The training for the Israeli-style screening — a projected $1 billion national program dubbed Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques — kicks off today at Logan International Airport and will be put to use in Terminal A on Aug. 15. It requires screeners to make quick reads of whether passengers pose a danger or a terror threat based on their reactions to a set of routine questions…
…Under the SPOT program, as passengers hand over their boarding passes and identification, specially trained agents will ask three to four questions — from “Where have you been?” to “Do you have a business card?” and “Where are you traveling?” — while looking for “micro expressions,” such as lack of eye contact, that might hint at nefarious intent.
Suspicious individuals will be pulled aside for more questioning, full-body scans and pat-downs. If the encounter escalates, agents will call in state police.
At Logan, about 70 agents — all with college degrees — are undergoing training by an international consulting firm that includes a four-day classroom course and 24 hours of on-the-job experience, said TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis
Four days of classroom instruction and 24 hours of on-the-job training.
To do psychological evaluations of passengers in a matter of seconds, after three questions.
Now, even if the TSA were competent, and the expensive contractors they had hired to bring passenger evaluation to US airports had any idea what they were doing, the point here is that the Israeli security model doesn’t scale. Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport processes 12 million passengers a year. Orlando handles about 33 million, and that’s not even one of the ten busiest airports in the United States.
When you roll out a project that may work at what would amount to a busy, regional airport in the U.S. (but not even a hub), that has been developed over years, and try to roll it out across a much larger system you wind up with TSA agents — who weren’t hired for their profiling skills — taking a few days of classes and being turned out on the traveling public to decide whose ‘micro expressions’ make them a threat to national security.
This is just silly.