Better Behave!

Here we go again with the TSA, the “next level” of security for air travelers as Pistole gets ready to roll out the “behavior detection techniques at airport checkpoints.” This has been reported previously by news outlets and here on The 6th Floor. “I’m very much interested in expanding the behavior detection program, upgrading it if you will, in a way that allows us to….have more interaction with a passengers just from a discussion which may be able to expedite the physical screening aspects,” Pistole said.

More interaction with a passenger? Last thing I want when I am traveling is more interaction with the “make-work” program who protect our nation’s airports. Sorry more interaction does not equate to better security. Why does the TSA believe they can implement a “Israeli model” to the degree they do abroad? It won’t be as effective because the U.S. won’t “involve a degree of religious and racial profiling that would draw controversy.”

There’s a lot—under that Israeli model—a lot that is done that is obviously very effective,” he said. However, critics have said the Israeli program is too time consuming to use consistently at U.S. airports and may involve a degree of religious and racial profiling that would draw controversy in the U.S (source).

Unfortunately one of the major differences between the potential U.S. implementation and the Israeli model are those individuals who implement the program. The Israeli National Police (INP). “At least since the early 1970s, it has been given significant homeland security responsibilities. Moreover, though terrorist activities have varied over the last three decades in Israel, it has remained a core national concern throughout this period. In turn, the Israel National Police is considered highly efficient and professional in its
approach to homeland security responsibilities” (source).

NOTE on source: If you are interested, I highly suggest reading The Israeli Model for Policing Terrorism: Goals, Strategies, and Open Questions by David Weisburd,
Tal Jonathan and Simon Perry
.

Unfortunately the TSA is not a “police” force. They could double for mall security, but outside of manning a checkpoint and playing touchy, feely with your private parts while violating your Fourth Amendment rights, I can’t see the U.S. implementation of the Israeli model being effective. At least as Pistole has envisioned.

From a 2005 AW&ST article, “Israeli-style observation and questioning tactics–widely regarded as the most thorough, but verbally intrusive, screening processes in the airline business–are slowly gaining momentum” called Behavior Pattern Recognition (BPR). This from 2005! Unfortunately much like the Poltico comment, “selective use of Israeli security profiling methods could strengthen airport infrastructure security and make technology-based screening more robust. Opponents, however, fear the practice could mean unnecessary hassles for certain populations.

Offer Einav, president of Virginia-based Ganden Security Services Solutions (GS-3) and a former director of security for El Al Israel Airlines, says 85% of passengers are no threat to a flight; it’s the other 15% that will warrant a closer look” (source). At Tel-Aviv-Ben Guion Airport “90% of interviews take less than a minute, while 1-2% end up with the “57-min. treatment.

It didn’t take long for The American Civil Liberties Union to become involved. In 2004 a state trooper stopped an ACLU officer at Boston Logan International Airport and asked for identification. Needless to say the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the “constitutionality of BPR as it was potentially infringing on passenger privacy. “Airport officials retorted that the program was designed specifically to protect constitutional and civil rights.

I don’t see the TSA behavioral program being successful. It will introduce another layer and open the door to further scrutiny. Still for true change it will take another terrorist attack in the U.S. for the government to really wake up and take notice.