Behavioral Detection Experts at Superbowl

What country would do this?

For the first time, TSA Behavior Detection Officers, who are trained to observe characteristics indicating a person is about to engage in wrongdoing, will patrol the Super Bowl. TSA will also deploy their Visible Intermodal Protection and Response (VIPER) teams and additional National TSA resources.

In plain English:

For the first time Sunday, federal behavior-detection officers will team with local police to use a controversial technique on people heading to a major event, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says. The officers usually work in airports.

A flagged person gets a casual interview from an officer who determines if he or she should be formally questioned or arrested.

Welcome to the New America.

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  • Display: Sort:
    What next? No excessive (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Anne on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 10:12:30 PM EST
    celebration in the stands?  Hands folded, no cheering, polite hand-clapping only?

    I am so, so reassured that the "experts" will be patrolling the stands, on the lookout for "suspicious" attendees.

    Are they sure they shouldn't rename the program, something like Infantile Dolts who Interrogate Outwardly Tame Sports fans?

    Hey (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 08:12:03 AM EST
    What next?  No excessive celebration in the stands?  Hands folded, no cheering, polite hand-clapping only

    They get a 15 yard penalty for that, which means they have to watch the rest of the game from the TV's in the bathrooms.


    "VIPER" is cute (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by lambert on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 11:29:28 PM EST
    But wouldn't "WEASEL" be more appropriate?

    Hopefully these "experts" have spent (none / 0) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 07:18:57 PM EST
    a lot of time at sports bars watching people get drunk watching games and understand that these interviews are largely going to be rather hard to follow - and sometimes probably hostile - especially if there is a big play going down at the time.

    a friend sent me this link (none / 0) (#3)
    by zyx on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 07:20:52 PM EST

    izzat nuts or what?

    oops (none / 0) (#4)
    by zyx on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 07:22:04 PM EST
    That's sad... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 10:02:21 AM EST
    Tyranny toys...break 'em while they're young.

    I wouldn't worry too much, I spent two years of my childhood wearing camo and touting a toy M-16 playing Vietnam everyday...I grew up to be an anti-war anti-state pothead gambler...hopefully I'm the norm and not the exception:)


    Maybe these (none / 0) (#5)
    by SOS on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 07:25:16 PM EST
    clowns need to be reminded what year it is.


    very, very (none / 0) (#12)
    by Blowback on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 03:09:56 AM EST

    They are really big (none / 0) (#6)
    by SOS on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 07:59:45 PM EST
    on this kind of stuff now in England.

    Englands pretty much an Orwellian State now.

    It's why I get nervous... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 10:04:28 AM EST
    when people cry for liberal-preogressive socialism here at home...I look across the pond and think I don't wanna live like that Jack...it's getting crazy in the UK.

    ya get (none / 0) (#7)
    by txpolitico67 on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 09:43:08 PM EST
    whatcha vote for...

    After the "casual conversation" (none / 0) (#9)
    by joanneleon on Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 10:14:16 PM EST
    I wonder what would be required to arrest someone.

    Can someone be arrested and detained just because these so-called experts just decided that the person seemed suspicious?  Or would they have to have found a weapon or another type of evidence?  

    I hope that at some point in the near future, the government has to prove that this TSA program is effective because otherwise, it's the kind of thing that could easily become a very slippery slope.

    I get the creeps every time I go through airport security, wondering who is assessing me and such.  I never have a damn thing to hide, but how long will it be before some rogue or incompetent TSA agent decides that he/she thinks I do?

    Well, I personally feel that whenever I (none / 0) (#11)
    by No Blood for Hubris on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 12:33:56 AM EST
    encounter a Bushist fascist, I feel that I am meeting someone who is about to engage in wrongdoing.

    Is that uh -- wrong of me?

    Phillip K. Dick Would Have Loved The TSA (none / 0) (#13)
    by john horse on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 07:17:00 AM EST
    In the movie Minority Report (based on the book by Philip K. Dick) a special police department called "Precrime" apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics termed "precogs".

    How is that substantially different than "TSA Behavior Detection Officers, who are trained to observe characteristics indicating a person is about to engage in wrongdoing"?


    Is this project so bad (none / 0) (#15)
    by nyjets on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 08:58:59 AM EST
    I mean, they are not arresting anyone on suspicion. If someone acts unusually, a cop will have a chat with that person. They are not going to be arrested or detained or anything like that.
    When you consider the number of lunatics there are in this world, this does seem to be a sensible action to make.

    But in America... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 09:43:02 AM EST
    I've always believed you have the right to say "f*ck off" when the police or other state agents want to question you.

    What happens when the "suspect" says "f*ck off"?

    Yeah, the world is a dangerous place, always will be.  It need not be a tyrannical place as well.


    You want that right? (none / 0) (#21)
    by nyjets on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 04:31:22 PM EST
    You want the right to be rude and obnoxious to the cops?

    Butyes, you do have the right not to answer any questions. And the cops then have the right to keep an eye on you.


    Hell yeah I do... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by kdog on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 10:39:18 AM EST
    hassling somebody when they're going about their business just cuz you don't like the look of 'em is tyrannically rude.

    I personally wouldn't say "f*ck off", though we have the right the authorities often don't respect that right, which leads to more hassles, or worse...one of their cages.  I say whatever will get them out of my hair the fastest...aka be dishonest and sneaky as per our values.


    Where is that right? (none / 0) (#28)
    by nyjets on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 02:33:16 PM EST
    Where does it say we have the right to be rude and obnoxious?

    Free speech does not or should not mean telling someone to f**k off just because they annoy you.

    And a cop asking you a simple question does not automataically mean they are hassling you.


    That's exactly how I read the First.... (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by kdog on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 02:39:35 PM EST
    free speech includes rude and/or obnoxious speech...yes.  Of course, we should be kind and courteous to each other, but it is not required or codified.

    And I disagree, impeding my movement to question me is a hassle when I've broken no law.  I don't mind if it is a stranger asking directions...happy to help.  I do mind when it is a state agent with the authority to chain me...I'm weird that way, but within my rights.


    Wow (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 03:05:20 PM EST
    You are naive. THe only reason not to say f*ck off is so you do not get tasered.

    No police is starting polite conversation, no person should engage save to ask if you are being detained.

    Rude... lol

    this is not about polite society it is about abuse of power.


    Security experts and progressives (none / 0) (#16)
    by jerry on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 09:34:39 AM EST
    generally considered behavioral profiling a good thing.  For example, Bruce Schneier, and others, a few years back, said this was a good thing, especially since the usual alternative was either a) racial profiling, or b) mass inspections of people clearly not going to cause any problems (the 80 year old grandmothers in a wheelchair.)

    Here's Schneier on behavioral profiling

    as a control, here's Schneier on NY Subway searches.

    And here he is interviewing Kip Hawley

    I don't know if they still do this, but apparently Israel and El Al was well regarded for their practice of behavioral profiling which made their terminals and flights safe, without having to use mass inspections or racial profiling.

    Freedom Fighters Or Terrorists (none / 0) (#22)
    by squeaky on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 05:28:24 PM EST
    Same with using the term behavorial profiling v racial profiling.

    ... the Israeli airports authority stated that it "treats all passengers with respect, and rejects claims of inappropriate or discriminatory treatment of the Arab population ... We regret that steps are occasionally taken that cause discomfort. These steps are taken to assure the safety of millions of passengers".

    But Arab citizens, says the report, "are collectively, and almost automatically, subject to security inspection that is not imposed on Jewish passengers, and is based on a security perception that persistently views them as a threat".


    And let's say that there is such a thing a non biased selection. It still doesn't make me feel safer having goons decide on whether my behavior fits into their range of normal.


    Question.... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 09:51:40 AM EST
    Sun god forbid some cat tries to strap on a bomb and go to the Super Bowl...how is this gonna help?

    The type who believes in blowing up the Super Bowl doesn't think he/she is doing anything wrong...they are fighting a just war against infidels in their warped minds, they are doing right in their warped minds. So how is a "behavior detection officer" gonna sense impending wrong-doing when the wrong-doer doesn't think he/she is doing anything wrong, in fact they think they're doing right?

    I got nervous for a sec because anytime I go to a sporting event/concert I'm breaking the law by carrying a spliff...but then I realized in my heart and mind I'm not doing anything wrong, so I'm not too worried about a behavior detection officer using their spidey-sense on me:)  Unless their just detecting nervousness...and who doesn't get nervous around armed mercenaries who have the power to cage you?  They'll be stoppin' everybody except the off-duty mercenaries in that case.

    Behavioral Profiling Unproven (none / 0) (#23)
    by john horse on Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 08:57:50 PM EST
    According to the newspaper article Jeralyn linked to, here is ACLU's objection to this behavioral profiling.  

    The American Civil Liberties Union says that the technique is unproven and that its use at a stadium sets an alarming precedent for police inquiries.

    "Police shouldn't be stopping and questioning people unless they have some credible reason to suspect them. Behavior detection is just too vague," ACLU analyst Barry Steinhardt said. He noted sarcastically, "If we're going to use this at high-profile sporting events, why not start using it on streets?"

    Lets talk about the basis of this objection.  That it is unproven.  Before any of you advocate another concession of our civil liberties you might ask yourself these questions.  Whats the scientific basis for behavioral profiling?  How do we know that behavioral profiling is a valid technique?  

    For example, one of the behaviors that they profile is direct eye contact.  In some cultures direct eye contact is thought of as an indication that someone is lying. Some people think it is a sign of disrepect.  In other cultures, it is a sign of disrespect to look someone in the eye.  So if the same behavior can have different interpretations how can you argue that profiling based on behavioral characteristics has any validity?

    Jerry has a link to Bruce Schneier where Schneier advocates an "intuition-based sort of profiling".  I don't know what an intuition based sort of profiling is but my intuition says that the validility of this technique is probably unproven.

    Tasers Too No Doubt (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 12:00:37 AM EST
    If instant compliance is not met we may see this sort of thing:
    University of Wisconsin football fans Roman and Margaret Hiebing, who have strong ties to the university, have filed claims against the state of Wisconsin claiming police officers used excessive force, including a Taser, when arresting Margaret for sitting in the wrong place at the crowded Penn State football game in October.


    And then there are many people on the autistic spectrum cannot bear eye contact. Some are high functioning, successful sports fans that may love to go to sports events.

    Some of those folks are not so good at direct questioning either and do poorly with police folk.

    Other people with mental health issues that are not a threat to anyone also may seem odd to the behavioral profiling police.

    Will these people be yanked and tasered too. Another horrible taser story from digby where police got it wrong and went into sadistic madness:

    One of the most distrubing aspects of the use of taser torture devices is its common use on the mentally ill. Here, you have schizophrenic man, in custody, tasered and pepper sprayed mercilessly because he wouldn't come out of his cell. He finally did when they told him he could call his mother.


    The guy should have never been put in a cell to begin with. He needed medication. Even when the guys mother, brother and girlfriend told the police that was the suspect was schizophrenic and needed hospital attention the police refused.


    In theory (none / 0) (#26)
    by Lora on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 11:18:56 AM EST
    I don't mind in theory watching the crowd and focusing on people who may be ready to commit a crime.  Crime prevention is a good thing.

    I remember my frustration years ago when I felt afraid in a public place and asked police to keep an eye on a certain individual who were (I thought) doing something mildly illegal and seemed threatening to me.  The police told me they could do nothing unless a "crime" was committed.  My frustration was that I asked them simply to keep an eye out, nothing else, and they basically refused to do even that.  I did not like waiting for someone to actually do me harm before I could obtain any kind of help.

    And in theory a casual interview could clarify behavior that was indeed innocent but appeared threatening.

    However, anything beyond that does seem a violation of civil rights.  And, knowing how the police abuse power, I have my doubts that they would use their power strictly and fairly to protect the public.

    Yes Preemptive Power (none / 0) (#27)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 12:45:48 PM EST
    AKA Bush doctrine, is clearly going to be abused. As scary as it may make the world I am less scared by than that than unbridled police and military power.

    The exclusionary rule has been a check on police abuse of power. Now that it is barely alive we will start to see more and more abuse because the police are mostly predatory animals that need cages aka laws that check their power.


    I am in Tampa.. (none / 0) (#31)
    by fly on Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 04:19:51 PM EST
    I just wonder if these 5 guys I saw yesterday with spiked hair coming out straight and punked through the top of their cowboy hats qualify for questioning?????????
    I was just sipping my coffee by the edge of the intercoastal..and they walked by looking rough and gruff...lmao.....heck as a lifelong flight crew of one of the 9/11 airlines , I would not trust TSA for anything!!..but then again..maybe I am now suspicious because I am so normal looking!!
    I went to a superbowl party yesterday and there were lots of weird looking people!! So seems to me TSA will be mighty busy!!

    This is nuts..