TSA 'Behavioral Officers' Monitor Passengers At Airports
So what do these behavioral specialists look for as dead giveaways of aspiring terrorists waiting patiently in line?
Be wary of seeming too cocky or verbally express displeasure with long lines. Don't look fearful or impatient. You can easily spot the TSA behavioral specialist by looking for the agent staring at you with one raised and quizzical eyebrow.
The specialists are currently deployed in 161 airports around the country, according to the TSA.
Civil liberties groups say it's "absurd" that exercising your right to freedom of speech should seem suspicious. Michael German of the ACLU even called it "anti-American."
Terrorist experts say would-be terrorists try to keep a low profile at the airport to deflect attention. And national security analyst Peter Bergen told CNN that "it doesn't make any sense to me."
Yet the immigration agent who stopped the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker recalled that his behavior was "arrogant." The TSA modeled this program off that argument and other conversations with would-be hijackers.
As Gadling's Mike Barish notes: '"You know who exhibits involuntary physical and physiological reactions in response to TSA screenings? A very large segment of the population. Between patting down children, radiating travelers and blatant xenophobia, the TSA hasn't exactly installed confidence in the general public. So, it's only natural that completely innocent travelers might exhibit signs of fear while waiting to be screened by poorly trained security agents.
At present, all travelers are presumed guilty until scanned innocent. That makes many people outraged, nervous and downright scared. Will these TSA Behavior Detection Officers be able to differentiate an anxious terrorist and a nervous flier? Seeing as how how the TSA has a history of overstepping its bounds, it's hard for us to be confident in their profiling skills."
On the TSA's website, behavior detection officers are,
"screening travelers for involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered. TSA recognizes that an individual exhibiting some of these behaviors does not automatically mean a person has terrorist or criminal intent. Individuals exhibiting specific observable behaviors may be referred for additional screening at the checkpoint to include a handwanding, limited pat down and physical inspection of one's carry-on baggage."
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