Washington: More than 30 American federal officers in an airport program, who were assigned to spot the mannerisms of potential terrorists, have claimed that the operation has become a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.
Officers from the Transportation Security Administration's "behavior detection" program at Logan International Airport in Boston, US, asserted that passengers who fit certain profiles, such as Hispanics traveling to Miami, or blacks wearing baseball caps backward, are much more likely to be stopped, searched and questioned for "suspicious" behavior.
"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," the New York Times quoted a white officer, as saying, on the condition of anonymity.
The T.S.A. said that it had opened an investigation into the claims.
Some officers said the practice has become so prevalent that Massachusetts State Police officials have asked why minority members appear to make up an overwhelming number of the cases that the airport refers to them.
"The behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but it is a racial profiling program" another officer said.
The agency emphasized that the behavior detection program "in no way encourages or tolerates profiling" and bans singling out passengers based on nationality, race, ethnicity or religion.