The TSA responded to The Intercept’s inquiries about the document by calling it “just one element” of its strategy to “mitigate threats against the traveling public,” but the journalists who reported the story, Cora Currier and Jana Winter, point out that strong evidence exists that these kinds of programs are very ineffective in accurately identifying or predicting passengers who may want to cause harm.
“The TSA has insisted on keeping documents about SPOT secret, but the agency can’t hide the fact that there’s no evidence the program works,” said Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the ACLU which just filed a lawsuit against the agency for failing to publicly disclose requested information about the SPOT program.
One former Behavior Detection Officer manager, who asked not to be identified, told Currier and Winter that the TSA approach to profiling passengers suffers from both lack of science and simple inconsistency, with every airport training its officers differently. “The SPOT program is bullshit,” the manager told The Intercept. “Complete bullshit.”
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