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Transportation Security

Airport Profilers Learn to Read Facial Expressions 676

nldavepc writes "There has been a rather scary development in airport security. Airport profilers are watching people's facial expressions for clues of terrorist intent. According to the article,"Travelers at Sea-Tac and dozens of other major airports across America are being scrutinized by teams of TSA behavior-detection officers specially trained to discern the subtlest suspicious behaviors.""
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Airport Profilers Learn to Read Facial Expressions

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  • Oh Noes (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think he just gave me a terrorist look!
  • by stevedcc ( 1000313 ) * on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:53AM (#21893086)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:55AM (#21893096)
    Do you Americans realize that you are heading towards a totalitarian regime?
    • I couldn't hear you over the latest TV gossip program.

      Besides. I feel safe.
      • by LLKrisJ ( 1021777 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @12:49PM (#21896120) Journal
        ... Wait until the next disgruntled teen steps up to your favorite Wall-mart totin' a bigass shooter.

        Anyways enough of the stupid talk,

        I strongly feel that the US should focus more on taking away the causes of all this senseless terror. You might feel safe but the root of the evil is still there.

        And this evil doesn't stem from some crazy ass muslims here and there who just happen to like offing people, just because there are crazy bastards or something.

        No, these problems all arise because people, Muslims, Jews and Christians (and throw in some Hindus for good measure) alike are falling victim to injustice, thus making them susceptible to the warmongering of only a handfull of so called 'leaders'.

        The Jews got killed in WWII, so the were a bit pissed (and reasonably so). So they went of and conquered themselves some Palestinian land, thus making these guys unhappy (again, reasonably so). You end up with a bunch of Palestinians having nothing anymore, living in the stone age and no discernible way out. In a situation like that it only takes one nut to step up and say 'it's them Jews ho did this to us, lets go out and kill a few...'

        Palestinians kill some Jews, Jews blow Lebanon to pieces with some clusterboms and padabing padaboom, you have a full scale war on your hands.

        Whose fault is this? Nobodies, except maybe the allies (I explicitly don't blame the US all on it's own) from WWOII who decided to try and create Israel in the way they did. This should have been done using more diplomatic ways I think, even if that would have taken 50 years. Hell, I'm no geopolitical expert, but even a child can see what went wrong.

        Same deal with Afghanistan. Russians needed to go so Mujahedein got funded. Once the Russians were gone there was nobody to support the merging nation of Afghanistan. They ended up piss poor and frustrated, a feeding ground for extremists.

        Saddam and the whole Iran vs. Irak story... same thing.

        Why do you think North Koreans are so pissed?? Because they like to lob a nuke in our backyard and because they think this will make things better for them? NO!!!! Because they are piss poor (They were pawns in the cold war between USSR and USA) and because some Chateau-Neuf-Du-Pape drinking bastard tells them it is our fault and if we go away they wil magically become un-poor.

        The problems mentioned here are global problems, caused by the whole world just looking on instead of taking reasonable action. They are not just the USA's fault but the USA is a big player on a global scale, economically, morally and military... They should behave accordingly and not let a bunch of extremists in their own country take over.

        It's not 'them vs. us', it's not 'Christians vs. Muslims', it's about people having the right to live freely and not taking everything from them, making them blind with rage so they cannot think straight and do all kinds of stupid crap to eachother.

        The US and Europe should do something about THAT instead of herassing me at the airport because I happen to look funny (and I do sometimes, really :) ... Just my two cents
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I took a course on terrorism from a lefty commie, and according him, our text (books from other lefty commies), and common sense agree that the poorest countries in the world support less terrorism than some richer countries. You think Saudi Arabia is poor? What's their excuse? They want an Islamic country. It's ideologicial. They are attacking the US becaue they see the US supporting their modern governments. Look up Sayyid Qutb.
        • by Latinhypercube ( 935707 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @05:16PM (#21900728)
          I agree with a lot of what you have written. But it is only part of the picture. You assume all this chaos and hatred has somehow been accidental and a knock-on effect. It isn't and hasn't. It is the result of a sustained effort by various empires (namely the US). The US has consistently entered a country and separated it into 2 regions or clans or whatever and then armed them both, before raping that region of everything. Divide and conquer. Over and over again. Guns and ammunition don't build themselves. It takes investment, planning and expertise to arm an army, and a constant input of ammunition and money. The fact is most people are kept oblivious to this because the truth is so repugnant.
    • by ubernostrum ( 219442 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:38AM (#21893508) Homepage

      Oddly enough, we aren't the first country to do this, and those who have aren't totalitarian regimes. And as strange as it sounds, when done properly (admittedly, not likely given the "lowest pay and least training wins the contract" system used for American airport security) behavioral profiling is actually an effective security measure; even Bruce Schneier, a Slashdot favorite for debunking silly security theater, is in favor of behavioral profiling when done correctly [schneier.com].

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Panaqqa ( 927615 ) *
        I agree with the parent post. El Al, the Israeli airline, has been using this as part of their security arsenal for almost as long as they've been around. Made some excellent collars also, some of terrorists, occasionally a terrorist that was planning on blowing up the flight they were trying to board.

        My only concern with this is who is doing the behavioural profiling. A highly experienced security person that has undergone a comprehensive training program for behavioural profiling will be very effective.
    • by jacksonj04 ( 800021 ) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:33AM (#21894100) Homepage
      Woah, hang on a second here.

      "The government is employing state-of-the-art behaviour tracking and monitoring software? Totalitarian! They want to store all your biometric details on a chip on your passport? Totalitarian!"

      Fair enough. Now look at this:

      "Airport security are being trained to look for unusual behaviour and nervous looks on people's faces? Totalitarian!"

      I would be quite upset if airport security *weren't* trained to look for these things. It's not a faceless computer doing the work, it's not a magical checklist in the sky, it's not invasive, it doesn't need strip search, it requires you to carry no more documentation, it won't slow down security. It will help spot people doing unusual things or looking out of place with a certain element of humanity behind it. Yes this may include a few errors, but overall I'm a lot happier with a real human being trained to better spot dodgy behaviour than any of the other stuff.

      Not every change to airport security is a massive invasion of your privacy. Grow up and realise that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jahudabudy ( 714731 )
        Man, I'm glad somebody else here isn't taking crazy pills. I mean, behavior profiling is wrong?! If we shouldn't make judgments about people based on their behavior, what exactly should we use?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          ...what exactly should we use?

          Easy. Wait until a crime is committed, then look for clues to ID the perpetrator (who may be dead in some cases.) That's the security policy espoused by most Slashdotters. Interestingly, very few of them are actually responsible for physical security.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No kidding, this is about the sanest thing that's been done in the name of security in a long time, but people are so primed to hate any kind of security they're knee-jerking against this one too.

        Guess what, people? The more smart security we have, the less dumb security we'll need.

      • by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @01:07PM (#21896438) Homepage
        I would be quite upset if airport security *weren't* trained to look for these things.

        A question: can these mindreaders detect the difference between "I'm scared of being found out about something illegal" vs "I'm surly and evasive because I don't feel I should have to impress secret police with my joviality"?

        The article says that 70,000 people were referred for further screening, of which 700 were booked for some offense like drug possession, weapons charges, or outstanding warrants. So by those numbers, 99% of the people hassled by the program were innocent.

        So this super duper collection of fear-detection techniques is (a) inconveniencing the sh*t out of a ton of innocents, and (b) producing results that a blind monkey could produce just as well through sheer statistical accident.

        Color me impressed. Don't beat me, I'll smile! Go Amerikka!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The article says that 70,000 people were referred for further screening, of which 700 were booked for some offense like drug possession, weapons charges, or outstanding warrants. So by those numbers, 99% of the people hassled by the program were innocent.
          And even more importantly 0% of them were terrorists.

          Which means the program is either a 100% failure, or catching terrorists is not the intended goal - unconstitutional searches are.
  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:55AM (#21893098)
    Play more poker.
    • by st0nes ( 1120305 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:09AM (#21893234) Homepage
      Good one, but what about people like me who, due to bad experiences in the past are shit scared of authority figures? I always get stopped going through customs & immigration because I can't help looking guilty, even though I'm completely innocent. I've just resigned myself to putting up with the inconvenience of having my bags thoroughly searched and a grilling from uniforms every time I travel. I haven't been to the USA for a while, but I wouldn't be surprised to get a free trip to Guantanamo next time I go...
    • This isn't funny (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Crock23A ( 1124275 )
      Do you really think someone who is willing to hijack a plane and then fly it into a skyscraper doesn't already have a poker face? I'm also sure the would-be terrorists already travel regularly so they be well accustomed to the different facets of airport security.

      First it's facial expressions, next it will be the thought police.
  • I got a better idea, how about checking id before getting on the plane? All they do now is scan your boarding pass. Anyone could have anyone's boarding pass and get on any plane, from what it looks like.
  • *imagines the airport customs*

    I bet hes a criminal.
    Man, thats ONE scary looking bastard, and look at THAT...He has a mustage

    No ...its a lady, is that a mustage? - Oh heck...arrest her anyway.
  • Predicted long ago (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timon ( 46050 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:58AM (#21893118) Homepage
    "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."

    -- 1984 by George Orwell
  • by blcamp ( 211756 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:59AM (#21893128) Homepage

    "Don't FACE me, bro!"

  • Racial Profiling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Telephone Sanitizer ( 989116 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @08:59AM (#21893132)

    The officers ask simple questions:

    "How are you today?"

    "Where are you heading?"

    "Is this all your property?"

    "It's almost irrelevant what your answers are..."
    That's because I'm not a black grandma carting a bunch of grandkids around.

    This holiday, every person that I saw pulled out for secondary screening was an elderly black woman with a bunch of little kids.

    "We're looking for behavior indicators that show a certain level of stress, fear or anxiety above and beyond that shown by an anxious member of the traveling public."
    Wow! What a fantastically detailed legal threshold for a full body search!

    The TSA considers the program a powerful tool to root out terrorists, but also an antidote to racial profiling.
    • It avoids racial profiling but creates a new form of profiling, which basically means some new class of legitimate travelers will suffer the pain of false positives. I really worry about this kind of "expression reading" because:

      1. It targets members of society who have above-average social anxiety, or "deviate from the norm" in some other way. Geeks and Nerds could end up being "more suspicious" simply because they either have mild social anxiety, or because they are "aware" of the facial profiling, hen
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by djmurdoch ( 306849 )
        It has been shown many times that the optimal security strategy is often the one that uses perfect randomness, since there is no defense against it (see Schneier's analysis [schneier.com] and this paper [firstmonday.org]).

        Neither of those references claim that. They may point out that the current system of automatic profiling is worse than perfectly random selection, but they don't claim random selection is optimal. It's nearly useless at finding a rare individual. (If we randomly search 10% of passengers
  • by tech49er ( 824086 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:00AM (#21893146)
    Solution: Stay away from America ... if they keep going the way they're going that probably wont be such a sacrifice!
  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:00AM (#21893148)
    Honestly this is awful. From TFA -

    "When someone lies or tries to be deceptive, ... there are behavior cues that show it. ... A brief flash of fear."

    Now, creative editing aside (lotsa dots in there), what happens when I display a fear microexpression when I'm asked if I have any bomb?

    Because that's what's going to happen, because with all this overhyped security I'm tense and slightly afraid when I'm dealing with these people anyway. Why? Because they have the power, on suspiciuon alone, to really ruin my day, my entire holiday, my business trip or perhaps even my life, depending on just how far they want to take everything.

    So yes, when I get a grilling from a security agent, he's going to see fear. And the fact I now know (s)he's looking for it will make it even more likely.

    Welcome the new world where paranoia becomes a self fulfilling phenomenon.
  • by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:01AM (#21893156) Journal

    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 what they are really saying is that this technique has a 99.9% false positive rate. Nice.
  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:03AM (#21893170) Homepage
    Like every good /.er I didn't RTFA. But this reminds me of something that happened to me recently.

    I was walking down the street late at night with a friend of mine. All of a sudden he yells out, "Crap!" and starts getting all agitated.

    "What are you doing", I asked.

    "Don't look! It's the police", he replied. "I always have trouble with them. Every time I see them they follow me and then I end up getting into a hassle."

    I looked at him. Then I looked at the police. Then I waved at the police and they drove off.

    "How did you do that??", he asked incredulously.

    It never occurred to him that his nervousness was the only thing that way attracting the police's attention. For some reason he thought they had it in for him or something.

    I suspect that there will be a lot more people being detained if nervousness is a reason to detain someone. There are just people who are nervous around authority figures. And since that nervousness usually gets them into trouble, they become even more nervous. Welcome to longer lineups at the airport...
  • Scary? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by taskiss ( 94652 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:05AM (#21893188)
    I WANT the airport security looking for people acting odd. There's only so many ways someone can put themselves into a position where they can injure or kill the other passengers on a plane and having security folks check for people acting odd seems to be an obvious procedure to follow. Someone acting nervous needs to get greater scrutiny. Profile all you want 'cause I'm thinking a blue haired Grandma ain't the best candidate for security to detain and search.

    Then again, I don't insist on wearing tinfoil hats. I WANT bad guys doing bad things caught. I guess I'm in the minority here on /.
    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:24AM (#21893360)
      "Then again, I don't insist on wearing tinfoil hats. I WANT bad guys doing bad things caught. I guess I'm in the minority here on /."

      Oh me too. We all want bad guys doing bad things to be caught. But here on /. you'll find that people aren't quite as willing as average to submit to full body cavity searches in the name of their own security. Or being hassled for hours in an interrogation room because you looked at someone funny. Maybe because we're more socially dysfunctional than average and are always giving people funny looks by accident...

      You might also find the roots of the more prevalent anti-authoritarian attitude here on /. have something to do with the constant flow of stories here on /. (and, to be fair, anywhere else people with half a brain gather) about bad legislation, bad policing, corrupt or transparently bought-out government.

      I fundamentally do not agree with the current crop of legislators on who is a "bad guy doing a bad thing", and I also fundamentally disagree with using unreliable methods to detect said individuals.
    • Re:Scary? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Umuri ( 897961 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:33AM (#21893440)
      Ok, here's your scenario.

      Two people walk through airport security, one gets through, the other doesn't.

      One person is a normal citizen, who hears about the horrid things that happen to detainees and people at the hands of airport security, cannot miss their flight home to visit their grandma who is about to die from cancer, and only has the bare minimum time to get through security and onto the plane.

      The other is an actual INTERPOL top 100 criminal. They have survived for years by being able to control their outward appearance and are a master a social engineering in order to avoid security or police in localities.

      Guess which one gets through?

      There's an old saying, only the bad hackers get caught. That applies to criminals. 99% of anti-criminal measures in place such as this will only stop the poorly conceived, the unintelligent, or the unlucky. It will do nothing about people determined, intelligent, and with a plan, which is the attributes the supposed terrorists who want to blow up planes have.
      I'm all for security measures that work, but these aren't it. And that is assuming you subscribe to the group that believes they really are supposed to help catch criminals instead of just promote a more.... federally empowered american government.

      I'm not saying my stance, I'm just saying the sides you can view it from.
      • by murderlegendre ( 776042 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:17AM (#21893924)

        First and foremost, they are screening for suicide bombers and hijackers.. I think it goes without saying that it's difficult to become a seasoned, experienced suicide bomber. Likewise, with a few notable exceptions, hijackers have a pretty long track record of getting busted on their first go-round.

        While I'm sure the TSA would be perfectly happy to catch slippery international career criminals, it's the disposable cannon fodder which most concerns them. Just a guess, but I suspect that the TSA officers receive considerably more training in detecting the behavior of these types, than the criminals themselves receive in suppressing the same.

  • Yeah, Right (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ed Almos ( 584864 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:06AM (#21893200)
    Anyone seeing my facial expression as I pass through a US airport will immediately see someone pissed off at the delay, disruption and unbelieveable hassle involved with TSA controlled air travel.

    Ed Almos
  • by kieran ( 20691 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:09AM (#21893236)
    Behavioural profiling, including facial expressions, is actually one of the more effective predictors of ill intent that airport security has at it's disposal and it's been in use for years.

    Bear in mind you don't get shot for looking suspicious - you just get singled out for further attention. And it's a hell of a lot more positive than profiling on race or blocking people from flying based on their name.
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:19AM (#21893316)
    or better still make it a "guantanamo-able" offence.

    If you can't see people's eyes, it's very difficult to interpret their expressions. Obviously sunglasses-wearing travellers have something to hide. Just to be sure, ship 'em off (modern day transportation of criminals?)

    Just as a side-bar, how many of the errrr... ZERO terrorist attacks in the last couple of years would this measure have prevented?

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:21AM (#21893334) Homepage
    Do they have any way of validating that these techniques actually work?

    How did they do the experiments? Did they have a pool of real terrorists and anxious innocent passengers and a way of doing double-blind testing?

    Or was it the training just done by some expert consultants who possess an air of authority and a confident manner?

    Is this any better than using graphology on the passenger's signature... or having a computer run a quick horoscope... or following the methods of the Malleus Maleficarum? [wikipedia.org]

    Is there any, any, any reason at all to believe in the validity of these techniques?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by The Mgt ( 221650 )
      Is there any, any, any reason at all to believe in the validity of these techniques?

      You're looking at it the wrong way. Somebody somewhere is making money from this.
  • Airport Security (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:22AM (#21893344)
    I was in the airport this last weekend to pick someone up. As I sat and waited, I heard the 'if you see anything or anyone suspicious, dial 911' announcement a few dozen times.

    I hate airports to start with, and the added security and craziness makes me hate them more. So now, on top of that, my nervousness might be seen as terrorist attitude and I've got 1 -more- thing to worry about. Great!

    I heard a rumor a while back... The rumor said that we have -never- found even a single terrorist with the security we have at the airports. Not one. Since then, I have never seen a news report that says we found a terrorist at an airport. There are reports of spoiled plots, but they never involve the airport itself... They are always stopped by law enforcement.

    Has anyone got a news report they can cite to show we -have- found terrorists this way? Or are the airport security concerns just harrassing law-abiding citizens?
  • by bamwham ( 1211702 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:24AM (#21893368)
    For the last five years I have been doing the following when I fly: From the moment I step up to the TSA agent checking id's and boarding passes I look them in the eyes. I would say nine times out of ten they check my id against my boarding pass and initial the bp without ever looking up at me. I want them to do what I did when I ran a cash register at a liquor store, check the picture, check the face, check the picture again. I'm to scared that they'll ruin my day to ever point out to them that they never checked my face against the one on my id. About time some of them are at least being taught to look at our faces.
  • What, Me Worry? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pipingguy ( 566974 ) * on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:26AM (#21893386)
    I don't see what the concern is. I'll take a wild guess and propose that trained security types already know to look for body language and behaviour that indicate nervousness. People do this all the time when dealing with others; the only time this is not observed is when typing on the internet like I'm doing now.
  • by flajann ( 658201 ) <fred.mitchell@g[ ]de ['mx.' in gap]> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:29AM (#21893406) Homepage Journal
    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.

    Out of 70,000 people that were harassed by these so-called "Airport Profilers", only about 700 of them were found to be guilty of anything at all. That's a pretty lousy false-positive rate of 99%, which means, of course, 69,300 of these people were needlessly bothered and harassed and humiliated and personally violated.

    Of the 700 or so that was guilty "of something", none were found to be "terrorists".

    Am I missing something here? When was the last time a "terrorist" was found by the TSA in the US? And how much money is being spent on the TSA?

    How many people die in traffic accidents per year? 41,000 or so? How many people in the US die of terrorism in the US per year? Let's average over a decade to account for 911. Over the past ten years, an estimated 410,000 died on our roadways, yet only 3000 by terrorists. So nearly 137 times the number of people in the last 10 years died on the road vs. terrorism, and yet how much money is spent on traffic safety vs. Homeland (In)Security? Am I missing something here?

    You wonderful hard-earned gun-extracted Tax Dollars being put to such useful and meaningful work!!!

    • Yes, but.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zygote-IC- ( 512412 )
      In the worst case scenario for both examples, one is far worse.

      Let's say a busload of nuns, a busload of blind pre-schoolers, a busload of puppies and a busload of apple pies all manage, through some freak accident, to collide with a propane truck -- doing the math, that's a lot of dead nuns, kids, puppies and delicious apple pie, plus a blue collar propane truck driver.

      On the other hand, half a dozen guys with nuke components and you end up with all that and maybe a million more?

      And yes, I think nuclear te
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tbannist ( 230135 )

      Out of 70,000 people that were harassed by these so-called "Airport Profilers", only about 700 of them were found to be guilty of anything at all. That's a pretty lousy false-positive rate of 99%, which means, of course, 69,300 of these people were needlessly bothered and harassed and humiliated and personally violated.

      After thinking about this a bit one thing stood out to me:

      A lot of people criticizing the low "catch" rate of the profilers... But what's the normal "catch" rate? I mean they still do inspections, interviews and full body cavity searches even without "facial profiling". Are they harassing more or less people? Are they catching proportionally more or less people from those they harass?

      The questions are probably the most important ones when addressing the effectiveness of the program. Because if they ca

  • by Sir_Real ( 179104 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:32AM (#21893428)
    Stop being afraid.

    There it is. Can't get much simpler than that.

    That sure didn't cost 500 billion dollars (a staggering number, no matter the value of the American fiat peso these days). Nor were uncounted lives wasted on the deployment of this plan, or the occupation that followed its deployment.

    Now that the war is over, and that I've won it, can we fucking stop now? Can we have our airports back? Can we travel freely amongst ourselves without being scrutinized by the sigmoid wielding high school dropouts? Can we speak freely about liberty and freedom of speech without being branded as 9/11 accomplices?

    Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?
  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:39AM (#21893518)
    I pick the line with the female screener and just stare at her tits the whole time.
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:39AM (#21894154) Homepage Journal
      I pick the line with the female screener and just stare at her tits the whole time.

      This is the TSA. Those tits aren't very good. Even the TSA men have better tits.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        This is the TSA. Those tits aren't very good. Even the TSA men have better tits.
        So then, just look at those men's tits.

        The best way to avoid a thorough pat-down is to show them that you actually enjoy it. For some reason, the TSA screeners are really uncomfortable around gay passengers...

  • by beavis88 ( 25983 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:39AM (#21893528)
    I'm pretty sure I show all those emotions in the course of a trip through security:

    Fear: I'm afraid that these idiots are the ones in charge of "making air travel safe"
    Anger: That so many millions of people buy into the farce that is the TSA
    Surprise: That the 85 year old lady in a walker ahead of me in line seems to be the biggest prospective threat of the day
    Contempt: Take your pick.

    I guess I should stop traveling by air?
  • I gotta wonder... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JetScootr ( 319545 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:47AM (#21893628) Journal
    Do their techinques take into account people with high functioning autism, or other non-neurotypical conditions that affect body language?
    I accidentally beat a polygraph test years ago because I was so uniformly anxious that when I DID lie, the interpreter didn't see it as any different than my other responses.
    Parts of the autistic condition are severe ADHD and the inability to read or express thru facial or body expressions. The hyperactivity alone (fidgetyness) can be interpreted as sneakiness or a deceptivity-give-away. Other body language miscues produced will result what appears to be "vague, evasive responses - fear shows itself. When you do this long enough, you see it right away."
    Areas crowded with people cause me anxiety by itself, especially if more than one person is trying to talk to me - such as companions, plus airline checkin personnel, and now the body-language gestapo....oops, didn't mean Godwin this, sorry.
    I haven't been in an airport since 9/11 and I sure as hell ain't gonna go now.
  • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:30AM (#21894062) Homepage

    The officers ask simple questions:

    "How are you today?"
    "Where are you heading?"
    "Is this all your property?"

    "It's almost irrelevant what your answers are," Maccario said. "It's more relevant how you respond. Vague, evasive responses -- fear shows itself. When you do this long enough, you see it right away."

    "You're in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling towards you. You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping."

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday January 03, 2008 @10:46AM (#21894234) Homepage Journal

    Lots of slashdotters are decrying this as a bad thing.

    You're all wrong.

    This is the *right* way to do airport security. Finally!

    Take a look at the country that has the biggest terrorist problem anywhere -- Israel -- and take a look at their airport security record. The reason it's so good is simple; Israel doesn't focus on keeping bad *things* off of planes, they focus on keeping bad *people* off of planes.

    It doesn't matter how many penknives and bottles of water you confiscate, a determined terrorist can easily get something usable as a weapon on the airplane. It wouldn't be that difficult to get guns on the plane, actually. To prevent terrorist attacks in the skies, you need to keep the terrorists off the planes, not their shoes.

    Israeli airport screeners do search your stuff. Very thoroughly, in fact. But the one looking through your stuff is really just trying to make you nervous. The other one is watching your face, posture and movements, looking for responses that are wrong. He's also firing questions at you almost faster than you can answer them, sometimes asking the question multiple ways to look for evasions. Finally, he's noting key points of your answers which he's going to threaten to check -- and may actually check if the rest of it gives him any concern. "Where did you go?", "Who did you meet with?", "Do you have his business card?", etc. The answers to the questions are important, but even more important is their effect, which is to rattle you.

    I'm not trying to say that US airports should adopt the same approach. For one thing, it's too slow and way too costly to have two highly-trained officers interrogate each and every traveler for 5+ minutes. But the basic concept can be applied here: apply enough scrutiny and pressure to make people nervous, then watch their reactions. Focus more attention on those whose reactions are wrong. Who defines what "wrong" means? Experience.

    Oh, and then let people take a coke or a penknife on the airplane.

    Personally, I think we ought to back off on the whole thing. We don't have the same sort of problem with terrorism that Israel does, and aren't going to, as long as we get someone more rational to replace Bush. Sure we had 9/11 -- a fleabite in the grand scheme of things, killing less people than die on the highways each month and doing less property damage than a good-sized hurricane. Simple refusal to be terrorized, acceptance that bad things sometimes happen, is the best approach IMO. That and, in the case of aircraft, aggressive passenger response to any attempted hijacking -- oh, and keeping passengers out of the cockpit is a cheap, easy and effective change.

    If we're going to try to stop terrorism at the TSA security checkpoint, though, *this* is the right way to do it. Requiring passengers to carry their toothpaste and aftershave in a one-quart baggie is pointless security theatre.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by russotto ( 537200 )
      (about Israeli airport security)

      Finally, he's noting key points of your answers which he's going to threaten to check -- and may actually check if the rest of it gives him any concern. "Where did you go?", "Who did you meet with?", "Do you have his business card?", etc. The answers to the questions are important, but even more important is their effect, which is to rattle you.

      Apparently you DO become your enemies. Or, at least, the Stasi used the same techniques, and they presumably got it from the Gestap

  • by e-scetic ( 1003976 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:01AM (#21894430)
    Get botoxed before travelling.
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:43AM (#21895000)
    Neil Rackham, best-known for formalising the 'SPIN' sales technique, used many sources to identify high performers in person to person situations. One example I remember from his highly-readable book, is where he observed customs officers.

    Those who were better at spotting offenders commonly said it was 'instinct'. When observing those people at work, Rackham noticed that they in fact picked up verbal and non-verbal clues, (avoiding eye contact...), that could then be codified and tranferred to others via training.
  • by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @11:54AM (#21895176) Journal

    Some people are extremely afraid of misidentification. Can the screeners distinguish between terrorists who are afraid of being caught and lawful citizens who are afraid of being killed on the spot by overzealous counterterrorism agents who misread a facial expression or two?

  • TSA Training (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ixtl ( 1022043 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @12:00PM (#21895292)
    To my shame and discredit, I was a TSA Security Officer for about four years (Somebody had to pay the bills while my wife went through med school). If this new program follows any of their other training procedures, it's essentially worthless. They introduced a position for a specially trained "Bomb Appraisal Officer" whom you call in when you see a potential explosive device on the x-ray screen or in a bag search, and this officer's job is to decide whether to call the Bomb Squad. The intense training regimen for this position was two thirty-minute CD-ROMs sent from headquarters. How that is supposed to turn an average screener into an explosives expert, I couldn't say. Aside from a handful of improvements, mostly in terms of physical security (locks, fences around airfields, reinforced cockpit doors) TSA is just window dressing--an elaborate and expensive sleight-of-hand to make the public think that their government is "doing something" about terrorism. But I was obscenely overpaid to do a very simple job for a few years, so I guess I shouldn't complain.
  • Cultural differences (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kbahey ( 102895 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @01:14PM (#21896542) Homepage
    This is amazing.

    Does anyone know how culture factors in here?

    Things that are expected to be "nice" in US culture is rude in others. Examples are looking someone in the eye. In the US, it is expected, while it is insolent in many other cultures. Not looking someone in the eye can mean disrespect, evasion, sneakiness, ...etc.

    This is going to be fun to watch, unless you are the suspect that is ...
  • thoughtcrime (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday January 03, 2008 @03:28PM (#21899070)
    "microfacial expressions -- a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt"

    Hmm, I am quasi-"middle-eastern" looking (half Indian), have contempt (and possibly surprise and anger) for government agents bothering me with nosy questions, and fear of being secretly whisked away and imprisoned in a legal limbo. So I guess that makes me an immediate suspect. If they asked me where I was going, I would probably say "home". Vague and elusive? Hells yeah.
  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:48AM (#21905750)
    [blockquote]For example, in some cultures people don't make eye contact with people in authority.[/blockquote]

    I seldom make eye contact with TSA officers, police or other such 'people in authority'. Which is quite sensible since they would quickly see my ever so strong desire to cut them up into little pieces and feed them to sharks. I fucking hate these overgrown-schoolyard-bully morons. I do not exaggerate when I say that I would so happily kill any one of them without even a moments hesitation if the chance arose to do it without dying or going to prison. And all of my fellow Americans who want to keep this country headed right into the oh so super secure abyss of totalitarianism. F U. And please die. I look at these modern day SS officers with the hate and disgust that they so richly deserve. Seriously folks it's getting to the point where our government needs to go down. Hard.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"