TSA rolling out new ‘behavior detection officers’ in 'SPOT' program

Party Rooster

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TSA rolling out new ‘behavior detection officers’

Published: 12:04 AM 08/03/2011
Updated: 6:58 PM 08/03/2011

Passengers flying through Boston’s Logan International Airport will notice the security screeners are chattier than usual, but it’s not an improved customer service policy.

On Tuesday the Transportation Security Administration began a test-run at Logan of its SPOT program, which stands for Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques. SPOT uses trained screeners known as Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs) to determine if passengers are a threat, based on their reactions to a set of routine questions.

“The vast majority of passengers will experience a casual greeting conversation with the BDO as they go through identity verification,” a TSA spokesperson said. “A small portion of passengers may get selected for an extended, but still limited conversation.”

According to the Boston Herald, the BDOs 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 minute facial cues that may indicate deception or malicious intent.

Since its creation in 2007, TSA’s SPOT program has grown almost fifteen-fold. As of May 2010, about 3,000 BDOs were deployed at 161 airports nationwide at an annual cost of more than $200 million.

So far, after three years of operation and almost $1 billion spent, SPOT has never been scientifically proven effective and has never caught one actual terrorist.

TSA said it will evaluate the pilot program at Logan and its impact on security and screening operations to determine how the agency will proceed. (RELATED: LaHood urges Congress to pass FAA funding extension)

According to information provided by TSA to Nature magazine, BDOs referred more than 232,000 people for secondary screening during the SPOT program’s first phase, from January 2006 through to November 2009. Secondary screening involves closer inspection of bags and testing for explosives.

The vast majority of those subjected to extra inspection continued with no further delays. But 1,710 were arrested, which the TSA points to as evidence of the program’s effectiveness.

In other words, less than 1 percent of referrals lead to an arrest. And most arrests were for criminal activity, such as outstanding warrants or illegal citizenship status. One man was arrested in 2008 after BDOs stopped him at Orlando International Airport while he was carrying explosive components. In 2007 TSA stopped another man who was carrying a loaded handgun at Baltimore-Washington International.

But whether SPOT’s behavioral analysis techniques are actually effective — or simply playing the odds — has never been independently confirmed.

TSA said it is currently working on “an independent and comprehensive review of the ongoing SPOT study to be conducted in support of and in collaboration with the TSA SPOT program.”

“The assessment includes input from other federal agencies with expertise in behavior detection and relevant subject matter experts,” a TSA spokesperson said. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, he added, “is working with TSA to present the SPOT validation project to an independent panel of experts, produce a report summarizing the panel’s recommendations and implement pertinent suggestions.”

But TSA has been criticized for trying validate its program after the fact. In a two-year review of the program released in 2010, the Government Accountability Office knocked TSA for deploying SPOT “without first validating the scientific basis for identifying suspicious passengers in an airport environment.”

The GAO found SPOT was more effective than random screening at catching individuals with fraudulent documents, but noted that additional work is needed to fully validate the program. The Department of Homeland Security’s own internal study was not designed to validate whether behavior detection can be used to reliably identify security risks.

The SPOT program is based partially on the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, a pioneer in the field of behavioral analysis. Elkman’s specific expertise centers on identifying minute facial cues — so-called “micro-expressions” — that indicate a person may be lying. In addition to consulting with the TSA, Ekman has worked with the CIA, FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Other psychologists, however, have been critical of Ekman’s work. A 2007 study conducted by a committee of credibility-assessment experts concluded: “Simply put, people (including professional lie-catchers with extensive experience of assessing veracity) would achieve similar hit rates if they flipped a coin.”

Nevertheless, Ekman has taught about 1,000 TSA screeners and continues to consult on the program.

The methodology used in SPOT has never been subjected to controlled scientific tests. Part of the problem is that Ekman and the TSA haven’t disclosed the specific cues used to identify potential threats, citing security reasons. In fact, Ekman has largely stopped publishing, saying he doesn’t want to provide any help to terrorists trying to game the system.

The SPOT program has drawn comparisons with, and is indeed modeled on, Israeli airport security. Israel has the strictest airport security procedures in the world, involving intense screening and passenger interrogation. But there is a massive difference in scale between the transportation systems of Israel and the United States.

Israel’s only major international airport, Ben Gurion International, handled 12 million passengers in 2010. By comparison, U.S. airports handled about 619 million airline passengers in 2010 — more than 66 million at Chicago’s O’Hare International alone.

In any case, SPOT is only growing. For fiscal year 2011, the Obama administration requested $232 million for the program.

http://dailycaller.com/2011/08/03/i...ew-behavior-detection-officers/#ixzz1UC8Q6Jpm
Seems like a shitload of money for barely any payoff...
 

the Streif

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#3
I wonder how many 80 year old white female terrorists in wheel chairs will get "enhanced interviews" compared to the turban and burqa wearing "passengers".
 

NuttyJim

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Feb 18, 2006
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#9
I'd scrap the program as is and use military counter-surveillance to spot unusual behavior in airports. Those guys who do the real in depth CSU are hardcore. I'd also use military EOD to train these fuckers what to really look for and what they're really seeing as either individual component parts or whole IEDs.
 

NuttyJim

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Feb 18, 2006
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#10
We can't all live in make believe land where government never lies and loves you.
Too bad I don't live in a world like yours where I live in my moms basement, wear a tin foil hat, and listen to conspiracy rants 12 hours a day.
 
Oct 8, 2005
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#11
Too bad I don't live in a world like yours where truth triumphs propaganda.

fixed and yes its too bad. One day you will be marched into a gas chamber and the person behind you will warn you not to go in but you will call him a CT and tell him there is a party in the gas chamber and its full of presents.
 

NuttyJim

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Feb 18, 2006
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#12
fixed and yes its too bad. One day you will be marched into a gas chamber and the person behind you will warn you not to go in but you will call him a CT and tell him there is a party in the gas chamber and its full of presents.
What is life like living being fucking brainwashed by morons and actually believing the garbage that comes out of their mouths? Keep on believing there is a big bad global conspiracy. You're not smart, you're a sucker.
 
Oct 8, 2005
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#13
What is life like living being fucking brainwashed by morons and actually believing the garbage that comes out of their mouths? Keep on believing there is a big bad global conspiracy. You're not smart, you're a sucker.

What is life like living being fucking brainwashed by morons and actually believing the garbage that comes out of their mouths? Keep on believing there are no people in the world that want to control the planet. You're not smart, you're a sucker.

History is nothing but powerful men trying to control as much of the planet as they can but for some reason you think people have evolved past nature.
 

NuttyJim

Registered User
Feb 18, 2006
14,021
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#14
What is life like living being fucking brainwashed by morons and actually believing the garbage that comes out of their mouths? Keep on believing there are no people in the world that want to control the planet. You're not smart, you're a sucker.

History is nothing but powerful men trying to control as much of the planet as they can but for some reason you think people have evolved past nature.
You know what, you're right. You got me totally convinced. Where can I get my survival seeds, silver (which will be the new currency of the future), my ballistic and fire proof motorcycle jacket, and finally my neoprene, fluoride and aspartame free info wars filtered water bottle. FOOL!
 
Oct 8, 2005
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#15
You know what, you're right. You got me totally convinced. Where can I get my survival seeds, silver (which will be the new currency of the future), my ballistic and fire proof motorcycle jacket, and finally my neoprene, fluoride and aspartame free info wars filtered water bottle. FOOL!
In fantasy land

Fidel Castro--Founder of Communist Cuba, Castro took power (1959-2008) through a revolution. He transferred power to his brother in 2008. The Castro brothers ruled through force and have driven hundreds of thousands of people to flee Cuba for a better life in the United States. Castro involved Cuba in multiple wars and revolutions throughout Latin America and Africa.

Raul Castro--Became leader of Cuba (2008-Present) upon the illness of his brother, Fidel Castro. Raul worked with Fidel to establish their Communist dictatorship and to suppress basic freedoms for the Cuban people.

Nicolae Ceausescu--Communist dictator of Rumania (1965-1989). Ruled on the Stalinist model and through a cult of personality. Considered one of the more ruthless Communist rulers in Eastern Europe. Ceausescu was overthrown and executed in a national uprising in 1989.

Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier --Haitian dictator (1971-1986). Baby Doc Duvalier assumed leadership in Haiti following the death of his father, Papa Doc Duvalier. The younger Duvalier fled Haiti following a popular uprising in 1986.

François "Papa Doc" Duvalier--Haitian dictator (1957-1971). Upon his death, his son became ruler of Haiti.

Francisco Franco-Dictator of Spain (1939-1975) who took power after a long and bloody civil war.

Muamar el-Gadhafi--(1969-Present)--Eccentric, crazy, and increasingly desperate dictator of Libya. Also spelled Khaddafy, Qaddafi, Gaddafi.

Adolf Hitler--Nazi dictator of Germany (1933-1945) who originally took office through the German electoral system but quickly threw out the constitution and ruled through force. Responsible for millions of deaths by starting the European portion of World War Two and thorugh the Holocaust, which was an attempt to destroy all Jews in Europe.

Saddam Hussein--Dictator of Iraq (1979-2003). Committed genocidal acts against minority Kurds and Shiites in Iraq, began the Iraq-Iran War, the Gulf War by invading Kuwait, and was finally overthrown in the U.S.-led invasion generally known as the Iraq War.

Mao Zedong (also spelled Mao Tse-tung)-Founder and ruler of Communist China (1949-1976), Mao led the Chinese Communist Party through a very long civil war, which he won in 1949, and founded the People's Republic of China. Mao's rule included several purges and bloody repression, inlcuding the so-called Cultural Revolution, which resulted in millions of deaths of people considered to be threats to Communist Party rule. Mao also involved China in the Korean War, hostilities with Taiwan, the invasion and occupation of Tibet, a border war with India, border clashes with the Soviet Union, and significant support for the communist side in both the Indochina War and the followup Vietnam War.

Benito Mussolini--Ruler of Italy (1922-1943). Took power through the threat of force and dominated Italy as a Fascist dictator until forced from power as a result of World War Two.

Augusto Pinochet--Dictator of Chile (1973-1990). Seized power in a very bloody military coup in 1973, in which the elected president was overthrown and killed. Pinochet is one of the very few dicators who voluntarily gave up power.

Joseph Stalin--Soviet dictaor (1924-1953). Set up the first Communist cult of personality. Responsible for the deaths of millions in his purges and genocidal policies against his political opponents.

Kim Il-Sung--Founder of Communist North Korea. Ruled (1948-1994) on the Stalinist model and set up a cult of personality. Passed power on to his son in the first hereditary transfer of power in a Communist system.

Kim Jong-Il--Communist dictator of North Korea (1994-Present). Inherited power from his father. May be setting up one of his sons to inherit the country upon his passing. Under the younger Kim, North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and engaged in dangerous nuclear diplomacy with the U.S. and neighboring nations, and has engaged in occassional military skirmishes with South Korea.

Josip Broz Tito--Founder and leader of Communist Yugoslavia (1945-1980), Tito led Yugoslavia out of Soviet domination and established himself as an independent Communist leader outside of Soviet or Chinese domination. Tito kept Yugoslavia's bickering ethnic groups under control, and after his death in 1980, the country began to unravel, finally disintigrating in the Yugoslav Civil War which literally destroyed the nation.
These people never existed, it was all a crazy conspiracy theory. In fantasy land history has been nothing but loving governments and rulers that save the people from all their demons. In fantasy land the bankers at Goldman Sachs are good Americans that are trying to make life better for all of us.
 

Psychopath

Plata O Plomo
Dec 28, 2008
17,717
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#17
In fantasy land



These people never existed, it was all a crazy conspiracy theory. In fantasy land history has been nothing but loving governments and rulers that save the people from all their demons. In fantasy land the bankers at Goldman Sachs are good Americans that are trying to make life better for all of us.
Oh look, a list of name that has nothing to do with anything.
 

Falldog

Wackbag's Best Conservative
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#18
I was going to make a Lie to Me reference until I just now found out that FOX canceled the show back in May. What the fuck, how did I not know?! I'm going go cry angrily into a pillow.
 

whiskeyguy

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I was going to make a Lie to Me reference until I just now found out that FOX canceled the show back in May. What the fuck, how did I not know?! I'm going go cry angrily into a pillow.
Did that show get any better? I stopped watching about half-way into Season 1... just didn't seem to have much potential.

Probably a stupid question seeing as though they canceled it.
 

Falldog

Wackbag's Best Conservative
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#20
Did that show get any better? I stopped watching about half-way into Season 1... just didn't seem to have much potential.

Probably a stupid question seeing as though they canceled it.
That show was awesome. I hate you.

But it definitely found its footing once they decided what to do with Loker's character. Tim Roth was awesome.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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#21
That show was awesome. I hate you.

But it definitely found its footing once they decided what to do with Loker's character. Tim Roth was awesome.
Maybe I'll give it another shot on Netflix or something. I really did like the concept, but the show started with a lot of redundancy and no real character development.
 

Falldog

Wackbag's Best Conservative
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May 16, 2007
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#22
Maybe I'll give it another shot on Netflix or something. I really did like the concept, but the show started with a lot of redundancy and no real character development.
Definitely do, though season three isn't up yet. Everyone gets a lot of development, aside from Loker. The tension/attraction between Cal and Foster is way better than on Bones, plus his daughter and the FBI guy really rounded out the cast.
 

Hoffman

Guess who's back? Hoffman's back
Sep 28, 2006
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#24
This was a crazy conspiracy theory a year ago.
Dude, you often cite Israel's security standards as one we need to copy. For the record, I'm not saying I agree with what TSA is doing here, but...

The SPOT program has drawn comparisons with, and is indeed modeled on, Israeli airport security
So stop just once talking out both sides of your asshole.