Beware the “Behavior Detection Officers!”

I’ve said before that I’ve not taken a plane flight since 9/11 and with the growing absurdity that is airport security getting worse by the day I may never bother to fly again.

Patti Davis: At the Airport, You Better Smile – Newsweek National News – MSNBC.com

“Specially trained security personnel” will be watching passengers for “micro-expressions” that will reveal treacherous agendas and insidious intentions at airports around the country. These agents, who may literally hold your fate in their hands have been given a lofty, Orwellian name: “Behavior Detection Officers.”

Sir, you’re not smiling enough. Aren’t you happy you’re going on a plane trip? Don’t you just love flying? I’ll have to ask you to come over to the nice officer with the rubber glove on his hand and drop your trousers. Have a nice day!

In the study of “micro-expressions”—yes, it is actually a field of study and there are some who are arrogant enough to call it a science—it has been decided that when people wish to conceal emotions, the truth of their feelings is revealed in facial flashes. These experts have determined that fear and disgust are the key things to look for because they can hint of deception.

Let’s see, fear and disgust in an airport? I’m frightened and disgusted weeks before I have to show up at an airport. In fact, I’ve pretty much sworn off the whole idea of going anywhere by airplane. It’s bad enough that I might be trapped in a crowded plane with no food or water and nonworking toilets for hours; now there are security agents interpreting our facial expressions. The face police, in place at more than a dozen U.S. airports already, aren’t identified as such. But the watcher could be at curbside baggage, the ticket counter or near the metal detectors and X-ray machines. The Transportation Security Administration hopes to have as many as 500 Behavior Detection Officers on the job by the end of 2008.

How much longer before they start offering cash rewards for people to turn each other in at the slightest suspicion that they may be up to no good? All thanks to President Dumb Ass Bush!

13 thoughts on “Beware the “Behavior Detection Officers!”

  1. I’ve flown once shortly after 9/11 and it would take a very compelling reason to get me to fly ever again.

    The current-day security theater and the “cram as many sardines into the can as possible” travesty of service is not something I want to expose myself to. Not to forget about the invasion of privacy. I’ll drive a car, take a train, or stay at home, thank you very much.

  2. Back in April I traveled overseas to visit a friend. No problems going, but coming back the airline had screwed up our return tickets. I was pissed, and while the airline was trying to fix it (I insisted they find me a flight, didn’t care with who, just that I got home as soon as possible) I went outside to smoke and vent. I was well away from the doors to the terminal, talking (not yelling, just talking) with my daughter, pacing and venting. This caught the attention of Security who felt the need to come over and check my ID and figure out if I was a threat or not. I am sure that many terrorists travel with their 12.5 year old daughter, and stand in plain sight, outside the terminal so as not to cause any problems, smoke and vent. I must have been a big threat right?
    And of course there was the fact that my 12.5 year old got flagged to go through their super sniffer to make sure she didn’t have any explosives…because many U.S. citizens that are 12.5 year old girls are really terriorts in disguise.
    It all made me wonder who might have gotten away with what while they were sniffing my child with the super sensors and talking to me to make sure that I wasn’t just a pissed off traveler who needed a smoke after 12 hours of not smoking.
    Man, I hate the shrub!

  3. What are the Iraelis doing that everyone seems we should copy in our airport security?  Or is it national security that Homeland Security/FBI/CIA/Secret Service should be taking notes from?  I can’t remember what we were supposed to learn from the Israelis.

  4. I have flown a couple times since 9/11, one over seas and all was fine.  Now I am becoming less and less inclined to get out.

  5. Before 9/11 there was a problem with Americans becoming too familiar with foreigners and rejecting the isolationism necessary for political control. I guess this is one way to fix this, and the note that the NSA is listening in on your conversations overseas and recording what you say for un-American keywords the other.

    I believe in a healthy level of paranoia, but these days we’re basically right into wringing our hands and convinced that the mailman is out to poison us. DHS needs to pull its head out of its ass and remove the tinfoil hat before it becomes too firmly lodged.

  6. Yep, definitely borrowing the idea from El Al.  But between the additional bureaucracy and the usual results of giving people too much authority for their anyone’s good (the hallmark of Dubya’s gub’mint if ever was), expect the predictable half-@$$ed effort and three-@$$ed travesty.

    But looking on the bright side…compared to what’s come from the WH, at least the basic idea was sound. For a change.  Usually we get the worst of both worlds:  The @#$*ed-up implementation of a @#$*ed-up idea.

  7. This isn’t? Frankly I don’t give a damn how “suspicious” anyone on the plane is. These days I don’t even care if they’ve got box-cutters, nail clippers, or if they’ve been drinking so much that they smell like a brewery. Being boorish and stupidly armed in a confined room with a group of people terrified of being named off on a “war” memorial? So what? I care about:

    1. Explosives. I don’t care about shitty explosives either – if all the stuff to make the “bomb” has to come out of shampoo bottles and arranged in-flight with a chemistry set then suddenly it just doesn’t sound particularly threatening. “Hey buddy, that better be a cocktail you’re mixing in the test tube and pouring into that pipe…” I don’t think so.

    Real bombs? I think that’s worthwhile.

    2. Guns. People shooting each other isn’t something I’d really call to the level of a national security emergency unless they’d doing it by strapping machineguns to the wings of the 747s before takeoff and strafing Baltimore, but on the other hand you’d think that we’d be pretty good at keeping them off planes by now, so why not?

    3. Keeping people out of the cockpit. Unless you can turn one of those big-ass planes into a fireball I don’t care. Or rather, I don’t think it’s worth investing billions of dollars into hiring some dumbass to watch for me “being twitchy”, with the authority to order me to let some guy shove his fingers up my ass looking for something incriminating. The airlines can’t keep track of their baggage handlers enough to keep my suitcase arriving in the same country as I do all the time, the idea that they’re invest the same sterling hiring practices in transportation authority to play “where’s my finger” with civilians just isn’t a good idea – especially when you’re basing it off of some idiot socio/psychologist’s 37 cent thesis/ contract pitch.

    The DHS would have been a great idea sixty years ago, or if the White House had the balls to de-fund and remove the agencies that DHS rolls around in bed looking for sloppy seconds with. If we’d not just plastered a “what can we do to do something” agency on top of all the other agencies that were already doing things fairly successfully? That might have worked – if you’d absolutely ditched the FBI and NRO, the NSA and the Pentagon, shuffled the Marines and the Army inot “DHS Superduper Infantry” or something cock-eyed like that? After the dust settled, it might have worked. Best yet, it would have taken Bush’s entire Presidency and his entire god-drunk attention to work out – no wars overseas while you’re trying to figure out who buys the defenders of the free world’s staplers.

  8. I can’t wait to see what ( wannabe FBI CIA ) shit head they hire for such a position. I do fly from time to time. I have never had a problem. But I look like I am either in the Military or a Cop. I have always said I would bend over and fart real loud if they ever confronted me with their bullshit. Followed by the statement ” Will that save me from you looking up my ass ” And then get as close to his face as possible and just bust out laughing at him.

  9. Whenever I read articles on SEB about flying, I get to wonder. I fly long-distance (half-way around the world, return) about once a year, and maybe 2-3 domestic flights per year too.

    Maybe the rest of the world IS more courteous and relaxed than the US, because I never had any serious problems. Okay, for me, most flights ARE happy ocassions (see friends + family!), so I may approach it more positively. Or maybe it is cheap carriers (have never flown with a budget airline yet – admittedly at least partly because there are none covering my routes).

  10. I read somewhere that El-Al has a much smaller number of passengers to clear than any airline at a major American hub. So their methods may not scale up.  Also, they’ve been doing behavior analysis for a long time and this IS an attempt to copy that.  Of course we may not do it as well.

    Presumably, El-Al has had enough experience with terrorists to get a much larger baseline for behavioral analysis.

  11. We flew overseas two months ago and had no major problems. Then again, our “micro-expressions” (not to mention our macro-utterances) most assuredly revealed our attitudes regarding our nine-hour delay at Chicago O’Hare coming home.

  12. This program will last until some senator or congressman gets harrassed because he gets a look of disgust on his face from seeing a same sex couple hold hands, or someone who look Arab or what have you.

  13. I saw a TV show in which FBI agents with this training watched a clip of Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sex with that woman.”  They pointed out that he raised his brows when he said it, and that indicated that he was lying.

    Now watch one of President Bush’s press conferences.  Just about any time he looks at the audience while speaking, he squinches his eyebrows together.  Very shifty-eyed, I think.

    Make of that what you will.

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