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TSA deploys airport behavior screeners
AP on Yahoo ^ | 4/4/08 | David B. Caruso - ap

Posted on 04/04/2008 3:21:34 PM PDT by NormsRevenge

NEW YORK - To the untrained eye, the man looked like any other traveler as he waited in line at Kennedy Airport. But something about the way he was acting caught the attention of two security screeners.

For 16 minutes, they questioned him, scanned every inch of his body twice with a metal-detecting wand and emptied his carry-on bag onto a table. Out came a car stereo with wires dangling from it.

The man was eventually found to have done nothing wrong — he said he had pulled the stereo out of his car because he was afraid it would get stolen — and he was sent on his way.

But it's the type of scene that has been unfolding on a regular basis over the past four years at the nation's major airports under a rapidly expanding "behavior detection" program set up by the Transportation Security Administration to spot terrorists or other dangerous air travelers by way of subtle clues in the way they act.

The agency's efforts drew attention this week when screeners trained in behavior detection in Orlando arrested an Army veteran after he tried to check luggage containing pipe bomb-making materials onto a flight to Jamaica.

But that collar was something of a rarity. In the four years since the program was launched, the TSA has yet to encounter any would-be suicide bombers. The most common catches have been people carrying fake IDs.

Of the more than 104,000 air travelers who were plucked out of security lines and subjected to a more intense level of screening because of something suspicious in their demeanor, fewer than 700 were ultimately arrested, officials said.

Many more — about 9,300 — revealed something during the screening process that caused the TSA to call in law enforcement for a more thorough investigation.

About half of those passengers weren't suspected of any particular crime, but behaved suspiciously enough that screeners thought police should be called anyway. More than half of the other referrals involved people carrying fraudulent documents, the TSA said. A small percentage involved drugs, contraband currency, immigration violations, or discoveries that a passenger was wanted by police.

Dubbed the SPOT program, for Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques, the effort is shrouded in some secrecy that makes it difficult to evaluate its worth.

TSA officials refuse to say exactly what sort of behavior can make them suspicious, but part of the effort relies on watching for fleeting facial expressions that indicate a person is under stress and has something to hide. Behavior agents also casually question people about where they are headed and look for clues in their responses.

Federal officials said the program, which requested a $45 million budget this year, is a worthwhile complement to random searches and an alternative to racial profiling.

But the program has its doubters.

Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union said the TSA has released too little information about its behavioral analysis techniques to assess whether the program works, or is "just for show."

"Whether this is anything more than profiling under another name, we don't know," he said.

The TSA began experimenting with behavior agents in Boston nearly five years ago, in part because of the perceived success of a similar program in Israel.

Today, a variety of security consultants offer training in various methods of deception detection, including University of California-San Francisco professor Paul Ekman and Rafi Ron, former security director at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Most passengers who are pulled aside for extra questioning and a search of their carry-on luggage are allowed to continue to their flights, and almost none are ever told why they were stopped.

Unlike police officers, who do not have the right to stop someone without cause on the street, TSA agents are legally allowed to thoroughly search someone trying to board a plane and interrogate them at length, even if there is no evidence they have broken any law. Homeland Security officials are pleased enough with the results that they plan to increase the number of behavioral detection officers substantially in the coming months. Today, there are about 1,200 of the agents at 70 large airports. That number is expected to double to 2,400 at 160 airports by September, and grow to 4,000 by mid-2009.

Michigan State University professor Timothy Levine, who studies deception detection, said scientists are split over whether it is possible to train people to recognize terrorist operatives or nervous criminals by observing their demeanor.

"I'm a skeptic," Levine said. "There are a lot of reasons for people to be emotional or aroused, other than deception. Especially at airports."

He said his own research has suggested that people do commonly offer up behavioral clues when they are trying to hide something. "But they aren't big. They are subtle and they vary tremendously, by situation, people and context," he said.

Levine added, though, that the program might still be worth a shot.

"Maybe it wouldn't catch the smooth operative," he said. But even a poorly trained agent, he said, might have luck catching someone like "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

The TSA invited The Associated Press to Kennedy Airport late last month to watch two of its agents, James Rivera and Pat Marcoux, at work.

The pair said that, over the years, they have grabbed people trying to carry huge amounts of currency through customs without reporting it, and seen all manner of strange items stashed in people's luggage, including a book infested with roaches.

"There's always a reason why you're exhibiting that behavior that catches our attention," Rivera said. "Maybe it's just because you're having problems at home."

It is difficult, even while watching behavior detection officers work, to assess just what type of behavior triggers their interest. Their style seemed deliberately low-key.

Working quietly in tandem, Rivera and Marcoux stopped one pair of smiling young men after they passed through the metal detectors and chatted them up for about 10 minutes while they searched their luggage. They were eventually allowed to continue to their plane.

The man with the car radio was singled out for tougher screening before he had even put his bag on the belt for the X-ray machine. But Rivera and Marcoux would not say what raised their suspicions.

Besides scanning him with a wand, and running hands along the outside of his legs to check for weapons, the agents handled his clothing, flipped through a book in his bag and questioned him about the purpose of his trip.

In the end, agents got answers that explained why the man had seemed out of sorts. They learned that he was traveling to the Dominican Republic to visit a wife he hadn't seen in a year and was a little anxious about the trip.

They checked his ID and let him go. He left with a handshake and a smile.

After all, Marcoux said, "there is a customer service aspect to the job."

"People are stressed enough already. They don't need us to escalate the situation," Rivera said.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Government; War on Terror; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: airlinesecurity; airport; behavior; deploys; gwot; profiling; screeners; tsa

1 posted on 04/04/2008 3:21:35 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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just behave..

or else.


2 posted on 04/04/2008 3:22:44 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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Of the more than 104,000 air travelers who were plucked out of security lines and subjected to a more intense level of screening because of something suspicious in their demeanor, fewer than 700 were ultimately arrested, officials said.

Many more — about 9,300 — revealed something during the screening process that caused the TSA to call in law enforcement for a more thorough investigation.

If you get pulled aside and get asked who shot JFK, don’t say anything. :-)


3 posted on 04/04/2008 3:24:20 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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This is a handout image from the Seminole County, Florida Sheriff's Office of Kevin Brown who was arrested Tuesday April 1, 2008 at the Orlando International Airport carrying materials in his luggage that could have been used for an explosive device, the FBI said. A search of his luggage revealed two galvanized pipes, end caps, two small containers carrying BBs, batteries, two containers with an unknown liquid, and bomb making literature, according to an FBI statement. Brown, a Jamaican national, planned to board a flight to Jamaica. (AP Photo/HO)


4 posted on 04/04/2008 3:27:49 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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To: NormsRevenge
If you get pulled aside and get asked who shot JFK, don’t say anything. :-)

Somebody shot Kerry?

5 posted on 04/04/2008 3:30:44 PM PDT by sionnsar (trad-anglican.faithweb.com |Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: NormsRevenge

“For 16 minutes, they questioned him, scanned every inch of his body twice with a metal-detecting wand and emptied his carry-on bag onto a table. Out came a car stereo with wires dangling from it. “

They brag about that??? Sounds like a total failure! “Custoemr service”??? Getting harrassed is “customer service”??

We seriously need to abolish the TSA.


6 posted on 04/04/2008 3:32:24 PM PDT by CodeToad
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To: NormsRevenge

Yep.


7 posted on 04/04/2008 3:32:33 PM PDT by Cindy
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To: NormsRevenge
TSA deploys airport behavior screeners

It's about time. The last airport I was at was a TOTAL bitch!!!

8 posted on 04/04/2008 3:35:03 PM PDT by Onelifetogive (This is an Obama-nation!)
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To: NormsRevenge

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7AWw7t5zj0

TSA Gangstaz

[Explicit Lyrics!]


9 posted on 04/04/2008 3:35:57 PM PDT by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: NormsRevenge
Whether this is anything more than profiling under another name, we don't know

Yes, it's called profiling, and it works; ask the Israeli screeners at El Al.

10 posted on 04/04/2008 3:35:57 PM PDT by Gideon7
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To: Cindy

Put him and Naomi Campbell in coach next to each other in a bulkhead row. explosive-types attract I hear.. they’d make a lovely couple. ;-)


11 posted on 04/04/2008 3:36:39 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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To: NormsRevenge

This is interesting, but yeah there’s gonna be a lot of whining about “profiling”. Which is the whole point isn’t it? Back-assward liberal squeaky wheel logic.

In March 2002 while getting ready to board a flight from JFK to New Orleans, some morons were in line behind me joking around because of the line for screening.

At some point in their comedy routine (they apparently thought they were entertaining everyone in line) one asked me if I’d “do him a favor and carry his bomb on board for him, he could just slip it into my backpack.”

Everyone stopped talking and stared, it was one of those moments like that commercial “Well my broker is EF Hutton and he says.. “

I just said “Did you know you’ve just committed a felony?” (which may or may not have been the truth, I don’t know, at the time.)

They laughed and snorted and carried on.

When I got up to the screeners, they asked me if I’d left my luggage unattended or if anyone asked me to carry any packages on board for them, and I said “Just this clown in line behind me.” They probably don’t hear replies like that often, so I told them what happened.

For whatever reason, subterranean IQ notwithstanding, that asshat did not board my flight that day. But don’t we wish it would always be this easy to pick the idiots out? sheesh.


12 posted on 04/04/2008 3:42:24 PM PDT by Dominnae (When asked by a Persian emissary for his weapons, King Leonidas said "Come and take them.")
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To: NormsRevenge

Why Norm, that sounds like a behavior-targeting scenario.

The alphabets should use that as a practice situation.

Smiling...


13 posted on 04/04/2008 3:44:28 PM PDT by Cindy
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To: NormsRevenge
While there maybe something to the SPOT techniques, I have a sneaking suspicion there's more of “I don't like this guys look, lets shake him down and see what happens” going on than anything else.

Afterwards, they can always say “He fit the behavioral profile.” if their fishing expedition doesn't turn up anything.

Win/Win for the TSAstapo, who's going to be able to argue?

14 posted on 04/04/2008 3:47:20 PM PDT by Dr.Zoidberg (Mohammedanism - Bringing you only the best of the 6th century for fourteen hundred years.)
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To: NormsRevenge

About ten years ago I broke my back and had to use a cane for a couple of years. If I stand too long my back screams at me. The last few times I have flown I’ve brought along my cane. The cane, and my looking like the 62-year-old broad that I am usually gets me moved to the front of the line.

I’m not flying anymore. Just too stressful. They might see a look on my face that they think is suspicious, and all it really is is the fact that I’ve stood there so long I’m about to pee my pants. Heheheh.


15 posted on 04/04/2008 3:51:16 PM PDT by EggsAckley
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To: NormsRevenge
We should have profiling. The Israelis know how weed out potential terrorists. On the hand, the TSA still treats every one as equal even though its a waste of resources and time. We all know how the Left would react if profiling was ever introduced in the United States.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

16 posted on 04/04/2008 3:52:10 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: CarrotAndStick

hilarious!


17 posted on 04/04/2008 3:56:07 PM PDT by robomatik ((wine plug: renascentvineyards.com cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and merlot))
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To: NormsRevenge
About half of those passengers weren't suspected of any particular crime, but behaved suspiciously enough that screeners thought police should be called anyway.

Land of the free...

18 posted on 04/04/2008 3:57:07 PM PDT by LambSlave
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To: CodeToad
>>>We seriously need to abolish the TSA.<<<

Be my guest and fly with unchecked fellow passangers. I won't be on the plane.

What this article indicates is that TSA if finally learning. Behavioral profiling is used by El Al and a number of European airlines. They have very good records of keeping jihadi types and nutcases (really no difference) off planes. Far more effective than having everyone take their shoes off.

One of the most effective I have witnessed was British Air at Heathrow: the screeners questioned us thre seperate times in the waiting area...each time coming back as if they had forgot to ask something....each time with a second screener looking at you while the first questioned, actually more like conversed with you.

It was plesant, non threatening, but I felt they "knew me" and my lady friend pretty well before we got on the flight.

Another time - in Seattle, a secondary screener pulled a 7 inch butcher knife out of a womans purse at the gate. She had gotten through the concourse screening just fine.

You can look at as harassment. But it will just make you mad. Look at it as doing your part in fighting terrorism - you might feel better.

19 posted on 04/04/2008 3:57:12 PM PDT by HardStarboard (Take No Prisoners - We're Out Of Qurans)
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To: NormsRevenge
"The most common catches have been people carrying fake IDs."

PhotobucketPhotobucket

"He looks okay... let him though."

20 posted on 04/04/2008 3:59:17 PM PDT by Cobra64 (www.BulletBras.net)
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To: NormsRevenge

Aren’t those numbers great? Around nine percent of the people these idiots plucked out of line had the police called on them. Somewhere around 0.68% of them were arrested. Anotherwords you treat 104,000 people like terrorists, call the police on 9,300 people of of those only 700 are eventually arrested. I wonder how many of those 700 were actually arrested for violations related to a threat to the airlines. My guess is that this wonderful program actually amounts to nothing more than a warrantless search, background check, and fishing expedition.


21 posted on 04/04/2008 3:59:30 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (McCain is rock solid on SCOTUS judicial appointments. He voted for Ginsberg, Kennedy and Souter.)
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To: CarrotAndStick

That Rap-Crap loses all credibility with adults.


22 posted on 04/04/2008 4:03:25 PM PDT by Cobra64 (www.BulletBras.net)
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To: NormsRevenge

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xARiFIew8Ao


23 posted on 04/04/2008 4:03:35 PM PDT by Temple Drake (quem timebo?)
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To: NormsRevenge

Okay Norm, but don’t you think this guy was stopped at the X-ray machines rather than by some group of behavioral sociologists? I could be wrong, but this sounds like a classic case of bait and switch.


24 posted on 04/04/2008 4:04:51 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (McCain is rock solid on SCOTUS judicial appointments. He voted for Ginsberg, Kennedy and Souter.)
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To: Dominnae

Moral of the story. Adults don’t carry back packs.


25 posted on 04/04/2008 4:06:35 PM PDT by Cobra64 (www.BulletBras.net)
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To: Dr.Zoidberg

“She’s a witch. Burn her!”


26 posted on 04/04/2008 4:11:58 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (NO.. I don;t tag sarcasm)
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To: EggsAckley

I used to fly quite a bit,, can’t say I miss it much. I’ll keep an eye out for these folks at the airports , we’re doing a canal run shortly.

Ouch on the back, I guess you can’t split 4 cords of wood a season anymore. :-)


27 posted on 04/04/2008 4:22:43 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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To: DoughtyOne

My guess is that this wonderful program actually amounts to nothing more than a warrantless search, background check, and fishing expedition.

emphasis on the fishing, yup ... but they have the license to do it..


28 posted on 04/04/2008 4:24:07 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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To: CodeToad
We seriously need to abolish the TSA.

Can't. It's a government agency. It'll live forever.

29 posted on 04/04/2008 4:26:07 PM PDT by COBOL2Java ("McCain is a war hero. He's also a useful idiot for the Democrats." - Mark Levin)
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To: NormsRevenge
TSA officials refuse to say exactly what sort of behavior can make them suspicious,

Today the TSA, tomorrow the traffic cop stop.

30 posted on 04/04/2008 4:26:34 PM PDT by TLI ( ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
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To: NormsRevenge
It's like this. If you refuse to do what is the simplest and most logical thing,, than everything else you do is moronic.

They may as well get a mystic out there with a forked stick!

No, no ,of course we can never engage in true terrorist profiling. No of course not. No,, we're going to go get some Harvard expert that developed some new revolutionary system of determining suspicious behavior in individuals by the number of times they blink divided by their height while secretly measuring the radius of their forehead with hidden scanners! This is insane!

31 posted on 04/04/2008 4:26:34 PM PDT by freemike
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To: Gideon7

Amen!


32 posted on 04/04/2008 4:31:11 PM PDT by Recon Dad (Marine Spec Ops Dad)
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To: Cobra64

Cobra64 wrote: Moral of the story. Adults don’t carry back packs.

Baha speak for yourself. I won’t travel without one!

I’m not a “tiny purse” kinda gal. Wallet, book, various girl-stuff, and one change of clothes if checked bag stalls somewhere.

But then again I’m not a shifty-eyed-sweaty nervous-twitchy kinda person.

I think.

I hope.

O.o


33 posted on 04/04/2008 4:48:14 PM PDT by Dominnae (When asked by a Persian emissary for his weapons, King Leonidas said "Come and take them.")
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To: NormsRevenge
That flopping sound you hear is George Orwell turning over in his grave.

This amounts to thought police. And they're not very good.

34 posted on 04/04/2008 5:13:07 PM PDT by upchuck (Who wins doesn't matter. They're all liberals. Spend your time and money to take back Congress.)
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To: HardStarboard

“Be my guest and fly with unchecked fellow passangers. I”

You already are in that those illegal aliens working your plane are not checked nor are the contents of what they carry onto the plane. You can go ahead and believe that being strip earched at the front door means there are no threats at the rear door if that makes you comfy, but it has absolutely no affect. Prior to 9/11 we were told security at airports was adequate and you believe that now.


35 posted on 04/04/2008 9:44:19 PM PDT by CodeToad
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To: NormsRevenge
"...emphasis on the fishing..."

As in Catch and Release?

36 posted on 04/05/2008 12:33:56 AM PDT by OnRightOnLeftCoast (I'm Republican because I don't qualify for welfare)
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To: NormsRevenge
I think the Democrats are going to hire some of these SPOT screeners to try to find Operation Chaos cross-over voters in the upcoming Democrat primaries.

-PJ

37 posted on 04/05/2008 12:38:31 AM PDT by Political Junkie Too (Repeal the 17th amendment -- it's the "Fairness Doctrine" for Congress!)
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To: HardStarboard

I’ve sat in Frankfurt to catch a half-dozen flights since 9-11. The amount of eye contact that the security folks use...is double and triple than before. They are looking for any hint of a lie...and if so...then you get a stronger second presence to ask more questions. Bogus passports? Very doubtful unless you are trying use a 3rd world like Sri Lanka or Peru passport...because they really check out the passport and look for anything out of the ordinary.

The TSA crew in comparison? They don’t measure up. They are not as capable or comparable. Is TSA improving? That I might agree to....but then you see a bunch of cop-wannabes in uniform...and you start to laugh at the demand of absolute respect. I’m waiting for the TSA guys to freak out on some Marines traveling through a airport...and the TSA guys get tossed to the ground and disarmed.


38 posted on 04/05/2008 1:07:56 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: sionnsar
Somebody shot Kerry?

Well he has a purple heart. He was in Vietnam you know......
39 posted on 04/05/2008 8:24:40 AM PDT by festus (Fred Thompson '08)
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