TSA Accused of Racial Profiling in Boston

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The Transportation Security Administration has launched an investigation after claims of racial profiling minorities because of their appearance.

More than 30 TSA officers at Boston's Logan Airport accused the agency of targeting Middle Eastern travelers as well as others who fit certain "profiles," like Hispanics traveling to Miami or blacks wearing their baseball caps backward.

According to a New York Times report, the workers cited colleagues who targeted minorities in hopes that the stops would lead to drug busts.

"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 spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity.

The officers also claimed the stops were a direct result of pressure from management to increase searches and criminal referrals.

TSA officials have denied the charges but said a full investigation is underway.

"[The program] in no way encourages or tolerates profiling," a TSA spokesman said in a statement, adding that passengers cannot be subjected to behavior assessments based on their nationality, race, ethnicity, or religion.

"If any of these claims prove accurate, we will take immediate and decisive action to ensure there are consequences to such activity," the statement continued.

The airport's behavior detection program is intended to allow officers to stop, search, and question passengers who seem suspicious.

Specially trained "assessors" observe security lines for unusual activity and speak individually with each passenger, looking for inconsistencies in the passenger's responses or strange behavior.

Passengers considered suspicious can be taken aside for more intensive questioning.

The program has been billed as a model for other airports across the country.

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