House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., on Thursday called on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to suspend a program using behavioral detection techniques at U.S. airports, charging that it has amounted to little more than racial profiling.
Thompson was responding to a new GAO report concluding that the department deployed the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program without scientific validation and does not have an effective plan to evaluate its use.
"At no point was anyone arrested under the program for anything other than a minor offense," Thompson said. "Thus it appears that this ill-conceived and expensive program did little more than engage in racial profiling."
The Transportation Security Administration, which administers the program, disputed GAO, saying that the program is based on scientific research and law enforcement practices. TSA also said GAO relied on a faulty National Academy of Sciences study to draw conclusions.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member John Mica, R-Fla., who requested the report, said it shows that TSA is too bureaucratic and bloated to manage a program like SPOT, and should be reorganized.