The TSA has finally managed to successfully turn the airports into a dragnet that pulls in large numbers of people guilty of all kinds of minor offenses that have nothing at all to do with terrorism.
"In the SPOT program, we have a conversation with (passengers) and we ask them about their trip," said Maccario from his office in Boston. "When someone lies or tries to be deceptive, ... there are behavior cues that show it. ... A brief flash of fear."
Such people are referred for secondary screening, which can include a pat-down search and an X-ray exam. The microfacial expressions, he said, are the same across many cultures.
Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrants.
So they have a systematic process of harrassing travellers. For every 100 travellers that they detain and harrass they find one person guilty of a "crime." Most of those crimes involve warrants out for things like unpaid parking tickets, possession of illegal drugs (a victimless crime), and "weapons violations" (unregistered firearms or knives that are outside local municipal rules likely possessed by people who aren't even planning to get on a plane and may not even know they are illegal, etc)...
As long as there is a risk of terrorism this system will be perpetuated, but its real purpose is in enforcing a myriad of laws regulating behavior that is at best only illegal because of its secondary social effects and not because it is directly harmful to anyone, and at worst is a direct effort at social control by narrow minded and powerful people.
The next time some TSA person smiles at you and asks how your day is going think of this passage from 1984:
He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself — anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.
I know I will, and I know I'll be in for secondary screening while they try to determine whether my rage at their assault on the freedom this country once knew is a sign that I'm hiding something they can charge me for. Some day, perhaps, that rage itself will be illegal.
Airport profilers: They're watching your expressions