Dear Dirty America

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Boston TSA to Go Israeli On Your Flying Experience

August 04
17:57 2011
AOL Travel Staff writes:

Under a new pilot program kicking off in a little more than a week at Boston Logan International Airport, TSA employees will pose a variety of questions to passengers and determine whether or not they pose a threat based on their verbal and physical reactions to the queries.

Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques is a method commonly used in Israel, where it has been fairly successful, but some doubt TSA agents, not exactly renowned for their sensitivity, are the keenest observers of subtlety.

“The question is obviously, what is the quality of the verbal interaction that is going to be implemented?” Rafi Ron, a former Logan consultant, told the Boston Herald. “If it will have a poor quality, then obviously it will be another way to waste taxpayer money and increase the hassle to passengers. If not, then this will be great.”

The program will require passengers to answer several questions as they hand over their boarding passes – basic stuff along the lines of, “Where are you headed?”

The aim is to analyze so-called micro-expressions – small, involuntary emotional reactions to stimuli. People who seem tense or untrustworthy or respond by shouting “death to America!” will be given full body scans.


My mind is racing with obvious criticisms to this kind of extremist passenger safety measure. If you haven’t read the full excerpt posted above, you should do so. I think it’s worth it. What happens in Boston airports will probably not stay in Boston. Your local TSA staff may soon be asking you questions about where you’re heading, and what your intention is.

First, the Israeli Observation Techniques is a fairly successful method? Successful how? Has Israel stopped a lot of underwear bombers and creative terrorists because of how they answered the questions? Maybe so.

Can the TSA be that keen and clever to a) ask the right questions that the proper Israeli method requires? and b) detect the micro-expressions of a possible terrorist? The TSA are not highly-trained Israeli soldiers and terrorist experts. Or at least they don’t act like it.

Thirdly, what kind of nervous micro-expressions would an “underwear bomber” display that an anxious, uncomfortable airline passenger wouldn’t? I’m extremely nervous in all situations, even while I’m relaxing. If some TSA agent begins asking me questions just after she’s dumped a poor handicapped man’s urine bag all over him, I’m going to be incredibly nervous and my micro-expressions will be macro-expressions that betray a reckless, jangled nervous system.

Only the terrorists have to worry! That’s the usual catcall with these people. If you ain’t done nothing wrong then you ain’t got nothing to worry about. But in America, we execute innocent people. We have no problem torturing innocent people. The TSA and Homeland Security have no issue with detaining and interrogating a student with Arabic flashcards. 

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