TSA – Hooked on a Feelin’

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Head of  TSA Operations John Pistole has indicated that the TSA may shift more towards behavioral screening methods used by Israeli security and reduce physical screening activities in US airports.

“I’m very much interested in expanding the behavior detection program, upgrading it if you will, in a way that allows us to….have more interaction with a passenger just from a discussion which may be able to expedite the physical screening aspects,” Pistole said during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. “So, we’ve looked at what works around the world, some outstanding examples and we are planning to do some new things in the near future here.”

TSA already has officers looking for physiological or psychological signs of potential trouble in 161 airports, but the new approach will involve more conversations with passengers – and potentially reduce the number and scope of the current physical pat-downs that passengers routinely receive today.

Dreadmonger spoke with Airport security guards  in Pocatello, Idaho, Minneapolis, Minnesota,  and Omaha, Nebraska, all of whom were hopeful of future careers with the TSA.

“I’ll have to hear a good deal more about this,” said Arnold Scnafheiser, a security professional at the Omaha airport. “I think this talk therapy has limited application as compared to a good old-fashioned enhanced pat-down. Got to get in there and check ’em out. All there is to it.”

Rosalie “Spuds” Melly, a security guard in Minneapolis, Minnesota, seemed to agree with Schnafheiser. “I’m not sure I like the direction I’m seeing here from Director Pistole.”  Melly went on to explain, in great detail, all of the potential hiding places on the male and, especially, the female human body that could be used to secret a weapon.” I just think at some point you got to get in there and feel around, you know? I mean, to be fully effective, you know?”

Melly went on to say, “I do kind of like those new body scanners, though. Those are pretty good. Yah, wouldn’t mind being assigned to work one of those, you know? Just awesome technology there.”

Jeffery Wratton, part of the Pocatello, Idaho Airport security team, went on to say, “I have been a security professional for 27 years and I have personally never missed a single thing during a pat down. Just look at that underwear guy. How’d you expect to know what he was carrying, unless you checked him out?”

When Dreadmonger pointed out that TSA security personnel were unsuccessful in detecting the incendiary device carried by the so-called “underwear bomber”, Wratton replied, “Well, there you have it. Even the most thorough physical search is somewhat limited in its efficacy. How much less so, I argue, will be this 20 questions approach Director Pistole is advocating?”.

Dreadmonger forwarded the concerns voiced by security professionals to TSA officials. At this writing, we are still awaiting their response.

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  1. TSA to debut ‘Israeli-style’ airport screening – Patriot Update « Gds44's Blog

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