Aug 20 2012

“Back To School” for the TSA

Just in time for the “back to school” crush of 300,000 students returning to classes at Boston-area colleges and Universities, and a week after the New York Times reported complaints by whistleblowers within the TSA and the Massachusetts State Police that the TSA “behavior detection” program at Logan Airport in Boston is functioning as a racial profiling program, the Times reports that the TSA says it’s going to send all its Logan staff to special classes about racial profiling.

The four-hour class for all TSA staff at Logan will cover “why racial profiling is not acceptable and why  it is not an effective way to spot terrorists.” Does that mean that racial profiling would be acceptable to the TSA if it were deemed “effective”?

“Officers [i.e. TSA checkpoint staff, who aren’t actually law enforcement officers despite the title] stationed at more than 100 airports will have to take an online refresher course to reinforce that racial/ethnic profiling will not be tolerated,” the Times also reports.

(Those commenters who suggest the best multiple-choice questions and answers for this online class will get extra credit on their “risk assessment” score.)

First we had online “driving school” to reeducate alcoholics. Now we have an online “groping and grabbing” school to re-educate racist bigots. Is this really going to solve the problems with the TSA?

Frankly, we think the best way to “reinforce that racial/ethnic profiling will not be tolerated” would be not to tolerate it, rather than to pay to send the perpetrators back to school at the TSA’s and the taxpayers’ time and expense. Fire them, fine them, and hold them personally liable for damages to those they detain and assault.

At least one victim of racial profiling by Mass. State Police, African-American civil rights lawyer King Downing, has already received damages from the officers involved after a Federal jury found that his rights were violated when he was detained at Logan in 2003, according to the Boston Globe. That’s good, but it’s obvious that neither Mass. State Police Troop F nor the TSA have learned their lesson yet.

There are two main reasons why we think that “retraining” isn’t sufficient and, in fact, misses the point:

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