Scorn

For those who feel the need to heap scorn on an agency of the federal government, we have a better candidate than the FCC. We have the SPOT program, an acronym for Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques.

This is the part of Security Theater whereby "Behavioral Detection Officers" (BDOs) employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) scan the crowds at airports for "suspicious behavior," such as signs of "stress, fear or deception."

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a 2010 report, looked at SPOT and decided that it didn't work. The congressional watchdog concluded that the system was so unreliable that the TSA could catch as many bad guys simply by grabbing people at random.

At the time, we expressed the hope that Congress would get the message and shut it down, but the program continued and recently went under the GAO's microscope yet again.

This time, the GAO concluded it still doesn't work and recommended that we "limit future funding" until it can be shown that the system works.

The SPOT program has been evolving since 2003 and now employs some 3,000 BDOs. It has cost taxpayers $900 million. It has harassed thousands of innocent passengers and "caught" numerous miscreants carrying fraudulent documents or undeclared currency, but the GAO has yet to find any evidence that the system has contributed anything at all to aviation security.

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