Rep. Bill Keating, D-Bourne, the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, is calling for a Subcommittee Hearing to investigate the accusations of racial profiling at Boston Logan International Airport.
According to a report by the New York Times, an airport program intended to spot telltale mannerisms of potential terrorists is apparently instead targeting not only people of Middle Eastern descent, but also blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities.
In interviews and internal complaints, officers from the Transportation Security Administration’s “behavior detection” program at Logan International Airport in Boston asserted that passengers who fit certain profiles — Hispanics traveling to Miami, for instance, 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, who along with four others spoke with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity.
The T.S.A. said on Friday that it had opened an investigation into the claims.
"There is no place for racial or ethnic profiling in our security policies, period," said Rep. Keating. "These are serious accusations that urgently need to be investigated. Last year, there was a Congressional Subcommittee Field Hearing at Logan, which highlighted that the airport’s security policies are some of the best in the country. If TSA officers, however, have evidence of racial profiling, this needs to be addressed immediately since the Logan program is the vanguard and model for the entire country.
"The behavioral detection program if implemented properly offers another level of security that technological screening cannot. However, if the program is skewed by racial profiling, it is not only illegal; it undercuts the effectiveness of the program itself.
"It has been reported that the TSA is investigating these claims, but in matters of civil rights being violated, the investigation shouldn't be left to the agency itself."
Rep. Keating has also sent a formal letter to the Subcommittee’s Chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul, requesting a hearing on this issue as soon as Congress reconvenes in September.
From a release from Congressman Bill Keating's office and a report by The New York Times