Boston's Logan International Airport, Transportation Security Administration officials told the New York Times.
The new "behavior detection" program has led to a culture in which members of minority groups are far more likely to be stopped and questioned, a group of more than 30 whistleblowers told the Times. One official wrote in an anonymous complaint that the program had devolved from a behavior-based screen to a "racial profiling program."
"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," one officer told the Times.
The TSA has promised to will look into the allegations, saying in a statement provided to the Times that if the claims of widespread racial profiling prove to be accurate it would "take immediate and decisive action to ensure there are consequences to such activity."
Profiling is prohibited under the behavior detection program, the TSA said. The initiative is intended to flag suspicious behavior, like passengers acting nervous or avoiding eye contact, that indicate something is afoot.
But the charges leveled by Logan personnel suggest that it has gone beyond that, with race-bases signifiers like Latinos traveling to Miami or black wearing backwards baseball caps becoming the criteria officers use to single out passengers.