The TSA has had employees roaming the airports watching passengers, using their spidey senses to figure out who might be a terrorist.
Four years ago the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General concluded that the TSA’s behavior detection efforts didn’t work and racially profiled. I’ve argued that TSA literally has no science in its files to support its efforts. Now the government agrees.
Indeed the ‘checklist’ they use considers criticism of the TSA to be a sign you’re a terrorist.
The Government Accountability Office analyzed the TSA Behavior Detection Program and there’s really no clearer way to put it than how the GAO puts it themselves. It’s hard to imagine government bureaucrats even writing this so soberly.
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not have valid evidence that most of the revised behavioral indicators (28 of 36) used in its behavior detection activities can be used to identify individuals who may pose a threat to aviation security.
..In GAO’s review of all 178 sources TSA cited as support for its revised list, GAO found that 98 percent (175 of 178) of the sources do not provide valid evidence that is applicable to the specific behavioral indicators TSA cited them as supporting.
..Seventy-seven percent of the sources TSA cited (137 of 178) are news articles, opinion pieces, presentations created by law enforcement entities and industry groups, and screen shots of online medical websites that do not meet GAO’s definition of valid evidence.
..[Only e]leven percent of the sources TSA cited (20 of 178) are original research sources reporting original data and methods. However, 5 of these sources do not meet generally accepted research standards. Of the 15 sources that meet generally accepted research standards, 12 do not present information and conclusions that are applicable to the specific behavioral indicators TSA cited these sources as supporting.
In total, GAO found that 3 of the 178 total sources cited could be used as valid evidence to support 8 of the 36 behavioral indicators in TSA’s revised list. More specifically, TSA has one source of valid evidence to support each of 7 indicators, 2 sources of valid evidence to support 1 indicator, and does not have valid evidence to support 28 behavioral indicators.
The TSA considers op-eds and news articles to be scientific evidence. Nearly everything they’re doing to pick out who they think might be a terrorist is built on no science whatsoever. Yet “GAO makes no new recommendations in this report.”
I’ve argued that the same government agency should not be both regulating security policy and carrying out security screening. That’s one key benefit of using private contractors at the checkpoint. The rest of the world does better with private screeners.
Sounds like there are still a ‘few bad apples’ at TSA who in no way reflect the good work thousands of others do to protect our nation day in and day out.
(HT: Daniel P.)