- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Freak lightning storm kills 1, injures 7 on California beach
- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
TSA profiling at airports has yet to nab a terrorist
Agency’s chief defends program effectiveness
Question of the Day
The TSA's behavior-profiling program at airports has been in effect for seven years, but has yet to identify any potential terrorists who pose a threat to aviation, the agency's administrator acknowledged Thursday.
Still, John S. Pistole, chief of the Transportation Security Administration, said that if Congress halts the program, he will have to order his agents to do more pat-downs and lines at airports will get longer.
Mr. Pistole is fighting to preserve the profiling program, run by Behavior Detection Officers, or BDOs, in the face of a new government-watchdog report that says the research shows officers are little better than random chance in picking out potentially dangerous passengers.
The Government Accountability Office recommended cutting funding — and that proposal has the support of a number of members of Congress, who said the $200 million a year spent on profiling could be better spent elsewhere.
Mr. Pistole disagreed with the research and said cutting the program will force him to put more passengers through stiff screenings.
"Defunding the program is not the answer," he said. "If we did that, if Congress did that, what I can envision is, there would be fewer passengers going through expedited screening, there would be increased pat-downs, there would be longer lines and there would be more frustration by the traveling public."
A union that represents TSA workers also pleaded for the jobs to be saved.
"We shouldn't be focused on ending the BDO program. Currently, it is the only program we have, and it's done a good job," American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. told reporters. "Is it perfect? No, but let's not trash the program when it can be improved."
Mr. Pistole acknowledged that the BDO program hasn't detected any would-be terrorists, and that most of the people that end up being referred all the way to law enforcement are illegal immigrants, drug traffickers or those with outstanding arrest warrants.
Mr. Pistole said the lack of any terrorist apprehensions doesn't signal anything because there hasn't been a successful terrorist attempt to board an aircraft from within the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.
"This has been over seven years, and we have screened by observation over 4 billion passengers. It actually comes out to less than 50 cents — in some instances, 25 cents per passenger is the cost for BDOs to observe," he said.
But critics said that given the lack of catching any terrorists, the math could be viewed the other way.
"Or you could say it in the reverse. You could say a billion dollars with no result," said Rep. Mark Sanford, South Carolina Republican.
The BDO program is separate from the screenings of luggage and passengers performed by security officers.
BDOs are trained to look for 94 different telltale behaviors that could signal a dangerous intent. But the GAO review said officers interpret the behavioral cues differently, making it subjective.
In fact, during their review of a month of operations, the GAO found some officers never referred a single passenger for a secondary screening.
Mr. Pistole said that, in part, because of behavior profiling, TSA is able to let more people go through expedited physical screening. Expedited screening still involves going through a metal detector and having luggage scanned, but it doesn't put passengers through the more time-consuming full-body scans.
Mr. Pistole said someone with an underwear bomb or with a surgically implanted explosive could still get through the full screening, which is why the profiling program is still needed.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lois Lerner emails reveal gaping open-records loophole
- Two-thirds of illegal immigrant children approved for asylum: report
- Top Justice official denies conspiring with IRS on tea party targeting
- Boehner: No bill on border surge
- Taking Obama to court a long shot but lawsuit not folly, Congress is told
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's trial to test definitions of political corruption
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq