Story Highlights:

  • TSA to implement new behavior-detection security screening procedures
  • New procedures will begin on Tuesday at Boston’s Logan International Airport
  • TSA chief John Pistole recently said that the U.S. is considering Israeli-styled behavior detection
TSA Begins Using Israeli Behavior Detection Procedures at U.S. Airports

TSA Administrator John Pistole

On Tuesday, passengers at Boston’s Logan International Airport will be subjected to behavior-detection procedures, during which officials will ask a number of questions intended to increase airport and flight security.

According to The Boston Globe, the questions asked will be along the lines of, ”Where are you traveling today?” or “How long have you been in town? The behavioral screening is intended to detect suspicious behavior by taking a more hands-on, interview approach. According to George Naccara, TSA federal security director at Logan:

“We’re not looking for the answers necessarily; we’re instead gauging the reaction, the response to the question.”

As part of the new trial program, every passenger passing through Logan’s Terminal A will be subjected to about 20 seconds worth of questioning. Those who are deemed a potential threat will be pulled aside for additional screening. Logan is an interesting choice for the pilot program, considering that two of the airplanes utilized in the September 11, 2001 attacks departed from its gates.

This new program is likely a response to growing controversy surrounding TSA screenings. Advanced image technology (AIT), which has been labeled invasive and unneeded, has dominated recent conversations about the federal agency. Following public anger, officials have sought more applicable ways to balance security and individual rights. In July, The Blaze reported about plans to replace controversial scanners that expose details of a person’s body with units that only show a generic bodily outline.

The Logan announcement follows reports that the TSA has been considering adopting Israeli-style behavior techniques to ensure flight safety. While TSA chief John Pistole was very vague in a public announcement highlighting these new techniques, he explained that the mechanisms are based on models that other countries are using.

During an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum last week, the TSA head said that these procedures would mirror those followed at Israeli airports. Passengers would essentially be engaged in conversations with security officials that would enable agents to ask pertinent questions, while looking out for anything suspicious. Below, watch Pistole discuss these issues:

Times NewsFeed has more:

Those flying into Israel are subject to questions about where they are visiting from, why they are visiting, what their plans are during the visit, as well as personal questions about their family, occupation and ethnicity. Border patrol officers also use similar methods with drivers crossing the U.S.-Canada border.

Pistole was, again, vague in addressing which countries the U.S. model would be based on, though he did mention that many of the elements under Israel’s model are “very effective.” Critics, though, claim that the Israeli model is too time consuming, as some travelers have been stopped for up to two hours. Others fear that these procedures would lead to increased racial profiling. Some simply question the value of the new procedures. The Globe writes:

“The question is obviously, what is the quality of the verbal interaction that is going to be implemented?” asked Rafi Ron, a former Logan consultant and CEO of New-Age Security Solutions. “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.”

Today, critics and proponents, alike, will be able to see similar procedures in action at Logan. The TSA already has behavior detection officers at 161 airports across the nation (some have already been accused of profiling). These new plans would likely build upon the current program; the pilot at Logan is likely a piece of this puzzle.

Considering past issues that have been raised about pat downs and screening machines (earlier this month there was another report about a cancer patient being mishandled), any and all procedures will likely be devised and handled carefully.