This just in from the “tell me something I didn’t already know” department.
It turns out that the TSA’s program to screen people who seem nervous (according to their Behavior Detection Officers) is useless. After
annoying the ever loving fuck out of screening 160,000 sheep travelers, the BDOs have netted 1,266 arrests for drug possession and carrying fake IDs and umm… ZERO potential terrorists. (source)
While this program has not ensnared anyone that it was intended to ensnare, I guess it makes everyone feel better, right?
I got swept up in this bunk at LAX a few months ago. I had flown out for a hell of a party. While there, a friend gave me a suitcase full of porn (I have an explanation below). I reeked of last night’s booze, I had bloodshot eyes, so I was herded into a pen with about 20 other “suspicious characters.” I was the only one in there that wasn’t wearing a turban or a burkha.
The BDO idiot began to question me. Then, he found my souvenir Elvis Presley ID in my wallet. That raised a hell of an alarm. I overheard him speaking to his
former Wal-Mart greeter supervisor “hey, this looks like a fake ID.” I interjected, “look on the back, genius, it says SOUVENIR for a reason. I bought it at Graceland.” I managed to get it back. The flunkies agents also found it strange that I said I didn’t like flying. When they asked “why not,” I said “because I have to deal with bullshit like this.”
Then they asked to search my bag. I started to laugh.
They open the bag, and see that I’m traveling with exactly one t-shirt, one toothbrush, one pair of socks, a pair of underwear, and 50 porn movies, which they lay out on the table one by one.
They asked me why I was traveling with nothing but porn. I said “I’m not sure I have to answer that, but I’ll tell you anyway — it is for the troops.”
“For the troops?” asked the
“Yes, my friend is serving in Iraq, and he said that the only thing he wants in care packages is pornography. I am sending these to him and the other guys in his platoon as my way of showing support for the troops.”
To their credit, the mood then changed. They shook my hand and let me go on my way. Looks like I was one of the 160,000 hassled for no reason. At least I might have given the TSA idiots something to talk about at the water cooler.
Ken at Popehat (where I heard about this story) assesses the BDO program as follows:
How does that lower-than-one-percent success rate compare with, say, just stopping people randomly, or stopping people wearing purple, or stopping people based on numerological or astrological principles? (I’m looking at you, you goddamn Pisceses!) Well, we don’t know, because TSA doesn’t conduct such inquiries. They just rely on the assessment of the guy in the poly-blend shirt whose Cracker Barrel assistant manager interview went poorly, based on his training by the people who make airport security run so smoothly. And meanwhile, subservience to government intrusion — including intrusion based on junk science incompetently applied — is further normalized among the populace. (source)
Ken has it exactly right. This isn’t about making us “safe.” This is about making us get used to being stopped, questioned, and searched, so that when they implement it on the streets, we won’t resist as much.