TSA

TSA Has No Time to Train its Screeners

TSA Has No Time to Train its Screeners

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 3:19pm
Today, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new report (PDF), and really, the title says it all. Called "Transportation Security Administration's Management of Its Screening Workforce Training Program Can Be Improved," the report finds it took years to get the current passenger screening program off the ground. And when it finally did, let's just say proper TSA screener training was not the emphasis. Well, there's a shocker to anyone who's been reading the news about the TSA lately.
"It Was Mostly the Middle Easterners Who Got the Special Screening"

"It Was Mostly the Middle Easterners Who Got the Special Screening"

By Hugh Handeyside, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 5:16pm

Transportation Security Administration employees subjected "Middle Easterners" to extra screening based solely on national origin, diverted "rude" passengers to retaliatory pat-down searches, and snickered at our "every fold and dimple on full awful…

SPOT Off

SPOT Off

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:58pm

Lost in all the news about the NSA program this week was the release of a devastating report by the DHS Inspector General on the TSA’s SPOT program (first reported by the New York Times on Sunday). The new report underscores what a waste of money that program has been. After hiring 2,800 full-time staff and spending an estimated $878 million since FY 2007, the program remains deeply misguided not only in its very concept, but also in how it has been implemented.

SPOT (which stands for Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) is the program that places “Behavior Detection Officers” (BDOs) near airport security lines, where by intrusively chatting with fliers, they will supposedly be able to detect “something amiss” that might suggest a passenger is planning a terrorist attack.

The program has always been ludicrous. In testimony at a 2011 congressional hearing on SPOT, psychologist Dr. Maria Hartwig summarized the decades of empirical research on the detection of deception, which is basically

Dear TSA, My Football Preferences and Vacation Plans are None of your Business: A First-Hand Experience With the TSA’s “Chat-Downs”

Dear TSA, My Football Preferences and Vacation Plans are None of your Business: A First-Hand Experience With the TSA’s “Chat-Downs”

By Devon Chaffee, Legislative Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:51pm

I was scheduled to return from my summer vacation at 6 a.m. Sunday morning flying out of Vermont’s Burlington International Airport in a state most often thought to be ahead of the civil liberties curve. If you’ve ever had a crack-of-dawn…

Getting Naked with Strangers May Be More Dangerous Than Suspected

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:29pm

In a post about body scanners last month, I noted that the health effects of these machines has been a "muted part of the debate." The issue just got less muted. NPR is reporting that a group of scientists at the University of California,…

"Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo da Vinci (modified by Jay Stanley)

A Tour of the TSA’s Testing Facility

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:04am

Last week I was given a tour of the “TSA Systems Integration Facility” (TSIF), the agency’s testing facility located at Reagan National Airport here in Washington, in some outlying buildings that used to house the airport’s post office facility.…

TSA Once Again Considering Using Commercial Data To Profile Passengers

TSA Once Again Considering Using Commercial Data To Profile Passengers

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:09am

The TSA has issued a “Market Research Announcement” in which the agency expresses a desire to expand its Pre-Check whitelist program by allowing private companies to carry out risk analysis of Americans that would determine whether they…

The TSA’s First 11 Years

The TSA’s First 11 Years

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:21pm

November 25 marked the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Homeland Security Act, which created the sprawling Department of Homeland Security. Included in this new behemoth agency was another agency that had been created a year earlier, the Transportation…

Lie Detection, Special Treatment at the Airport, and Recursive Cameras (Friday Links Roundup)

Lie Detection, Special Treatment at the Airport, and Recursive Cameras (Friday Links Roundup)

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:26pm

Salon has a nice piece on how research shows the difficulty of detecting lies—the impossibility, really—and how people consistently overestimate their ability to do so. And, how people consistently misidentify signs of stress (from a variety…

Airline Passenger Profiling: Back From the Grave?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:27pm

Does your government trust you? You may find out. The TSA wants to resurrect "airline passenger profiling" schemes from the Bush era, which would gather data about everyone who flies to label them as "trusted," "normal," or "un-trusted."

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