# FAMS Quiet Skies

Agencies other than the NSA have implemented surveillance programs, such as the U.S. Air Marshals' Quiet Skies program. A 2018 article in the Boston Globe by Jana Winter exposed the U.S. Federal Air Marshals Service’s (FAMS) Quiet Skies program, which often surveilled travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base [sic].”

The program has a broad mandate to investigate and neutralize unknown threats to commercial aircraft. Marshals within the program told Winter that “the program has them tasked with shadowing travelers who appear to pose no real threat,” documenting when suspects used a computer, changed clothes, slept during the flight, or performed other mundane tasks.

The Air Marshals target 40-50 domestic passengers every day, and marshals surveilled around 35 of those passengers. Marshals state that “the program wastes taxpayer dollars and makes the country less safe because attention and resources are diverted away from legitimate, potential threats.”

The Air Marshal Association, representing the views of the Air Marshals with the government agency, stated that it believes “the Quiet Skies program does not meet the criteria [for Marshal flight scheduling and placement] we find acceptable” (Winter 2018).

Although the Air Marshal’s program is related to human, and not signals, intelligence, it is widely recognized by those in the program as ineffective.

An internal TSA/FAMS memo outlining the Quiet Skies program
An internal TSA/FAMS memo outlining the Quiet Skies program. [1]

# Sources

  1. Winter, Jana. “Welcome to the Quiet Skies.” The Boston Globe, July 28, 2018. https://apps.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/graphics/2018/07/tsa-quiet-skies (opens new window).