More than 30 federal officers in an airport program intended to spot telltale mannerisms of potential terrorists call the operation magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, the New York Times reports. Officers from the Transportation Security Administration behavior detection program at Boston’s Logan airport asserted that passengers with profiles like Hispanics traveling to Miami or blacks’ wearing baseball caps backward are much more likely to be stopped, searched, and questioned for “suspicious” behavior.
“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 one white officer. The TSA says it opened an investigation into the claims. The charges by the Boston officers put the TSA in a position of defending itself against charges of profiling in a program billed as a model for airports nationwide. Massachusetts State Police officials have asked why minority members appear to make up an overwhelming number of the cases that the airport refers to them. “The behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but it is a racial profiling program,” one officer wrote. TSA said the program “in no way encourages or tolerates profiling” and bans singling out passengers based on nationality, race, ethnicity, or religion.