(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/30/18) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), today called on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to drop the secret “Quiet Skies” passenger tracking program that the Muslim civil rights organization says may single out law-abiding Muslim travelers for official harassment.
Under that program, which was revealed by the Boston Globe and has been in existence in some form since 2010, teams of federal air marshals track American citizens not suspected of a crime and not under investigation or on a watch list. According to the Globe, the teams “document whether passengers fidget, use a computer, have a ”˜jump’ in their Adam’s apple or a ”˜cold penetrating stare,’ among other behaviors.”
All American citizens who enter the country are automatically screened for inclusion in the surveillance program. Dozens of air marshals have expressed concerns about the program.
In a statement, CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas said:
“The arbitrary surveillance of innocent people at airports guarantees that Muslim passengers will be disproportionately harassed by federal officials based on racial and religious profiling, with no benefit to the traveling public or to our nation’s security.
“This is just the latest example of the federal government’s counterproductive and misguided approach to aviation security. Congress never authorized any agency to actively surveil innocent travelers.
“This program must be dropped and those responsible for this waste of government resources held accountable.”
Abbas noted that CAIR is currently challenging the government’s use of watch lists and other modes of racial and religious profiling in federal courts across the country.
He said CAIR has repeatedly expressed concern about Islamophobic, white supremacist and racist Trump administration policies and appointments.
“Quiet Skies” is reminiscent of a similar TSA program that reportedly became “a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.”
CAIR recently called for the dismissal of a spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who once argued that a Muslim “could never serve” as president of the United States.
The Washington-based civil rights organization also called for the firing of a top Trump administration U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appointee who spread conspiracy theories about then-President Barack Obama and made anti-Muslim comments on social media.
Last month, CAIR applauded the decision by members of the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) to reject President Trump’s nominee for the position of director general to lead the organization because of his history of Islamophobic statements.
CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims, immigrants and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.
Earlier this year, CAIR released its 2018 Civil Rights Report, “Targeted,” which showed a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents against American Muslims from 2016 to 2017, and a 15 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in that same time period.
Community members are being urged to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by going to: https://www.cair.com/report
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
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CONTACT: CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org