TSA Watch: Expansion of the "chat down"


The TSA yesterday expanded its behavior detection program to Detroit, according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek.

The agency implemented a pilot program over the summer in Terminal A of Boston's Logan International Airport. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport now joins the pilot.

The program employs TSA officers to ask passengers simple questions about where they're traveling, what they'll be doing there, etc., and watch their responses for signs of nefarious intent. Hence the term "chat down", as opposed to "pat down".

The program, which has been compared to the extensive questioning that airline passengers undergo in Israeli airports, is an attempt by the TSA to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to security and towards a risk-based approach.


TSA revealed last week that 91% of their workforce has only a GED or High School education. This is hardly a highly trained organization capable of carrying out a sophisticated investigative program. This will only serve as another mechanism for them to harass and delay innocent passengers without demonstrating any tangible benefit.

TSA is nothing more than a jobs program for unemployable misfits trying to create an illusion of airline security .Last week one of these '"professionals" was arrested in Maryland for possession of child pornography. Another was arrested this week for drug smuggling at LAX. This is the fourth screener charged with smuggling drugs through security the last six months.

These drugs could just as well have been weapons or explosives carried aboard by a terrorist or intentionally planted in passenger baggage. The nine TSA screeners arrested for child sex crimes this year could have easily been coerced by terrorists into cooperating in order to conceal their crimes.

There have been 56 TSA screeners arrested so far this year, a rate of one very six days. Of these, nine are charged with sex crimes involving children and four with helping to smuggle drugs through security. Of course, these screeners didn't know for sure whether the contraband was drugs or explosives.

So while TSA workers may take bribes that ultimately allow a bomb on a plane, you can be sure that there won't be any four ounce containers getting past them. It is long past time to heavily reform or abolish this agency and replace it with something that works.

TSA Crimes & Abuses