Truth to Power

TSA behavior detection: “a sham”

TSA’s ‘behavior detection’ leads to few arrests

WASHINGTON – Fewer than 1% of airline passengers singled out at airports for suspicious behavior are arrested, Transportation Security Administration figures show, raising complaints that too many innocent people are stopped.

A TSA program launched in early 2006 that looks for terrorists using a controversial surveillance method has led to more than 160,000 people in airports receiving scrutiny, such as a pat-down search or a brief interview. That has resulted in 1,266 arrests, often on charges of carrying drugs or fake IDs, the TSA said.

The TSA program trains screeners to become “behavior detection officers” who patrol terminals and checkpoints looking for travelers who act oddly or appear to answer questions suspiciously.

Critics say the number of arrests is small and indicates the program is flawed.

“That’s an awful lot of people being pulled aside and inconvenienced,” said Carnegie Mellon scientist Stephen Fienberg, who studied the TSA program and other counterterrorism efforts. “I think it’s a sham. We have no evidence it works.”</em>

True, as far as its stated intention goes, this program is an utter failure- as is most anything else our government touches. But if you interviewed a majority of passengers, even when confronted with the 1% figure, they would consider the program vital- because someone is doing something. Since your security is largely your own business- based on decisions you make- all the government can do is provide the illusion of safety. But to a nation with the illusion of an economy, and its mythical war on ….(you fill in the blank), illusion is what we’re accustomed to, and its by god what we’re gonna get.


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