4/23/15 Terrorist Indicators

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I’ve long been a critic of the Transportation Security Administration.  Because it represents everything that’s wrong with government.  Big.  Bloated. Costing billions.  With poor service.

The legislation that created TSA federalized the nation’s 28,000 civilian baggage screeners.

[Public Law 107-71 on 11/19/2001; passed 100-0 in the Senate and 410-9 in the House.  One year after its creation, TSA employed 64,000 people, including 45,000 screeners.  It’s cost about $75 billion more than $60 billion through 2012 and nearly $8 billion each year for 2013 and 2014.]

It’s grown beyond that legally-mandated size by engaging in bureaucratic gimmicks. 

[Here is another example illustrating the agency is out of control.  It’s yo-yoed between hiring thousands of new employees and offering separation bonuses and early retirements since 2004 when the agency was only three years old.]

Since 2001, TSA has not caught one terrorist. Not one hijacking has been foiled.

But TSA employees — by the thousands — have been involved in everything from sexual assaults to murder plots.  Dealing drugs.  And stealing passenger valuables

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

Maybe this should be expected since TSA advertises job vacancies on pizza boxes.

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.]


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

In seven years, according to a 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.

We’ve obtained the list of behaviors TSA uses to determine if a passenger is a possible terrorist.  It’s absurd.  Laughable.  Typical behavior such as arriving late to the airport — like that’s never happened; to staring at other passengers; to clock watching are indicators a passenger could be a terrorist and warrants further inspection.

The entire list is on our website.

[There’s more.  The Government Accountability Office examined more than 400 studies of behavioral detection. Behavioral detection techniques are no better than 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.

[Amtrak has an equally absurd list of indicators that supposedly identify “suspicious criminal activity.”  The list is so silly that it likely includes every single person who travels by train.]
 
 [You may read more on this topic here.]


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