Pekoske told CBS News – in his first TV interview since the controversial program was revealed a month ago – that a dragnet surveillance program like Quiet Skies <em>“makes an awful lot of sense.”</em>
Under the program, Federal air marshals are assigned to spot potential threats based on a list of shockingly common behavioral traits.
Observing the boarding area from afar, excessive fidgeting, exaggerated emotions, going to the bathroom, sweaty palms, strong body odor, staring into space, face touching, using a computer on the flight, and ‘having a cold penetrating stare’ are all considered suspicious behaviors by the TSA.
“Our job overall as an agency, and the air marshals in particular, in flight, are working to make sure that we mitigate any risks that could occur in aircraft,” the agency chief explained. “If an agency responsible for security has some information that might indicate that there may be — emphasis on may be — more risk with a particular passenger, providing some mitigation or some risk management on the flight is a very important and very reassuring thing to me.”
Quiet Skies dates back to 2011, but was revealed to the public late July. It targets travelers who are neither wanted criminals, nor on any ‘no fly’ lists, but for some reason, are deemed to potentially pose a threat in the sky. This March, the program was expanded, and now assigns teams of air marshals to scan airport crowds and airplane cabins, looking for suspicious behavior.