Category Archives: TSA

TSA spent $1 bln on ‘body language’ program

TSA spent 1 bln on body language program TSA spent $1 bln on body language program

After investing $1 billion in behavior detection techniques and training since 2007, the Transportation Security Administration has little to show for its efforts, the New York Times stated in a new report.
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According to the newspaper, critics of the TSA’s attempt to read body language claim there’s no evidence to suggest the agency has been able to link chosen passengers to anything beyond carrying drugs or holding undeclared currency, much less a terrorist attack. In fact, a review of numerous studies seems to suggest that even those trained to look for various tics are no more capable of identifying liars than normal individuals.

“The common-sense notion that liars betray themselves through body language appears to be little more than a cultural fiction,” Maria Hartwig, a psychologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, told the Times.

The TSA’s body language program has also been critiqued by the Government Accountability Office, which found it to be ineffective and recommended cutting its funding going forward. As RT reported last year, its conclusion was that human ability to read body language was “the same as or slightly better than chance.”

“Available evidence does not support whether behavioral indicators, which are used in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program, can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security,” the GAO report read.

Through a review of various studies dating back over the last 60 years, researchers found that people were only able to pick out liars 47 percent of the time, while attempts to identify people who told the truth were more successful at 61 percent. With an average rate of 54 percent, however, the methods could not be considered effective, especially when accuracy rates fell further in cases where an individual had to rely only on body language – and could not, for example, hear someone speak.

The GAO also disputed the TSA’s claim that its procedures helped single out high-risk passengers more effectively than random screening. Out of more than 30,000 passengers highlighted every year by behavior detection methods, the GAO found that less than one percent were arrested. None of the arrests were in connection to terror plots.

According to Dr. Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, people in general tend to overinflate their perceived ability to read another person’s body language.

“When you’re lying or cheating, you know it and feel guilty, and it feels to you as if your emotions must be leaking out through your body language,” he said to the Times. “You have an illusion that your emotions are more transparent than they actually are, and so you assume others are more transparent than they actually are, too.”

Source: RT

Cancer victim humiliated by TSA agents at checkpoint

TSA humiliates cancer victim Cancer victim humiliated by TSA agents at checkpoint

The Transportation Security Administration is being criticized yet again, this time for embarrassing a cancer victim by proclaiming his incontinence issues to other travelers and strip-searching him before allowing the man to proceed.
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The incident was detailed in an anonymous blog post on CafeMom.com, where the man’s wife claimed a TSA agent yelled that her husband was “wearing a diaper.” Another agent then reportedly laughed at the situation before escorting the man into another room for an inspection.

The husband, who suffers from an overactive bladder linked to his battle with prostate cancer, was originally passing through an airport security checkpoint when a TSA agent stopped him.

“After he emerged from the scanner the TSA officer (a female) asked if he was carrying liquids in his clothing,” the post reads. “He explained his condition and what had happened. In the past, it was embarrassing enough for him to just tell a TSA employee that [he] was wearing an adult incontinence garment but now he was also announcing that he had wet himself.)

“She called over to another (male) officer (the boss, I guess) and explained the situation to him out loud in front of everyone else still going through the line. The problem was he did not understand what an “incontinence product” was when she told him. Myself, [the husband], and the female TSA employee tried explaining a few times before the woman finally just shouted ‘ HE IS WEARING A DIAPER’ which caused pretty much everyone to turn and stare at us (smaller airport so not that many people).”

At this point, the male TSA agent “snickered” and told the couple that the husband would need to be inspected more thoroughly. The man was reportedly subjected to a pat-down and told to drop his pants when they noticed “suspicious padding” around his waist.

“After finally seeing the diaper, one of the officers said that he would need to ‘change out of it’ to ‘clear the issue,’” the wife wrote. “He got his spare brief out of my carry-on, a female officer came up and gave him a large Ziploc bag and they left the room while he changed. She returned, collected the bag with the wet brief and went off for about 5 minutes.”

Although the couple was soon cleared and most of the TSA officers were apologetic about the inspection, the wife called the incident “quite possibly one of the most embarrassing times” in their life, noting her husband cried afterwards.

Over the years, the TSA has come under intense scrutiny for its behavior during airport security screenings. In 2012, RT reported an agent forced a terminally ill leukemia patient to remove her bandages in public for a pat-down and search, during which one of her saline bags as damaged. That same year, the agency apologized for searching an elderly woman’s colostomy bag, which violated standard procedure.

Before these incidents, the TSA also made waves in 2010 for making a cancer survivor remove her prosthetic breast and show it to an agent during an inspection.

Source: RT

‘Useless’ TSA scanners provided endless fodder for employees, former agent alleges

tsa aware body scanners useless1 Useless TSA scanners provided endless fodder for employees, former agent alleges

The Transportation Security Agency was aware that, before they were even introduced, the full-body scanners used at airport security checkpoints were flawed, according to a former TSA agent who alleges employees regularly peered and laughed at travelers.
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Jason Edward Harrington, who spent years for the TSA as he studied for a creative writing degree, wrote a long piece in Politico detailing the ineptitude and casual jokes that often came at the expense of the agency’s own inability to prevent an airplane hijacking.

The TSA decided to begin using full-body scanners in 2010, after an Al-Qaeda extremist tried to ignite a bomb in his underwear on a Christmas Day 2009 flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The reaction was overwhelming and immediate, with civil liberties advocates asserting that a potential traveler would unnecessarily expose themselves to TSA agents, and that the radiation from the machines was dangerous.

Despite controversy, the agency pressed on an eventually doled out between $130,000 and $170,000 for each of the hundreds of machines in an effort to ramp up security at airports across the country.

We knew the full-body scanners didn’t work before they were even installed,” Harrington wrote in the article published Thursday. He went on to describe how a trainer described the machines as “shit” and said that they could be subverted if a would-be hijacker simply wore metal on the side of their body.

We quickly found out the trainer was not kidding,” he continued. “Officers discovered that the machines were good at detecting just about everything besides cleverly hidden explosives and guns. The only thing more absurd how how poorly the full-body scanners performed was the incredible amount of time the machines wasted for everyone.”

The problem evidently went uncorrected even after the public caught on. A blogger named Jonathan Corbett attracted millions of views to his YouTube page by proving its possible to simply place a gun sideways on one’s leg to bring it through security undetected.

Finally, the public had a hint of what my colleagues and I already knew,” he wrote. “The scanners were useless. The TSA was compelling toddlers, pregnant women, cancer survivors – everyone – to stand inside radiation machines that didn’t work…behind closed doors, supervisors instructed us to begin patting down the sides of every fifth passenger as a clumsy workaround to the scanners’ embarrassing vulnerability.”

Harrington is not the only TSA employee to complain about his time with the agency, with employee happiness ranked at or near the bottom of all government agencies polled in annual job satisfaction surveys. The full-body scanners made the day more cumbersome, Harrington noted, while the Image Operator (IO) room quickly turning into a place where bored employees could find a laugh.

Just as the long-suffering American public waiting on those security lines suspected, jokes about the passengers ran rampant among my colleagues: Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display,” he wrote.

Piercings of every kind were visible…One of us in the IO room would occasionally identify a passenger as female, only to have the officers out on the checkpoint floor radio back that it was actually a man. All the old, crass stereotypes about race and genitalia size thrived on our secure government radio channels.”