Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 29, 2005

Behavior detection and civil liberties in aviation security

Filed under: Aviation Security — by Christian Beckner on December 29, 2005

The Boston Globe has a story today on the use of behavior detection in aviation security screening, noting how the TSA initiative follows the Israeli model of behavior detection and that an initial pilot project at Logan Airport has expanded to other airports in the Northeast. The article notes:

The TSA is facing opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts last year claiming behavior detection can be easily abused because TSA officers have to guess who is suspicious, leading to racial profiling.

I get frustrated when I read things like this. This kind of “cry wolf” absolutism on civil liberties fails to examine the potential security benefits of a given initiative and rationally weigh it against the impact on civil liberties. And I always hear the ACLU criticizing homeland security activities, but I never hear them offering alternative proposals on how they would conduct security. Do they want watch list matching? (No.) Do they want risk-based profiling? (No.) Or registered traveler programs? (No.) Or something else? Do they really think that screening should be entirely random, and have a process where an 88-year old grandmother has the same chance of getting pulled aside as a young foreign citizen from a country with known terrorist connections?

I’d like to know.

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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » How to talk to TSA screeners

December 30, 2005 @ 7:50 pm

[…] Behavior detection and civil liberties in aviation security […]


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » United 93 movie trailer comes under criticism

April 11, 2006 @ 12:06 am

[…] The media has been reporting this week on people’s opposition or queasiness regarding the trailer for the upcoming movie United 93, which tells the story of the hijacked flight on 9/11 that passengers fought to retake , and which crashed in Shanksville, PA. I’ve watched the trailer, and I don’t see what the fuss is about, especially in a society that tolerates so much mindless and cartoonish violence. From everything I’ve read, this movie has taken great pains to portray that day’s events accurately – and we should never wince or flinch from reality, however painful it may be. In fact, I think this movie is exactly what many Americans need to see, to awaken from our complacency on a number of homeland security issues, whether it be the chemical industry hemming and hawing on sensible compromise legislation that gives them most of what they want, or the ACLU opposing sensible aviation security activities. […]

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