Monday, March 30, 2015

Leaked doc proves what we’ve been saying for years: TSA is nuts

Everyone's been sending me the article from First Look/The Intercept about the latest "confidential" TSA document. 

Though I'm a huge supporter of Glenn Greenwald and his journalistic endeavors -- and have written so here -- and am glad for any light that is shed on the TSA's myriad abuses, I have to say this latest article is a bit on the day-late-dollar-short side.

The article in question is titled "Exclusive: TSA's Secret Behavior Checklist to Spot Terrorists." Okay, yes, it's exclusive in that the reporters actually got their hands on a document that outlines the TSA's so-called behavior detection procedures. But we've been writing about these procedures for years now, calling attention to their inanity, fraud, and complete lack of scientific support. 

Here's one example, from June 6, 2013 a post called "From the No Kidding Dept: auditor rates TSA epic fail." Excerpt:
Meanwhile, TSA Administrator John Pistole is, of course, downplaying the report and continuing to spout mind-numbing PR pabulum about the many-times-discredited program. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up:
TSA doesn’t reveal what suspicious behavior will trigger additional screening. But security experts say shifty eyes and sweating are among the traits that raise suspicions.
“Shifty eyes and sweating.” Really? Really?? And “experts say”? Who writes this shit?
Here's another excerpt, from March 14, 2012, in a post called "How to rat out your fellow citizens as terrorists":
Do you fidget? Have an annoying tick? Like to wear baggy clothing? Do you ever get lost and stumble down the wrong corridor? Do you like to take pictures? Have you ever gone into a rest room to change your clothes? 
Congratulations! You could be a terrorist! And if your fellow travelers are “vigilant,” they should report you to the authorities. 
Read the entire article for howlers on how the TSA is “trained to be on the lookout for bad guys.” Or how the agency’s voodoo practitioners — oops, I mean Behavior Detection Officers — are likewise on the lookout.
Here's another, from February 22, 2012, post titled "TSA lied about 2008 incident":
As for the BDO program, the research on which it is based has been discredited. Devised by a retired psychology professor named Paul Ekman, the “micro-expression” theory has never been proven or thoroughly tested. Yet the TSA spends $250 million a year to continue the BDO program. 
What do we get for all this money? BDOs who spend 4 days in the classroom and get 24 hours of on-the-job training. Then they question you at the airport and try to determine whether your raised eyebrow is a sign of terrorism or just impatience.
Here's another one, from April 8, 2014. There are many more. I'm not going to list all of them. If you've been following this blog, even in a minor way, you already know that the TSA bullies and harasses people based on whim, on caprice, on mood, on which side of the bed they woke up on, on the most crude kind of racial profiling (another 2012 post).

Anyway, if you want to see the complete list of Scary Terroristy Clues and "tells" the TSA is supposedly looking out for, here it is from The Intercept. Thanks to Sai for translating the hard-to-read PDF into legible text:
Behavior / Physiological
"Adam's Apple" jump
Change in voice pitch, rate, volume, choice of words, dry mouth
Cold penetrating stare
Covers mouth with hand while speaking
Exaggerated yawning
Exaggerated, repetitive grooming gestures
Excessive fidgeting, clock watching, head-turning, shuffling feet, leg shaking
Excessive perspiration inconsistent with the environment
Excessive throat clearing
Face becomes flushed
Face pale from recent shaving of beard
Fast eye blink rate
Gazing down
Gestures that don't match the verbal message
Increased breathing rate, panting
No or little direct eye contact
Powerful grip of a bag and/or hand inside the bag
Protruding or beating neck arteries
Repeatedly pats upper body with hands (not associated with divesting objects at X-ray or Walk Through Metal Detector (WTMD)
Repetitive touching of face
Rigid posture, minimal body movements with arms close to sides
Rubbing or wringing of hands
Scans area appearing to look for security personnel
Shows unusual interest in security officers and their work routine
Strong body odor
Sweaty palms
Whistling during the screening process
Widely open staring eyes 
Bag appears to be heavier than expected or bag does not suit the individuals appearance
Bulges in clothing
Global position system (GPS) unit
Individuals who are seemingly unrelated but display identical dress or luggage
Liquids or gels (in excess of 3.4 oz or 100 ml)
Numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones
Photographs/diagrams of high profile targets
Rope, wire, duct tape, loose batteries, loose electronic components
Training manuals such as flight, scuba, explosive, or military
Wearing improper attire for location 
Appearing not to understand questions
Appears to be confused or disoriented
Asks the BDO security-related questions
Constantly looking at other travelers or associates
Delayed Responses to questions
Displays arrogance and verbally expresses contempt for the screening process
Distracted or inability to pay attention to present situation
Does not remember significant facts when answering questions
Does not respond to authoritative commands
Downplaying of significant facts when answering questions
Evasive or vague responses
Exaggerated emotions or inappropriate behaviors to the location such as crying, excessive laughter, or chatter
Excessive complaints about the screening process
Gives non-answers
Hesitation/indecision on entering checkpoint or submitting to screening process
Lacking details about purpose of trip
Maintains covert ties with others (maintaining consistent eye contact with others, exhibiting hand gestures to others or passing objects to others)
Movement away from official towards exit
Overly specific with answers that would appear to indicate the information is memorized
Placing objects between self and official
Repeating back questions instead of answers
Unfamiliar with passport/ID or ticket data
Well-rehearsed answers that may not respond to questions or that may appear to be memorized 
Appears to be in disguise
Arrives late for flight, if known
Males 20-40 years old travelling together who are NOT part of a family
As I've said before, you can't make this shit up.