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Feds begin "behavior monitoring" of air travelers this year


[Via the Independent Institute. Another reason to get your own pilot's 
license for shorter flights. It's not that expensive. See
http://www.aopa.org/learntofly/ and, for a $59 introductory flight:
http://www.beapilot.com/ --Declan]

---


AIRPORT SCREENING TO BECOME MORE INTRUSIVE, BUT NOT MORE EFFECTIVE

This year the U.S. Transportation Security Agency will begin behavior 
monitoring of airplane passengers at 40 major American airport, reports 
Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & 
Liberty. "The screeners," writes Eland in his latest op-ed, "will look 
for 'suspicious' signs that might indicate a passenger could be a 
terrorist: having dry lips or a throbbing carotid artery (I'm not 
kidding), failure to make eye contact with or say hello to the screener, 
or evasive or slow answers to casual questions asked by the screener."

Eland notes several flaws with this approach: It hasn't been 
field-tested for real-world effectiveness. It could easily transform 
into racial profiling. It fails to reduce the underlying causes of 
anti-U.S. terrorism. Terrorists who have practiced looking innocent 
could circumvent it easily. What, then, is the program good for?

"Since the behavior detection program is unlikely to catch many 
professional terrorists, perhaps its real goal is to improve the morale 
of the unloved screeners by giving the public some incentive to be nice 
to them," writes Eland. "So next time you travel by air, don't forget 
your fake smile and ChapStick."

Will it last? Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs suggests 
that the public probably will tolerate greater intrusions by TSA airport 
screeners. "Strange as it might seem, most people get used to being 
treated as criminals or inmates in a concentration camp," Higgs wrote 
last month. "Americans are no exception. Keep beating them down, and 
eventually you will produce a thoroughly cowed and compliant herd, a 
mass of pliant raw material in the hands of their political masters, 
perfectly willing to sacrifice their dignity rather than irritate an 
airport-security thug and be made to miss a flight. And heaven forbid 
that they write their congressional representative to complain. Such 
impudence might get them placed on some black list at the TSA or even at 
the FBI. Best to keep quiet, stay in line, act as they are ordered to act."

See "Chatting Up the TSA," by Ivan Eland (12/30/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1644
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
"Adulando a la Administración de la Seguridad del Transporte"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1644

Also see "Traveling Sheep," by Robert Higgs (12/14/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1636
"Oveja Viajera"
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1636

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by 
Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan 
Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=19

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jan 03, 2006 in category economics


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