August 21, 2011 Department of Homeland Security & Eric W. Dolan / Raw Story
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has called for the TSA to halt the implementation of a behavioral screening program modeled after Israel's airport security screening methods. In the new "Assessor" screenings, TSA officers will ask passengers personal questions and look for signs that they may be hiding something. Suspicious passengers will be sent to a secondary screening or referred to a police officer.
Suspect Everyone: The Drop Off -- If You See Something, Say Something 30 Second "Homeland" Security Video
The "If You See Something, Say Something™" campaign is being launched in conjunction with the rollout of the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI) (PDF, 2 pages -- 545 KB). The NSI is an administration-wide effort to develop, evaluate, and implement common processes and policies for gathering, documenting, processing, analyzing, and sharing information about terrorism-related suspicious activities.
Democrat Questions TSA over
Israeli-style ‘Chat Downs’ Eric W. Dolan / Raw Story
WASHINGTON (August 18, 2011 -- Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) on Monday called for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to halt the implementation of a new behavioral screening program that is modeled after Israel's airport security screening methods. He is a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
The 60-day Behavior Detection Officer pilot program began Monday at the Boston Logan International Airport. In the new "Assessor" screenings, TSA officers will ask passengers a few personal questions and look for signs that they may be hiding something. Suspicious passengers will be sent to a secondary screening or referred to a law enforcement officer.
In a letter (PDF) to TSA Administrator John Pistole, Thompson questioned why the agency had decided to implement a "scientifically unproven technique," noting there "is no scientific validation, limited or comprehensive, of the efficacy of the Assessor model of screening to detect persons who pose a security risk to aviation." Thompson is skeptical that the results of the pilot program can determine how the agency should proceed with the "chat downs."
"Although the [Behavior Detection Officers] may not have interviewed a sufficient number of passengers to yield a statistically significant result during this 60 day period, TSA representatives indicated during the briefing that the agency plans on using the results of the pilot to determine whether the 'assessor' program should be expanded."
"As Congress and the Executive Branch continue to negotiate historic reductions in federal spending, it is curious that TSA continues to deploy personnel and divert dwindling budget resources to this unproven, costly and potentially ineffective security screening protocol," he added.
The Behavior Detection Officer pilot program is part of a nearly $1 billion national program called the Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT) program.
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