The TSA Is Now Monitoring Passenger Behavior

July 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In this age of global terrorism, most air travelers recognize and accept the need for enhanced security measures.

Let’s hope so. For, in addition to the many indignities you endure at airline security checkpoints, your behavior is now being “monitored.”

Massive Security Line At Orlando Airport

Massive Security Line At Orlando Airport (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

As reported on 4/27/11 by Kate Auletta of AOL Travel News, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed “Behavioral Indicator Officers” in 161 U.S. airports to monitor passenger’s antics while in security lines. The particular behaviors they are trained to spot include a cocky attitude, verbal expressions of displeasure at long lines, and fearful or impatient looks.

Auletta indicated that ” … the immigration agent who stopped the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker recalled that his behavior was ‘arrogant.’ The TSA modeled this program off that argument and other conversations with would-be hijackers.”

On their website, the TSA describes the Behavior Detection Officer’s duties as “screening travelers for involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered. TSA recognizes that an individual exhibiting some of these behaviors does not automatically mean a person has terrorist or criminal intent. Individuals exhibiting specific observable behaviors may be referred for additional screening at the checkpoint to include a hand-wanding, limited pat down, and physical inspection of one’s carry-on baggage.”

Predictably, many civil liberties advocates strongly oppose this practice, and question its effectiveness. Michael German of the ACLU called it “anti-American.” And national security analyst Peter Bergen told CNN that “it doesn’t make any sense to me.”

However, while the politicians and security experts continue to hammer this out, it also means that everyday travelers will have to put a check on their impatience and their annoyance at waiting in longer lines. While it might make you feel better to voice your frustration, just remember that it may be misinterpreted, and give you some unwanted extra attention.

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