TSA Chatterboxes Not as Friendly as they Seem

You may get some extra-special attention from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the near future — but this isn’t just another pat-down or body scanner. Agents will be randomly interrogating flyers waiting in line at the security checkpoints of an expanded number of American airports, asking routine questions in the hopes of picking up on facial expressions that signify “deception” or “malicious intent.”

Costing over $200 million per year since its implementation in 2007, The Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program has deployed over 3,000 Behavioral Detection Officers (BDOs) to 161 US airports. Despite the official-sounding moniker, these CIA-style lie-detectors go through a mere four days of classroom training and 24 hours of working experience before they may claim their BDO title.

Lina Texiera, a 41 year old nurse with psychiatric experience, expressed her doubts about the adequacy of the preparation: “You’re telling me someone with a three-week training course is going to be able to do that?… I just don’t think the training they’re getting is enough.”

In spite of its $1-billion three-year price tag and its several thousand BDOs, SPOT’s effectiveness has never been scientifically established and the program has never caught a terrorist. But that didn’t stop President Obama from increasing its funding by $232 million in his 2011 budget. As I explain in the Daily Caller, this backwards mentality of rewarding ineffectiveness and failure is the standard within government.