The U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) said recently that DHS may have wasted $1 billion on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program.
SPOT is a behavior observation and analysis program which places TSA Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs) in the country’s airport with the goal of spotting terrorists by detecting “anomalous” or suspicious behavior. The anomalous behavior which includes perspiration, fidgeting and restlessness among others, is supposed to be the result of high levels of stress, fear, or deception. Individuals who exhibit anomalous behavior are subject to additional security screening.
NBC News reports that GAO concluded in its report that available evidence does not support the approach that behavioral indicators can be used to identify individuals who may pose a risk to aviation security.
According to a report in HLS News Wire the GAO reviewed four meta-analyses which included more than 400 studies from the past sixty years and found that the human ability accurately to identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral indicators is “the same as or slightly better than chance.” Moreover, a DHS April 2011 study conducted to validate SPOT’s behavioral indicators did not demonstrate SPOT’s effectiveness because of study limitations, including the use of unreliable data.
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