4/1/14 TSA Coin Flip

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Twenty years ago the post office was the example of what’s wrong with government.  Big.  Bloated. Costing billions.  With poor service.

Today, it’s the Transportation Security Administration.  65,000 employees.  It’s cost about $75 billion [more than $60 billion through 2012 and nearly $8 billion each year for 2013 and 2014].  And TSA has not caught one terrorist. Not one hijacking has been foiled.

But TSA agents –“ by the thousands –“ have been involved in everything from sexual assaults to murder plots.  Dealing drugs.  And stealing passenger valuables.  It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

[TSA has also been identified as a major security risk when it comes to safeguarding the personal data of passengers.]

Consider this example of wasted manpower and money.  TSA has spent more than one billion dollars on 3,000 behavioral detection officers.  BDOs are the screeners who supposedly identify potential terrorists by observing body language.

[The formal name of TSA’s behavioral detection program is the “Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique” or SPOT program.  Behavioral detection officers are supposed to identify high-risk passengers using behavioral indicators.]

In seven years [according to this GAO report], 0.6% of passengers identified by BDOs led to an arrest.  Not one arrest was terrorism-related.  99.4% of the passengers were innocent travelers unnecessarily delayed getting to their flights.

[GAO has issued four reports (first report, second report, third report & fourth report) documenting that the TSA’™s behavioral detection program does not work.  More on TSA’s BDO program is here.]

There’™s more.  The Government Accountability Office examined more than 400 studies of behavioral detection.  400!

Behavioral detection techniques are no better than this.  The 50-50 probability of flipping a coin.  Instead of spending one billion dollars, TSA could have screeners merely flip a quarter to decide who gets the full Monty.
 
The postal service may have its problems.  But at least its employees don’™t jam their hands down your pants and accuse you of being a national security threat.

It’™s time to disband the TSA.

[You may read more on this topic here.]

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