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TSA agents at the security checkpoint at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

"Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior," reports Jana Winter, a Boston Globe Spotlight fellow.

Why it matters: Some air marshals say it's "a time-consuming and costly assignment...which saps their ability to do more vital law enforcement work."

The details: "The previously undisclosed program, called 'Quiet Skies,' specifically targets travelers who 'are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,' according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March."

It has drawn criticism from air marshals who have to carry it out.

  • "[S]ome air marshals, in interviews and internal communications shared with the Globe, say the program has them tasked with shadowing travelers who appear to pose no real threat — a businesswoman who happened to have traveled through [Turkey] ... a Southwest Airlines flight attendant [who was on duty] ... a fellow federal law enforcement officer."
  • One air marshal messaged another: “jeez we need to have an easy way to document this nonsense. Congress needs to know that it’s gone from bad to worse.”

Go deeper

25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

Progressives pressure Schumer to end filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

A progressive coalition is pressuring Chuck Schumer on his home turf by running a digital billboard in Times Square urging the new majority leader to end the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Schumer is up for re-election in 2o22 and could face a challenger, and he's also spearheading his party's broader effort to hold onto its narrow congressional majorities.

5 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.