back to article Revealed: 'Suicide bomber Barbie' and other TSA quack science that cost $1.5 billion

From 2007 through 2015, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spent $1.5 billion trying to identify potentially dangerous travelers by observing their behavior through an ongoing program called SPOT. SPOT stands for "screening of passengers by observation techniques." And according to the TSA's own documents, …

  1. QuiteEvilGraham
    FAIL

    "TSA's behavior detection approach is designed to identify and engage individuals who may be high-risk (eg, possess malicious intent) on the basis of an objective process using behavioral indicators and thresholds, and then route them to additional security screening,"

    That word "objective". I do not think it means what you think it means.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "identify and engage individuals who may be high-risk (eg, possess malicious intent) on the basis of an objective process using behavioral indicators and thresholds"

      I know it doesn't mean what they say. Those are the individuals they appear to deliberately ignore so they can focus on children and the elderly.

      The TSA is a jobs program for the otherwise unemployable - people who couldn't get jobs as mall security guards or Starbucks baristas.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "The TSA is a jobs program for the otherwise unemployable -"

        And helping luggage crooks be more productive.

        It's not known as the Thieves Support Association for nothing. *

        *Unless they started putting CCTV in the TSA luggage inspection areas.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "The TSA is a jobs program for the otherwise unemployable -"

          *Unless they started putting CCTV in the TSA luggage inspection areas.

          They can't, of course, for "reasons of national security"

          I have absolutely no problem with customs opening my luggage in front of me in the presence of witnesses, but uncontrolled access without supervision is not just a route for theft, it also introduces the possibility of a setup. Heck, they could even turn people unwittingly into drug mules for all we know.

    2. goldcd

      On it does make sense.

      "..is designed to.." being the important bit

      They're not actually saying it actually "does" identify individuals on the basis of an objective process, which as they've actually designed, deployed and are using SPOT, is what you'd want to hear and they'd like to say.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      TSA's behavior detection approach is designed to identify and engage individuals who may be high-risk (eg, possess malicious intent) on the basis of an objective process using behavioral indicators and thresholds, and then route them to additional security screening

      Indeed. For a while, I was randomly selected for the enhanced security screening every time I would board a flight in the US. I can't be sure what was the objective process used to make the determination, but my guess is that it was a combination of three factors: at the time, I had a crew haircut and a full-face beard, making me look like a muslim to some idiots. I believe the second factor was a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit I took, where I got rerouted through Paris. The TSA guy I had to explain this to clearly took this as a fiendish attempt to evade the then-ongoing paroxism of the wars on stuff, and ended up making copious notes - which undoubtedly went on my file. The final straw was my unfortunate tendency to be polite to older helpless-looking people, which once prompted me to help a very nice old lady in a muslim dress to move her luggage in an area where TSA in their infinite wisdom has barred luggage trolleys. I also chatted to her afterwards for a while, as we were both waiting for a flight.

      Bingo.

      For the next two years, my every attempt to check in online will fail. Every boarding pass I will get at the airport will have the dreaded "SSSS" security flag. If I were lucky that day, I'd just get an extra security machine or two and a bit of light whole-body massage; if not, it would be into the waiting room for an interview - so after a while I started carring some extra reading material, and allocating extra two hours for clearing the security.

      Then, after couple of years of this charade, it just stopped. No doubt TSA paperwork has shown that Yet Another Security Incident was prevented by the clever behaviour-science wizards at TSA.

    4. fajensen Silver badge
      Facepalm

      What did people imagine would happen? The TSA was set up rapidly and to do this rapidly, they asked everyone else amongst the TLA's to send them staff: "Give us your best and brightest!" was the call

      - of course what they actually got in response was the deadwood, problem people, misfits, idiots, the people we cannot fire for XXX reason and whatever else could be spared.

      If one is, for example, the FBI one does not necessarily want Competition to succeed and attract more staff and more funding because of it, now, does one?

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Palpy

    For enquiring minds, a link --

    -- to the artist Simon Tyszko’s Suicide Bomber Barbie.

    "Suicide Bomber Barbie draws attention to certain kinds of moral, emotional, and political equivalence, which uncomfortably exist within the nationalistic and political systems that contain them. That these systems are dysfunctional, goes without saying."

    Indeed. One may say similar things about the TSA, though I think no one doubts the need for security at airports.

  4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    TSA

    TSA = Totally Stupid Agency only good for security theater and otherwise being a blight on humanity.

    1. DNTP

      Re: TSA

      Well, be careful where you say that- according to the TSA themselves, irritation, contempt, belittlement, ridicule, amusement, insistence on legal rights regarding, or logical criticism towards TSA procedures is a clear indication of terrorist intent.

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: TSA

      I don't think that's what the TSA is really for.

      It seems to be a method for extracting money from taxpayers and creating empires for approved people to wield.

      Safety for travelers is not in its remit.

      See: Homeland Security.

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: TSA

      Was it the TSA that were buying high-priced dowsing rod "explosive detectors" from a woo-woo science scammer some years ago? Or was that DHS? Took 'em a very long time to admit there was no "there, there" and throw the things in the bin.

      1. Dr Scrum Master

        Re: TSA

        Was it the TSA that were buying high-priced dowsing rod "explosive detectors" from a woo-woo science scammer some years ago? Or was that DHS?

        Dowsing rods or not, DHS have certainly been stocking up on ammunition...

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: TSA

        Was a Brit selling dowsing rods to Iraq:

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/22/dowsing_rod_bomb_detector_bust/

        and

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/02/mccormick_jailed_decade_fake_bomb_detectors/

        Sorry, no TSA, no DHS to point at and giggle. This time ;-)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: TSA

          It was the CIA and DoD that paid $20 million for software that could decode secret hidden terrorist messages in TV static. Then it was the Dept of Justice that shut down the investigation into who was paid off for the contract because of national security concerns.

        2. Dr Scrum Master

          Re: TSA

          Was a Brit selling dowsing rods to Iraq

          Not just Iraq.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADE_651#Investigations_and_export_ban

          Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Georgia, India, Iran, Kenya, Lebanon, Niger, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Vietnam, but still not the TSA, yet.

          Plus, other brands of dowsing rod are available...

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: TSA

      Absobloodylutely.

      The positive sample is too small (and thanks god for that) to draw any statistical conclusions. What do we have today. 2 or 3 attempts. The shoe bomber, the pants bomber and who else?

      Even if we have preflight observations of them, it is mathematically impossible to get any results out of a sample this size so trying to get them is a rank raving lunacy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TSA

        Only lunacy unless you are the bright spark consultant who came up with the idea then you are a genius.

  5. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Typical sloppy job by El Reg.

    " It also includes a cartoon that presents a mother and daughter wearing hijabs, arguing over the daughter's desire for a sixth "suicide bomber martyr Barbie.""

    The "funny" retort from the mother is "you have six already".

    Six plus the one in the little terrorist's hands makes seven. The desire is for a seventh suicide bomber martyr Barbie.

    This lack of attention to arithmetical detail is rife in western society, its scientific papers and its software, the reason why space probes can't land properly, the hallmark of Fake News and bogus Global Warming Conspiracies and the main reason the terrorists are emboldened and not surrendering and laying down arms already.

    Harrumph, sir! Harrumph!

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Sometimes I can't tell if you peeps hate us or love us. I've fixed the copy. Don't forget to email corrections@thereg ah fuck it.

      C.

      1. Alister Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Bah!

        Don't forget to email corrections@thereg ah fuck it.

        "I'm sorry, that address is not recognised, the domain thereg.ah.fuck.it may be incorrect"

        :)

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Bah!

          And we have a winner of the new Banner: subheading contest:-

          The Register: Ah, fuck IT.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          $ dig thereg.ah.fuck.it

          ; <<>> DiG 9.10.4-P5 <<>> thereg.ah.fuck.it

          ;; global options: +cmd

          ;; Got answer:

          ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 28625

          ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1

          ;; OPT PSEUDOSECTION:

          ; EDNS: version: 0, flags:; udp: 4096

          ;; QUESTION SECTION:

          ;thereg.ah.fuck.it. IN A

          ;; ANSWER SECTION:

          thereg.ah.fuck.it. 3600 IN A 46.252.31.30

          ;; Query time: 359 msec

          ;; SERVER: ::munged::

          ;; WHEN: Thu Feb 09 01:10:53 PST 2017

          ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 62

          ::heh::

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bah!

            $ dig thereg.ah.fuck.it

            WTF? Brilliant find :)

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        Does this mean I'm off the naughty step?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        Sometimes I can't tell if you peeps hate us or love us

        Not mutually exclusive emotions, but it's more fun to wind you up a bit than just file a correction :)

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        Sometimes I can't tell if you peeps hate us or love us.

        Yes.

        HTH, HAND etc.

      5. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Don't forget to email corrections@thereg

        Oi!

        I do my bit for the free El Reg Proofreading Kommando, and do it the way it is supposed to be done.

        But.

        You put low hanging fruit out there, I claim the right to be the first to kick it in the comments section.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't forget to email corrections@thereg

          You put low hanging fruit out there, I claim the right to be the first to kick it in the comments section.

          I must be living in a rougher neighbourhood - I don't associate "kicking low hanging fruit" with spelling mistakes.

          :)

      6. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Bah!

        "Don't forget to email corrections@thereg ah fuck it."

        Ssso you want to keep hiss preciousss rant to yoursself. Yeesss you do. Nasty hackses! We hates you!

      7. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "Sometimes I can't tell if you peeps hate us or love us."

        As it is in all relationships that are based on an all-consuming passion - both.

        "Don't forget to email corrections@thereg"

        Everybody knows that - but where's the fun in that?

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Nothing wrong with the joke. The kid wants a sixth barbie, the mother says she has six already - obviously the kid isn't good at counting, thinking she has five when she has six.

      1. uncommon_sense
        Joke

        Re: Bah!

        >Six or Five Barbies

        Or mum doesn't know that one of them actually blew up in the school yard…

        The school bully stepped on it and it's Li-ion battery instantly became an Anti Personnel Mine!

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Bah!

      Six plus the one in the little terrorist's hands makes seven. The desire is for a seventh suicide bomber martyr Barbie.

      One just exploded.

  6. Oh Homer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    What's good for the goose...

    Based on the behaviour of the US government, they are all terrorists.

  7. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Is "Black Country Accent" on the list??

    Just asking, my sons GF was pulled for drug searches EVERY time they went through a US airport last year, no one else in the rather large group was even glanced at (she speaks broad Dudley); the rest speak with slightly more refined accents (Shropshire and Worcestershire).

    Me?? I have refused to visit the US since they pointed machine guns at my 7 y/o son, because he had a drawing pin stuck in the heel of one shoe; and took his Mickey mouse toy away, "because it looked like a gun"; even then, clearing security in the US took nearly as long as the flight.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Is "Black Country Accent" on the list??

      You think thats bad.... wait until you set off the metal detectors .....because of the surgically implanted metal that holds your leg together...

      "look out hes got a suicide leg!"

      Boris

      <<despising the twonk staffed agency since they cut the straps on his backpack in order to open it....... the helpful plastic clips that held it shut were 1 inch away ....

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Is "Black Country Accent" on the list??

        We've given up flying for this very reason. Full stop. My lady has a prosthetic leg and numerous joint replacements. She gets pulled out every freakin' time. She'll them that she can't do some things they want her to like raise her hands over her head (shoulder replacements) and then they try to force her arms to move where they can't. They'll fiddle with her prosthetic for awhile, discover the battery (it's microprocessor leg) and try to confiscate it because.. bombs.

        Fucking morons running amok is what they are.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: You think thats bad.

        You think that's bad. Wait until you set off the plastic explosive scanner alerts with the arthritis in your joints.

        "Would you mind stepping into the body scanner sir?"

        "Not at all."

        Buzz Buzz Whoosh Whoosh

        "Er ... officer, could you inspect the passenger's knees and thighs please?"

        "Wait, what? Doesn't someone have to offer me candy first?"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is "Black Country Accent" on the list??

      Maybe I haven't lost my black country accent then... (I moved away 19 years ago.)

      My family managed to clock up 7 bag searches spread across 5 of us on a recent trip to Florida from the UK. (We changed flights at Washington, hence managed to clock up more bag searches than we had items of hand baggage by having bag checks there as well as in the UK...)

      For the record, it gets pretty boring once you've worked out that your offspring *hasn't* put a tub of rice pudding or a large rock in their bag *this* time and it's just some strange configuration of crayons, books toys etc. that's making the staff working the scanner worry...

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Is "Black Country Accent" on the list??

      she speaks broad Dudley

      Caught in posession of an offensive accent? Travelling while Dudley?

  8. Dr Scrum Master

    KGB

    Have some retired KGB chaps been providing advice to the TSA?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: KGB

      Have some retired KGB chaps been providing advice to the TSA?

      No, judging by the cruelty on display they must be descendants of all the Nazis scientists the US took in after the war instead of convicting them as war criminals. You must be pretty deluded to think that what they do contributes in any way to security - you could achieve just as much at 1% of the cost by randomisation. Actually, I think that may actually be more effective as it takes away the profile blindness they have at present: if you know what profiles they use you can work on falling outside those parameters (which MUSt be happening already). By randomisation you strip predictability from the process and thus increate the risk of detection.

      But hey, that would mean someone would have to hand in 99% of their budget. Not going to happen - troughs must be filled for that many snouts..

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: KGB

      "Have some retired KGB chaps been providing advice to the TSA?"

      Probably not. The KGB were highly trained, competent professionals. So that's 0 out of 3 for the TSA.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You don't understand

    Big Brother loves you! Loves you long time

    Anon obviously

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women easier to indoctrinate ?

    Funny. My brief time with a military organization far more reputable than the TSA taught that women were much harder to indoctrinate in a military situation as they are not natural team players to the extent that men are (no idea if that is true, but it is what was taught).

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Women easier to indoctrinate ?

      I was held up in Israel because I was an older female traveling with an older female and we were Just The Type to be sweet-talked by young and sexy Hamid and Abdul into taking 'presents' back to their family in my country. Because all older single female are putty in the hands of doe-eyed young Palestinians. I guess even the lesbian ones, like my partner (now missus) and myself.

  11. frank ly Silver badge

    Unusual behaviour

    "... roving officers, some undercover, who engage travelers in casual conversation while looking for telltale signs of malicious intent, whatever those might be. Ostensibly, these conversations were voluntary, but seeking to avoid them or being insufficiently forthcoming was treated as an "indicator" that might prompt referral to additional screening."

    Being accosted by strangers who try to lure me into converstion is guarenteed to make me tense and glower. Repeated experience has shown me that those sorts of people are usually up to no good.

    1. moiety

      Re: Unusual behaviour

      Must admit that when I'm travelling my greatest desire is for people to stay the fuck away from me. A complete stranger sidling up to me and trying to pump me for information is probably the best way of manufacturing malicious intent where none existed before.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Unusual behaviour

        As a loyal American non-terrorist, if some stranger sidled upto you and tried to engage you in disloyal anti-American conversation isn't it your patriotic duty to shoot them ?

        1. Someone Else Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Unusual behaviour

          Only in Tejas and North Dakota. Elsewhere, you need a permit.

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Unusual behaviour

            Only in Tejas and North Dakota. Elsewhere, you need a permit.

            Tm Lehrer has something to say on that!

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NfW2tYIn8-Q

            - very funny (as most of his stuff, in this case his tally included 2 Game Wardens, Seven Hunters and a Cow (purse bred Guernsey)

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: Unusual behaviour

              and a Cow (purse bred Guernsey)

              I'd heard of small dogs being purposefully bred so that women could carry one about in a handbag, but never a cow!

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Unusual behaviour

                >I'd heard of small dogs being purposefully bred so that women could carry one about in a handbag, but never a cow!

                How else would they fill those little individual serving milk pots on the planes

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Unusual behaviour

        "A complete stranger sidling up to me and trying to pump me for information"

        Last time someone did that to me at an airport they were running a 'free holiday' timeshare competition scam.

        As far as I'm concerned, the only legitimate pumping for information should be asking what I want from the menu.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Unusual behaviour

      Talking to a stranger is a well-known pickpocketing technique.

      So of course any sensible individual will immediately go on high alert when someone they don't know tries to talk to them in a crowded area.

    3. A K Stiles

      Re: Unusual behaviour

      exactly - as a British person, if I don't know you, please don't engage me in conversation at random - to me that's an obvious sign of malicious intent!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Unusual behaviour

        "exactly - as a British person, if I don't know you, please don't engage me in conversation at random - to me that's an obvious sign of malicious intent!"

        And that's only one quite minor cultural difference that needs to be taken into account in a huge highly travelled international transport hub! The TSA behavioural observers must be genius level!!!

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Unusual behaviour

      "Being accosted by strangers who try to lure me into converstion is guarenteed to make me tense and glower. Repeated experience has shown me that those sorts of people are usually up to no good."

      Considering all I've heard and read of the TSA "experience", if I ever went to the US I'd be so bloody nervous their "observational behaviourists" would be around me like a swarm of flies! Luckily, I'm never planning on going there. I used to think I might like to, but not any more.

  12. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    This will never fly

    Imagine what would happen if government spending on pet projects could legally be halted just because there was scientific evidence that the project was a complete waste of time and money.

  13. Someone Else Silver badge
    Big Brother

    But...but...but...this is Trump's Amerika

    "Lawmakers from both parties have been quite critical of this program," Handeyside said. "We don't see how these kinds of techniques, given decades of research, can be used in a way that's consistent with passenger civil liberties."

    But this is Trump's Amerika, and snake oil sales are at an all time high. Civil Liberties? Yeah, we heard about them once...but didn't pay attention.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on Barbie...

    ... let's go Stasi^H^H^H^H^H ISIS.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women suicide bombers?

    So what's in it for Women Suicide Bombers? The men get promised 70+ virgins waiting for them. Am guessing the last thing a women wants is 70+ male virgins with no experience?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Women suicide bombers?

      Who the hell wants a virgin, anyway? Sex, like most things, gets better with practice.

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Women suicide bombers?

      Maybe they get upgraded to be considered the equal of the men in Paradise.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Clearly someone has been studying the GSG9 playbook.

    As described in "Shoot the Women First."

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple fix - don't visit the US

    It's a backward nation, with delusions of competance, occupied by gun-toting lunatics run by a billionaire cabal.

    Fuck the lot of 'em and stay the hell away.

    1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      Re: Simple fix - don't visit the US

      A sound approach. I visited Turkey for a couple of days to watch the eclipse. I travelled through Peru to visit the Galapagos islands. I'm now very popular with the TSA.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Simple fix - don't visit the US

        I visited Turkey for a couple of days to watch the eclipse

        IRT that "to watch the apocalypse". I would have thought that the US is currently the best place[1] to watch that.

        [1] Preferrably from afar. Being caught in the middle of a proto-apocalypse probably isn't much fun.

    2. A. Coatsworth

      Re: Simple fix - don't visit the US

      I *really* wanted to go to the US in August, to watch the solar eclipse... but I'm not subjecting myself to the ignominy that is their visa-application process (I live in Latin America). And I definitely won't risk the change of getting to know a TSA agent intimately while in the airport.

  18. MotherGoose
    Mushroom

    So, this bit:

    "Mattel doesn't presently sell suicide bomber martyr Barbie. But if it did, and if the doll functioned as advertised, periodic replacement would be necessary."

    Would it come with a warranty??

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re:Would it come with a warranty??

      Yes- if it's still in once piece, you get your cash back...

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      If they did - would they be at risk of a patent/prior art lawsuit?

  19. Ian Emery Silver badge

    TSA Nazis

    My now adult son related a story to me from his last trip to the US, last year.

    They were in a security queue, behind a large group of young Chinese school children; TSA Nazis started marching along the queue screaming "backpacks on the ground". Obviously the kids didnt understand, so the the Nazis grabbed the kids, dragged them out of the queue and roughly ripped their school backpacks off.

  20. Potemkine Silver badge

    Alternative Scientific Facts

    Did they try Astrology? or Voodoo?

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Alternative Scientific Facts

      Nah - That was the CIA!

  21. James 51 Silver badge
    Joke

    Shirley a small hand of government/fascial conservative like Trump who wants to drain the swamp will immediately cancel (via tweet) this as soon as he learns about the huyge waste of tax payers money (probably via tweet again)?

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    IIRC post 9/11 airlines said they could only add security if it added <$70/flight

    Not a passenger.

    Per flight.

    So the USG kindly stepped in and took that burden off the poor overloaded airlines.

    And put it on every US taxpayer instead.

    I'll let US readers decide who they think got the better end of that deal.

  23. EnviableOne Bronze badge
    Go

    just a quick question

    Has the TSA and all this screening actually stopped an attack that would not have been under the old system?

    or have the terrorists won by making our flying experience hell?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: just a quick question

      "have the terrorists won by making our flying experience hell?"

      Yes.

  24. imanidiot Silver badge

    Sure, try to talk to me...

    I work in an industry where industrial espionage is a large problem. If I'm travelling to the US it's probably on bussiness, which means that I won't be discussing where I'm going or what I'm going to do there. The best even the TSA is going to get out of me is probably "Service for semi-conductor fabrication technology". They wouldn't understand even that probably.

    I could swear TSA meant "Theatrical Stealing Agency"...

  25. PTW

    Proof the "human factor" works...

    Why didn't they just copy Ben Gurion? You can even keep your shoes on!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-wagner/what-israeli-airport-secu_b_4978149.html

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Proof the "human factor" works...

      Why didn't they just copy Ben Gurion? You can even keep your shoes on!

      Because it is:

      a) Expensive (and not in a "how much can I skim off the top" way).

      b) Requires trained, intelligent people rather than semi-evolved non-sentients.

      c) Was invented somewhere else.

  26. Florida1920 Silver badge

    Learned from Mossad?

    I went through a similar "casual conversation" with a nice young man at the El Al terminal at Newark Airport in 1997, before even being allowed to get my boarding pass. The flight was Newark-Stansted-Tel Aviv. After a few minutes of "conversation," the NYM would walk away to consult with an older man, then return for more chatting.

  27. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    Let's all bash the TSA.

    I wonder.. for those who bash the TSA, how well can you perform a job where you must make 20-200 decisions an hour, 40 hours a week and get each of these tasks done correctly. Where, if you make one mistake and miss something, lives are put in danger.

    Yes, it's easy to bash TSA when you're ignorant. However, I'm willing to bet you make at least 2 to 3 mistakes a week at your job.

    Let's not forget. The ACLU doesn't exactly have the best reputation when it comes to credibility. It obviously doesn't have all the information here (by their own admittance). Also remember, there is no expectation of privacy when travelling.

    I've been pulled aside at an airport TSA checkpoint many times for additional screening, patting down, etc. Along with having to open my carry on luggage many times. I'm clean cut, usually wearing a suit and give them no reason I know of to search me. Hmm... perhaps the TSA has a problem with penetration testers. Or maybe, it's because I usually carry on two to three laptop computers along with some Ethernet cables and a SOHO router. No, that's not it... I should ask the ACLU...I'm sure they could come up with a frivolous reason.

    Of course you come to the conclusion anyone who carries onto an aircraft this much electronic equipment should be looked at a little closer.; However, it can easily be spun into saying the ACLU doesn't trust penetration testers, and therefore they are profiled for extra scrutiny.

    The leadership of the ACLU gets paid a lot of money. The more they spout out and the louder they are towards issues the elite left support, the more money they get from the filthy rich left. So don't think for one moment the ACLU cares about anything but donations to their bank accounts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's all bash the TSA.

      I wonder.. for those who bash the TSA, how well can you perform a job where you must make 20-200 decisions an hour, 40 hours a week and get each of these tasks done correctly. Where, if you make one mistake and miss something, lives are put in danger.

      That sounds exactly like the job a transit bus driver does - except that in most countries, the hours are longer, and the working conditions are tougher for the bus driver. In fact one might argue that the consequences of a mistake by a bus driver (or any other heavy equipment operator) are usually more severe and more immediate than for a TSA agent.

      Nonetheless, most people do not experience apprehension when interacting with bus drivers, and do not bear grudges and latent hostility against them. Could it be because most people can clearly see the importance and utility of a transit driver's work, and are not expected to unquestioningly obey all orders, no matter how nonsensical, issued by their bus driver?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's all bash the TSA.

      Yes, the ACLU has never been playing with a full deck, and even less so now!

      /rant

      The Fifth Column keeps funding them, together with BLM, SJW and other subversive threats.

      The Media keeps telling us that everything is opposite of what it is!

      Mass Psychosis,caused by mass media, the internet and social media, which is like the Babel Fish of the real world. By removing all barriers to communication, it has caused more and bloodier wars than ever before, as well as removing peoples ability to think. One human can be quite intelligent and wise, but many humans interacting becomes dumb, panicky animals!

      The Lefts feminist brainwash of a whole generation of school children laid the foundation, and now silicon is doing the rest..

      To solve this, we must abolish mass media and communication, going back to the Fifties.

      Eradicate Feminism and voting rights for women, who cannot think but only feel, even while BELIEVING that they are thinking. If only men could vote, would our borders be wide open now?

      Would Real Men ever have invented the Schengen agreement??

      Remember that every Male Dog is, in essence, A Son Of A Bitch!

      /rant off

      This may seem only tangential to the subject, but everything IS connected!

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Let's all bash the TSA.

        For a minute I thought this was BigJohn for real! Nicely done.

    3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Let's all bash the TSA.

      I get stopped regularly because they can see I am a nice, well-mannered middle-aged woman who won't bitch and moan and who will be pleasant and understanding. I must set off some signal that says 'we have an easy one here to help us make up our quota'.

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