Last updated: 12:30 PM ET, Fri July 29 2016

Meet The TSA Employees Who Monitor Your Body Language

Airlines & Airports | Gabe Zaldivar | July 29, 2016

Meet The TSA Employees Who Monitor Your Body Language

Photo courtesy TSA

Are you a heavy sweater? Are you prone to fidgeting? In either case, you might want to skip past this story.

The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney, in writing for The Middle Seat, covers the Transportation Security Administration’s behavior detection program.

For the uninitiated, this is a crack squad employed at various airports who scour the expanse of their beat and look for any untoward body language.

As McCartney states, these TSA-trained investigators are looking for that wonderfully vague instance of “mal-intent.”

As the report continues, this could be any of 94 human indicators that get added together and assessed on the spot.

And if you are, say, wearing a big coat in the dead of August, fidget with your bags and act odd when pressed with simple questions, then you are probably going to get enhanced screening.

The following video features McCartney on The Wall Street Journal’s Lunch Break, explaining the nuances of an elaborate screening process that costs the TSA $200 million of its $5 billion annual budget.

McCartney goes into depth on the program and its process, which includes five days of extra instruction outside what they are mandated to complete thanks to TSA training, two days of live training and a written test every year.

The other item of note is that there are about seven of these body detection officers for every supervisor, so, seemingly, each team is carefully managed, via McCartney.

READ MORE: Man Arrested At Airport After In-Flight Drunken Burp Fest

The WSJ reporter also offers on the video that these specialized officers do experience, “some annual recurrent training and testing.”

As noted, there has been a great deal of worry surrounding the program and the possibility of racial profiling. But when it comes to how the TSA cultivated its playbook, the report states indicators and other alarm bells were garnered from practices employed by the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.

The other noted issue comes in the form of the Government Accountability Office and its close look at the BDO program. It found that there is a tenuous tie between scouting out scores of travelers and actually finding evil intent.

This just gives you one more thing to worry about as you arrive late to the airport after oversleeping, pouring sweat from the jog from the parking lot.


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