The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has created a watch list of people who act unruly and combative at airport checkpoints, according to an unsealed directive reviewed May 17 by the New York Times.

TSA claims the list, which allegedly includes less than 50 individuals, will alert security officers in advance when certain passengers attempt to fly out of a given airport. People included in the list are not barred from travel or subjected to additional screening, according to the agency.

At a hearing May 17 at the House Committee on Homeland Security, TSA assistant administrator-security operations Darby LaJoye defended the list as a necessary tool to address a growing number of confrontational passengers.

“We were seeing an alarming increase in the number of assaults against our officers,” LaJoye said. “It is simply a means to communicate that a passenger may be arriving at an airport who has demonstrated a history of assaulting officers or trying to circumvent security procedure.”

Rep. Bill Keating (D-Massachusetts) argued during questioning that the agency and public would be better served if people on the list were made aware by TSA. Those included on the list have not been informed and have no avenue to appeal, according to the agency.

“I think it would be more effective as a deterrent if these people knew they were on the list, especially if the goal is to affect behavior,” Keating said, adding: “There also should be a way to appeal, in case this is a subjective determination.”

In response to an inquiry from ATW’s sister publication Aviation Week, TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said: “In FY 2017, there were more than 34 assaults on TSA officers. TSA is committed to its people and wants to ensure there are safeguards in place to protect TSA officers and others from any individual who has previously exhibited disruptive or assaultive behavior at a screening checkpoint and is scheduled to fly. A privacy impact assessment was published prior to establishing this list.”

Ben Goldstein, Ben.Goldstein@informa.com