Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Innocent People Placed on Terrorist Watch List Just to Meet Homeland Security Quotas and Earn Bonus Pay

The lede from ABC News in Denver:
You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

"Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.
Another key graf:
What kind of impact would it have for a flying individual to be named in an SDR?

"That could have serious impact ... They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious," said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency.
One more:
"To meet this quota, to get their raises, do you think federal air marshals in Las Vegas are making some of this stuff up?" Kovaleski asked.

"I know they are. It's a joke," an air marshal replied.
Even if the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program" were as limited as President Bush claims (only listening to calls if someone who is a terrorist or is suspected of being a terrorist is on the phone), I imagine that being on these air marshal list would also open you up to the NSA listening to your calls without even any secret FISA court warrants. Providing incentives to create mistakes in labeling Americans for suspicion is not a good idea.

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