TSA behavior screening misses suspects

ByRogerYu,USATODAY

ATransportationSecurityAdministrationprogramtoscreenpassengersatairportsbasedontheirbehaviormissedatleast16peoplelaterlinkedtoterrorplots,accordingtoagovernmentreportreleasedlastweek.
Theprogram—dubbedScreeningofPassengersbyObservationTechniques—begantestinginOctober2003toidentifythosewhoposearisktoaviationsecuritybyfocusingonbehaviorandappearance.Buttheprogramwasintroducedwithoutvalid"scientificbasis"andstillfacesoperationalchallenges,saysthereportbytheGovernmentAccountabilityOffice."Ascientificconsensusdoesnotexistonwhetherbehavior-detectionprinciplescanbereliablyusedforcounterterrorismpurposes,"thereportsays.

Theprogramemploys3,000officersat161airportsnationwideandcosts$212millionannually.It'srequesting$20millionmorefor2011.

"TSAstronglybelievesthatbehaviordetectionisavitallayerinitsaviationsecuritystrategy,"wroteJeraldLevine,directoroftheHomelandSecurityDepartment'sGAOliaisonoffice,inaresponse.

ThereportsaysTSAisfailingtofullyuse"theresourcesithasavailabletosystematicallycollectandanalyzetheinformationobtainedby(officers)onpassengerswhomayposeathreat."

Forexample,theTSAgenerallydoesnotcheckalllawenforcementandintelligencedatabasesavailabletoidentifypersonsreferredbyofficers.UsingtheseresourceswouldhelpTSAbetter"connectthedots,"thereportconcludes.

TheGAOrecommendsthatindependentexpertsreviewTSA'smethodologytoensure"arigorous,scientificvalidation"oftheprogram.


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