11/21/13 TSA SPOT Program


The Transportation Security Administration was created a decade ago.  It’s grown by 400%.  And gets bigger each year.

The new Government Accountability Office report found one element of the TSA doesnt work.  In fact, its the GAOs fourth critical report since 2010.

Its the “Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique.”  Or SPOT program.  Behavioral detection officers are supposed to identify high-risk passengers using behavioral indicators. 

Do passengers appear nervous, fidgety, stressed? Well, of course they do!  Two-thirds of all people are afraid of flying.

Three years ago, the GAO released its first report that found the SPOT program doesnt work. 

TSA responded with its own study claiming it does.

In 2011, GAO’s second report found the TSA study had incorrect data.  And used a flawed methodology.

TSA responded by making its SPOT program bigger.  And more costly.  It now employs more than 3,000 behavioral detection officers at 176 airports at a cost of nearly one billion dollars since 2007.

The GAOs third report found major problems still existed.

In its fourth report, the GAO found that 0.6% of passengers identified by SPOT officers led to an arrest.  Not one of those arrests appears to have been terrorism-related.  99.4% of the passengers were innocent travelers unnecessarily delayed getting to their flights. 

And oh by the way, at Boston’s Logan Airport SPOT officers targeted blacks and Hispanics.

TSA’s SPOT program is a billion dollar guessing game.

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