Jim Crow Wears A Blue Shirt and Gloves
The TSA already has so much egg on its face it could serve omelets to every passenger it gropes. This week, it added another couple dozen to that supply: news that its thugs are picking on folks at Boston’s Logan International because they’re black or Latino joins earlier, similar reports from Newark’s and Honolulu’s airports. This horror stems from grossly unconstitutional nonsense the agency dignifies as “Behavior Detection” (BD).
Astoundingly, the TSA has long insisted that its incompetent employees – you know, the ones who fail every test of their skills at finding contraband on undercover investigators because they can’t even read their monitors – can nonetheless read our thoughts. And with only four days’ indoctrination in BD, no less.
BD’s unproven, very questionable theory is that everyone broadcasts his intentions with his body-language (apparently, the TSA has never heard of card-sharks who make fortunes with poker-faces). So BDO’s [“Behavior Detection Officers”] will catch terrorists by watching for “suspicious” signs, such as avoiding eye-contact (obviously, all terrorists are shy…), fidgeting (…as well as nervous…), or sweating (…they’re usually hot, too). And then there are “microexpressions.” These supposedly flicker across your face so quickly they’re pretty much invisible – except to Dr. Paul Ekman.
Ekman is a professor of psychology from the University of California Medical School (UCSF) and a charlatan who lends BD a veneer of academic respectability. He’s spent decades pushing this voo-doo while pretending to read minds – and on our dime, too. When he isn’t playing the Amazing Kreskin, he begs for tax-funded grants or sells his “expertise” to the Feds for a million of our tax-dollars.
Yet there’s not a scintilla of objective proof that BD can uncover terrorists – and lots of anecdotal evidence that it doesn’t: when Ekman unleashed his powers at Boston’s Logan International, he caught not a terrorist but a mourner traveling to his brother’s funeral.
The BDOs he supposedly trained are no better at discerning terrorists. From January 2006 through September 2007, these dimwits pounced on 43,000 of the approximately 1.3 billion passengers who flew during those months. They sicced the cops on 3,100 of these 43,000 victims; 278 landed behind bars for guns, drugs, fake ID, or immigration problems – but not a one for terrorism. (Any random dragnet would turn up similar numbers of unconstitutional arrests.)
If that isn’t damning enough, try this: from 2004 through 2008, “at least 16 different people who were later charged or pleaded guilty to terrorism-related offenses were able to slip through 8 different U.S. airports where TSA had been employing the … [BD] program. These 16 terrorists evaded detection at these airports a total of 23 times.” Not only does this testify that Ekman sold the TSA a bill of goods, which the TSA now retails to us, it also discredits the entire War on the Constitu-sorry, Terror. Sixteen “terrorists” milled about these airports 23 times, yet no planes crashed, nor did the old Homeland incur any damage.
Recall, too, that there are plenty of criminals within the TSA’s own ranks: screeners who steal from passengers, traffic in child-pornography, or murder. Yet the BDOs are too busy finding no terrorists among passengers to discover the actual felons right under their noses, among their co-“workers.”
No wonder “a critical assessment of the program in 2010 by the Government Accountability Office [GAO]… said the link between a person’s behavior and mental state is strongest in reading ‘simple emotions’ like happiness and sadness. … the link is weak in determining from behavior whether someone is lying, the report said, and ‘nonexistent’ for determining ‘when individuals hold terrorist intent and beliefs.’” The GAO also noted that “a scientific consensus does not exist on whether behavior detection principles can be reliably used for counterterrorism purposes, according to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.…”
The Department of Homeland Security, the TSA’s über-bureaucracy, admits as well that BD is fatuous even as it foists it on us. “’The research in this area is fairly immature,’ says Larry Willis, who manages the department’s Project Hostile Intent. ‘We’re trying to establish whether there is something to detect.’”
You might think the TSA would have “established whether there is something to detect” before wasting our money on this hocus-pocus. But no: the agency has invested our taxes in BD since 2003; last year, it “requested” a whopping $236.9 million to “[fund] 3,336 BDOs, which includes 350 new positions.” So not only does this lunacy flourish, it’s expanding.
Yet all BD does is furnish yet another excuse for government’s lackeys to harass citizens – as those at Newark and Honolulu had already demonstrated. Now Boston’s brutes join them: “More than 30 [of the TSA’s BDOs at Boston’s Logan International] … say the operation has become a magnet for racial profiling … The officers identified nearly two dozen co-workers who they said consistently focused on stopping minority members in response to pressure from managers to meet certain threshold numbers for referrals to the State Police, federal immigration officials or other agencies.”
Nor should we be surprised at such racial persecution: there’s an inexorable logic to it. “The stops were seen as a way of padding the program’s numbers and demonstrating to Washington policy makers that the behavior program was producing results, several officers said.”
Each time BD’s mask slips to reveal Jim Crow, the TSA squawks, “Racial profiling is not tolerated within the ranks of TSA, including within the Behavior Detection Program” – despite the obvious fact that it’s not only tolerated but widespread. Meanwhile, Congresscriminals wring their hands, threaten investigations, and moan, “There is no place for racial or ethnic profiling in our security policies, period.” Then they vote to steal more money from us on behalf of the TSA in general and BD in particular.
Some observers grieve that this debacle “shows how hard it is to disentangle race” from American life. Balderdash. Rather, it demonstrates yet again the utter evil and unconstitutionality of the TSA.
How long before Americans rebel against this vile agency?
Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian. Her novel of the American Revolution is available here.
Copyright © 2012 by Americans for Travel Freedom. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.