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. And the government agrees.
Indeed the ‘checklist’ they use considers criticism of the TSA to be a sign you’re a terrorist.
Now they’re rolling out behavior detection worldwide. And they’re bringing back other silly ideas as well.
That’s why I even hesitated to put the word security in the title of this post, that’s the word used by the people who put on the farce but the new procedures really do nothing whatsoever to promote security.
Passengers bound for the US are now interrogated as part of the check-in process. This isn’t entirely new, it was in place for Paris Charles de Gaulle earlier in the year. But it’s spread.
- The questions are stupid. Domestically airlines no longer ask us have we packed our bags ourselves and have our bags been outside of our possession because those questions were stupid they never actually assisted in any way with protecting planes or passengers. After enough years even the government figured out those questions didn’t get us anything, and they stopped asking. Now those questions are back, indeed I was asked them myself before being permitted to board a flight from Hong Kong to the U.S. on Saturday.
Here’s the head of the TSA when the questions were eliminated in 2002,
Ticket agents have been required for the last 16 years to ask passengers two questions: “Has anyone unknown to you asked you to carry an item on this flight?” and “Have any of the items you are traveling with been out of your immediate control since the time you packed them?”
The questions are being phased out because they create a hassle and have never prevented a bombing or hijacking, James Loy, head of the Transportation Security Administration, said Wednesday.
“Over the years, they have lost whatever original value they contributed and can now be safely eliminated,” Loy said.
- Behavior detection questions are worse. What did you do on your vacation? What do you do for a living? What do you do when you’re alone with your wife? They don’t care about your answers, they care about how you answer — whether you stammer or stretch to think of a story or whether answers come naturally. But the government already revealed this year that there is absolutely no science behind its behavior detection programs.
Asking what you do when you’re alone with your wife (or perhaps when you’re alone and haven’t seen your wife in awhile) isn’t going to reveal who is or is not a terrorist. It’s going to slow down airports. It’s going to divert resources from activities that actually could improve safety.
However the TSA has also admitted they have essentially no mechanism in place to evaluate relative effectiveness of different security techniques, falling back on “layers of security” to claim that it all matters — when the point is that resources need to be directed to where they make the most difference since we cannot have perfect security. We don’t make everyone fly naked after cavity searches.