Another TSA Miscalculation?

February 3, 2012

The Sikh Coalition has obtained previously unreleased TSA documents.  Written in 2009, these documents show that the agency can pursue several auditing options to weed out racial and religious profiling.  In addition, the authors of the document apparently miscalculated the effectiveness of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines, recommending that TSA determine which auditing option to implement “during the interim period of time it takes to deploy advance[d] passenger screening technologies” and claiming “that advance[d] screening technologies, beyond those deployed [in 2009] will reduce or possibly eliminate perceptive profiling[.]”  As it turns out, Sikhs are still subjected to secondary pat down screenings, even after passing through AIT machines without incident, and other communities continue to report discriminatory treatment by TSA  personnel.  In this context, TSA needs to take its auditing options more seriously.

Internal TSA Documents Exposed by Sikh Coalition





Racial Profiling: The Bigger Picture

March 2, 2010

Racial Profiling Doesn’t Work Says Israeli Airport Security Chief

January 14, 2010

In this National Public Radio piece, Rafi Ron, the former chief for security at Ben Gurion airport argues that racial profiling is not effective. Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv is Israel’s largest airport and has a generally excellent reputation for security.

In the piece, Ron squarely addresses the effectiveness of racial profiling:

“One of the problems with racial profiling is that there is this tendency to believe that this is the silver bullet to solve the problem. In other terms if you are a Middle Easterner or if you are a Muslim you must be bad. If you are a European and Christian, you must be good.

But back in 1972, Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv was supposed to be attacked by a Palestinian. It was never attacked by one. It was attacked by a Japanese terrorist killing 24 people and it was attacked in the mid-80s by a German terrorist with blue eyes and blonde hair answering to the name Miller.” Read the rest of this entry »

Media Coverage of Capitol Hill Briefing on Profiling

January 12, 2010

The Arab American Institute organized an excellent briefing yesterday morning on profiling post-Christmas 2009.

Here’s a news article on the briefing:

During the briefing, the Coalition came out squarely against the new TSA policy singling out nationals of 14 select countries for extra scrutiny regardless of individual criminal culpability:

“Profiling is now the policy of our country. Let’s not mince words,” said Amardeep Singh

The TSA wrongly denied that it was engaging in profiling, stating:

TSA does not profile,” the spokesman added. “As is always the case, TSA security measures are based on threat, not ethnic or religious background.”

Its policy however would indicate that it is profiling. The Coalition will continue to press the TSA on the issue of whether it is engaging in profiling or not. Stay tuned.

(Note my title in the article is incorrect).

Writing to Secretary Napolitano on Profiling

January 9, 2010

The past 24 hours has seen a flurry of letters from social justice organizations to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on the subject of profiling.

In all, the Coalition has authored or joined in submitting three letters or statements directed at Secretary Napolitano over the last day:

1) National Sikh Organizations Letter– The Sikh Coalition authored and asked SALDEF and United Sikhs to join it in submitting a letter the Secretary Napolitano yesterday focused on the concerns of Sikh air travelers;

2) National South Asian Organizations Letter – The Coalition signed on to a statement initiated by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) as part of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, also sent yesterday; and

3) Muslim, South Asian, Arab, Sikh Organizations Letter – The Coalition finally signed a letter to Secretary Napolitano from a large group of Muslim, South Asian, Arab, and Sikh organizations.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will continue to engage the Obama administration on the issue of profling in the nation’s airports.

Capitol Hill Briefing on Profiling at Airports

January 8, 2010

If you live in the DC Metro Area, you are encouraged to attend the following briefing on profiling. The Sikh Coalition will be participating:


Targeting Needles or Adding More Hay?:

Airport Profiling, ‘Countries of Interest’, and American Security

Monday, January 11, 2010
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Room 1334 Longworth HOB

Perspectives and recommendations from experts on national security, civil liberties, and the ethnic American experience, featuring:

  • Michael German, Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Jumana Musa, Policy Director, Rights Working Group (RWG)
  • Amardeep Singh, Director of Programs, Sikh Coalition

Moderated by Dr. James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute

To RSVP for this event, please contact Samia Makhlouf, AAI Government Relations and Policy Analyst, at

Is Technology the Solution to Profiling?

January 8, 2010

As the debate over profiling post-Christmas 2009 rages on, could technology be the solution?

The Washington Post today issued an editorial yesterday endorsing the use of full- body scanners as a means of airport screening. In fact, some countries plan to increase their use of full-body imaging as a method of screening in the future.

What impact will these machines have on the profiling debate? Well it depends… Read the rest of this entry »