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Fewer Than 1% Arrested From TSA's "Behavior Detection"

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the department-of-funny-walks dept.

Government 412

An anonymous reader writes "Fewer than 1% of airline passengers singled out at airports using the much vaunted 'suspicious behavior detection' techniques are arrested, Transportation Security Administration figures show. The TSA program, launched in early 2006, looks for terrorists using a controversial surveillance method based on behavior detection and has led to more than 160,000 people in airports receiving scrutiny, such as a pat-down search or a brief interview. It has resulted in only 1,266 arrests, often on charges of carrying drugs or fake IDs, the TSA said. The TSA has not publicly said whether it has caught a terrorist through the program." In related news, the odds of sanity coming to the TSA plummeted today when Schneier said he's not interested in the top job there.

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412 comments

In other news: (5, Funny)

cosmocain (1060326) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816019)

Not all flying things are ducks.

Re:In other news: (2, Funny)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816127)

Flying toasters... the next step in mobil improvised explosive device technology.

Re:In other news: (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816657)

Must... resist... flying... chair... joke...

Bah!

With a 1% success rate that's a higher success rate than Microsoft's effort which involved throwing chairs at popups.

*Cries and begs for forgiveness*

Re:In other news: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816335)

C M Ducks?

seems to me (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816455)

The summary used a lot of words to say it doesn't work. Not that they'll stop using it unless they are made to. Honestly, all this 'using a Buick to swat a fly nonsense has to end sometime.

The thing is, if you know your entering a country that starts off on the assumption your probably a terrorist, that doesn't make people relax.

Personally I find airports immensely stressful, seriously so, to the point that I take the train if at all possible. Flying is bearable, but all that waiting around in the airport buying overpriced coffee and getting 'approved as terror free' is a deeply unpleasant experience.

Only 1.2k Arrests! (-1, Flamebait)

thomsomc (1247152) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816027)

ONLY 1.2k were actually arrested? Is anyone else amazed at the amount of people 1.2k is? Okay, you're right, it didn't find Osama Bin Laden. But it did help find OVER 1200 people trying to smuggle drugs or fake IDs. That sounds like a decent payoff to me.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816085)

You're right! We should extend this outside of airports, so that any jumped up minimum wage gomer with a tin badge can stop anyone they like, declare Facecrime, and use that as probable cause for an invasive search up to and including internal! I'm sure that the 99% of innocents who get Probed would also agree that the payoff is worth it, whatever the cost!

Let's start with you, shall we?

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816189)

I'm betting if the police just randomly grabed people off the street and subjected them to everything up to cavity searches more than 1% would be found to be carrying drugs,knives longer than the legal length, fake ID's or be found to be violating some other pisant little law.

Hell if a police officers followed any random person for a single day as they went about their blameless buisness there's close to a 100% chancethat person could be caught commiting enough "crimes" to put them away for life.

It boils down to the fact that if a law enforcement official doesn't like your face he can find some ancient law you've been violating and put you away.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816485)

Hell if a police officers followed any random person for a single day as they went about their blameless buisness there's close to a 100% chance that person could be caught commiting enough "crimes" to put them away for life

Away for life? Sheesh! Where do you live and remind me to never go there.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (5, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816697)

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8167533318153586646&hl=en [google.com]

Why nobody in america should ever talk to the police. ever.No matter how innocent.
You can be a criminal for possesion of a lobster, opeing a packet of cigarettes without fully destroying the tax seal and for any number of lesser known laws.

Nobody in america is truely innocent. Everyone has broken the law at some point and almost everyone breaks the law many times a day without ever knowing.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816199)

I still don't understand why drugs are illegal? Regulated yes, like alcohol, but why illegal? If I want to kill myself with cocaine that's MY business and none of yours. My body; my choice. (Same argument used to justify abortion.)

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816247)

Yes and when you kill someone while in a violent rage cause you're on cocaine who is at fault then?

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (3, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816351)

If you kill someone in a drunken rage or kill someone drunk driving is that the barmans fault or your own since you chose to drink?
It's your fault no matter what you're on.

The drugs are not killing your victim, you are and it's your fault if you chose to take the drugs.

So no, this is an entirely invalid point.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (2, Funny)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816295)

The government is not your daddy. Its purpose is not to raid middle-class neighbors' wallets and give it to the lazy.

Is this what your father used to do?

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816943)

No he used to give the money directly to me (seeing as how I was lazy as a kid). This did not make the neighbors happy, but you know this is what happens when you move into a mafia-controlled neighborhood. (shrug)

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816297)

I still don't understand why drugs are illegal? Regulated yes, like alcohol, but why illegal? If I want to kill myself with cocaine that's MY business and none of yours. My body; my choice. (Same argument used to justify abortion.)

Because you're too stupid to make your own decisions. Your comment re abortion confirms it.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816531)

see at the turn of the century, 19th turning into the 20th that is, all this stuff was legal. then some uptight women got really upset that their husbands came home drunk/doped up every night so we got these laws pushed though congress and even an amendment to the constitution! since then the war on our personal freedoms (well maybe even a bit before) has been widening in scope. remember to thank your (great)grand mother!

oversimplified but close enough for government work

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816837)

In abortion is not your body.
Ask the unborn child if he/she wants to be born, and THEN decide.
His/Her body, his/her choice.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (-1, Flamebait)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816907)

In the case of a drug addict morality and fear of punishment don't play any role if he wants a dose.
With the exception of ultra-rich celebrities every drug addict will rob people and would not hesitate to kill if a living person stands between him and his drug. It boils down to physiology.
Besides, would you sound the same way if you'll find out that your child is using drugs?

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

Smooth and Shiny (1097089) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816223)

Not sure why people have problems being searched at airports. I mean... you have nothing to hide, right? So just go through the process, stop your whining and moaning and move on.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (4, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816901)

As a matter of fact, I do have something to hide. Most people would not be happy about a complete stranger going through their underwear drawer at home, why should I feel comfortable with a complete stranger going through my underwear at an airport where everyone can see? It's embarrassing and humiliating to pat someone down in public and search through their belongings when they have done nothing wrong.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816243)

well said - you're exactly right, this is nothing more than another excuse to let the "control freaks" run wild in they're own little pathetic control domain.

It does nothing for the security of the people and everything for destruction of common sense!

Makes me sick as hell - we see this everyday!!

I really kinda hope I'll wake up one day and they'll be some kind of test to never let these kinda of people be in a position of power - I think that is the ultimate solution to the so called "terrorist problem", shame the current system which had no say in, still lets them get into power :P

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816815)

I'm sure that the 99% of innocents who get Probed would also agree that the payoff is worth it, whatever the cost!

It isn't 1% of all airport travelers being arrested, it's a 1% arrest rate for those airport travelers detained for suspicious behavior (unless I read the summary incorrectly). Thus your 99% probing rate is erroneous because they aren't stopping every traveler who passes through security--only those who demonstrate "suspicious behavior". Yes, it is a slippery slope, no disagreement here. However, I agree with the parent on this...those 99% that were detained for suspicious behavior but not arrested are probably such a small sample of the overall number of passengers that it has practically no affect on the rest of us and the small amount of petty crime discovered through this process is probably worth the hassle. I don't think this is unreasonable tradeoff.

Let's start with you, shall we?

I'm not gonna fall for your bait either and respond with the "I have nothing to hide" comment because that'll just spin off into the usual slashdot pseudo-intellectual battle-of-my-logical-fallacy-is-better-than-your-strawman! love fest.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (3, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816093)

150k+ more people were wrongly harassed for those 1.2k arrests. Doesn't sound so good when you look at all the numebers involved.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816107)

What's getting to me is that the OP/TFA/Overlord thinks that 1% is too low and that perhaps a greater percentage of airline passengers need to be arrested. This only shows that not everyone at an airport is a terrorist and that we can be more trusting of others we are traveling with.

There, it got me.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (5, Insightful)

Doogie Howser (65040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816145)

Arrested != convicted. Oooh - someone smuggling drugs. Big national security risk there.

If this were a medical test, it would have been tossed out well before implementation based on both the false positive rate and the admission of questionable sensitivity.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (4, Insightful)

rand.srand() (243903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816149)

You don't know how well a detector works unless you know how many cases it failed to detect a true positive (what's called a false negative in the biz). Let's say if you searched everyone in line you'd arrest 0.2% of them for some suspected crime. In that case, the 1200 in 600k means your detector is worthless. It works no better than a random sample.

Most of us want to catch people doing illegal things. Fewer and fewer of us want to prevent a police state that asks people for their papers at every turn, and performs strip searches because they smiled at the camera a little funny.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816215)

"Most of us want to catch people doing illegal things."

I can almost garantee that you commit many jailable offences each and every day without even knowing. There are so many catch-all rules, stupid laws and laws which forbid things they're not intended to forbid.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816687)

a police state that asks people for their papers at every turn, and performs strip searches because they smiled at the camera

And rakes in billions to the corrupt business of government where the power elite make their fortunes.

Don't think for a second it isn't about the money.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (3, Insightful)

gutnor (872759) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816177)

1.2K arrest for 160K control.

How many would have been arrested if 160K person had been randomly controlled instead of using that technology ?

Also how many of those person with fake id would have been catched later-on at passport control ?

Police Officer are already very good at behavior detection. Can this system be replaced by simply adding more cops in critical area ?

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816703)

Yeah, that was basically my thought exactly.

At any time, there is likely to be 1% of the population walking around with drugs or fake ID on them. To me that seems like the program did nothing, which is not surprising since the TSA really does nothing beneficial.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (5, Insightful)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816195)

160.000 people were frisked and only 1.266 were found posses something they shouldn't*. That's a hit ratio of fewer than 1%.

According to Wikipedia, by the beginning of 2008, more than 1 in 100 Americans were incarcerated, so that's more than 1% "hit ratio" if you simply searched every American for illegal drugs, fake IDs or similar. Still a decent tradeoff?

*I don't see how a person carrying pot can bring down a plane, but apprently it's already possible with nail scissors, so who knows.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (5, Funny)

Comboman (895500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816727)

I don't see how a person carrying pot can bring down a plane

By sharing it with the pilot.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816729)

*I don't see how a person carrying pot can bring down a plane, but apprently it's already possible with nail scissors, so who knows.

Apparently it can also be done with 31oz of water or toothpaste. They really need to build sturdier airplanes.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816367)

In a similar vein, one of Antioch's Finest, using the latest in citizen profiling technology, (Dirty Hippie on a bicycle) was able to interdict me whilst I was smuggling a doobie down towards the river. Kinda makes you proud to be an American, eh?

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (3, Interesting)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816497)

So you think performing questionable searches of 160 000 people at the airport is perfectly fine? And arresting people for infractions not related to the search based on the results? I hope not many people share your views. That kind of reasoning ends up with some very depressing scenarios very fast.

If you'd pulled over 160 000 cars and searched them on the highway on "suspicions of terrorism" you'd probably get 1200 arrests for various minor infractions as well. Or if you searched 160 000 houses, or random people on the street....

With a accuracy of less than 1% for any crime it obviously doesn't work. It can't be that much better than a random search.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (2, Insightful)

Mascot (120795) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816573)

Picking out 160.000 people at random, or based on a border guard's hunch would likely have gotten as many hits.

Sounds like a waste of money to me.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (3, Insightful)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816635)

Picking out 160.000 people at random, or based on a border guard's hunch would likely have gotten as many hits.

Sounds like a waste of money to me.

Sounds like a serious threat to civil liberties to me. The money involved is of little interest.

Re:Only 1.2k Arrests! (2, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816765)

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. So we have 1200 people committing victimless crimes, and in order to catch them, I have to get "randomly selected" at LAX for a pat down and full luggage search. They even bitch when I forgot to take a freaking comb out of my back pocket. Bullshit. So someone has a fake ID or a bit of heroine, who gives a flying fuck?

Terrorists act suspiciously? (5, Interesting)

bjackson1 (953136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816047)

If you were convinced that you were morally right and upholding 'God's Law' would you really act suspiciously? Those who act suspicious know what they are doing is wrong.

Terrorism is a different animal all together from faking IDs and drug carrying.

Re:Terrorists act suspiciously? (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816157)

'Those who act suspicious know what they are doing is wrong.'

No, they know what they are doing is against the law.

Re:Terrorists act suspiciously? (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816225)

People don't care about man-made law when they are following God's law. They consider God's law superior and therefore feel no guilt.

Kinda similar to how I'd feel pointing a gun at Osama Bin Laden & pulling the trigger. I'd feel absolutely no guilt or hesitation. Therefore there's nothing for the "psychosomatic" cameras to detect.

Re:Terrorists act suspiciously? (1)

black_lbi (1107229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816741)

First of all, it disturbs me that you've already trialed and sentenced (albeit virtually) a man, without having all the facts together ... Can you prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he's guilty?
Second: this isn't at all about the law or feeling guilt. A terrorist could be nervous and act suspicious because if he gets caught, he couldn't carry on with his initial plan ... so that would be an epic fail for him. Most people don't like those ...

Re:Terrorists act suspiciously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816811)

I'm glad I don't know you.

Re:Terrorists act suspiciously? (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816603)

Those who act suspicious know what they are doing is wrong.

Not necessarily. Most people look worried while walking through a security check, because they don't want to be the person who gets pulled out of the line, one of the tests used is apparently to look for people who look to confident.

defining (1)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816075)

TSA considers praying towards mecca 'suspicious behaviour'

In that case, (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816227)

they would be correct. It is right not to trust someone who would sanction the expulsion of a rape victim from her community, or gouging out a woman's clitoris in the name of purity, or intentionally target civilians because they disagree with their government. Muslims have given the rest of the world plenty of reason to be suspicious through their childish responses to every perceived slight.

Re:In that case, (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816321)

lets all judge an entire religion or group based on it's worst examples.

So:
Looking at the Christians:
All catholics are pedophiles who's homes should be searched for child porn.
All catholics believe that young women who get pregnant outside of wedlock should be confined to church run institutions, beaten and abused.
All Christians like to burn witches.

Looking at Atheists:
They're all massively arrogant jackasses like Dawkins.

Looking at Americans:
They all talk with a thick southern accent, spit all the time and distill whiskey out in the swamp.

Muslims:
What you said.

Re:In that case, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816489)

Most of the witch burning were carried out by civil courts not religious ones. In spain, paradoxically, inquisition acted to prevent witch burning (well most of the time).

Re:In that case, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816689)

Have you actually READ the Koran? In the case of Muslims, it's the NON-violent ones that are in the extremist minority...

Re:In that case, (1, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816779)

Have you actually READ the bible? there's sections in there about how smashing babies heads in with rocks is doing gods work and that slavery is perfectly ok.

Re:In that case, (3, Funny)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816831)

For the actual quote:
"Blessed is the one who grabs your little children and smashes them against a rock."
Psalm 137:9

Potential good coming from this... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816077)

If you read TFA you'll see how onerous the vetting process has become for *any* potential appointee (or any Federal employee for that matter). It's no wonder Schneier isn't interested. However, I see this as a positive thing. Since the vetting process is getting even more microscopic in examining applicants there soon won't be ANYBODY in the country who will be able to pass muster. The end result will be a natural shrinking of the Federal government due to a lack of "qualified" (read "sterile") applicants. Us Libertarians may win by default!

Re:Potential good coming from this... (1)

Heian-794 (834234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816167)

Cornwallis, something tells me that the government will simply hire incompetents instead. It's not like they're going to let the budget go unspent and let positions go unfilled. Rule of thumb: government never gets smaller.

Re:Potential good coming from this... (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816259)

That's how I landed my job two years ago. The FAA had about 11 months worth of money "leftover" so they hired three engineers to sit around and do (almost) nothing. A wiser course would have been to send the money back to Congress so it could be refunded back to the taxpayers (either directly or as SSI/medicare payouts), but that's not how government operates. So instead they hired three engineers for a job that didn't really exist.

I don't know if that's good or bad... (4, Insightful)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816083)

How does that figure compare to random searches? Without that figure for comparison it's completely pointless saying "OMGZ TSA FAIL" because nobody ever claimed that everyone stopped would be arrested. If it gets higher arrests than random searches what's the problem?

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816117)

The problem is that it is still security theatre, and there were still 150k+ people wrongly harassed because of this policy.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (2, Interesting)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816323)

"Harassed"? Harassed how exactly? They were searched. Everyone gets searched every time they get on a plane. My hand luggage goes through a scanner, I walk through a metal detector, have I been harassed? Several times I've been taken aside and patted down too, was that harassment?

I'm wondering where valid searches stop and this "harassment" you speak of starts. Is it being taken into a room? A finger down my throat? A finger up my arse? I might agree with you when we get to those last couple, but are those things even happening in these searches we're talking about? I see nothing to suggest that, so I'd like to know just what you think is going on that is harassment and what reason you have for believing it.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816863)

So you wouldn't mind if police pulled up to you every now and then on the street to pat you down, pass a metal detector over you, let the sniffer dog check you.
And if every few months they knocked on your door and searched your home in a similar manner?
If 1% of such searches turn something up it's fine right?

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (0)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816945)

No, that would violate the fourth amendment against unreasonable search. However, searching people getting on a vehicle that can fly through the sky to any point in the country and carries a ton of volatile explosives doesn't seem all that unreasonable. In this case I don't think the slope is very slippery.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (4, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816971)

"Harassed"? Harassed how exactly? They were searched. Everyone gets searched every time they get on a plane. My hand luggage goes through a scanner, I walk through a metal detector, have I been harassed? Several times I've been taken aside and patted down too, was that harassment?

Inconvenienced, insulted, accused, annoyed. Take your pick. I do find being searched demeaning. It's all harassment. Therefore, I would like as little of it as possible. As a feeling animal, I seek pleasure and avoid pain. Clearly, not everyone is equally annoyed by these things. Perhaps some are just Authoritarian Personality Types. Perhaps some feel the tradeoff is "worth it".

I don't agree that the tradeoff is worth it, so I feel harassed every time I fly. I'm not the only one. So before anyone asks, yes, I'd rather see hundreds of planes in flames and the establishment of a Caliphate and I'm gonna marry a carrot.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

Boogaroo (604901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816129)

If it gets higher arrests than random searches what's the problem?

Because, even if it is higher, it's still 99% wrong.
Would you consider a 99% false positive rate on traffic stops to be "acceptable?"

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816179)

If it gets higher arrests than random searches what's the problem?

Because this program was supposed to find terrorists, not people with fake IDs or people trying to sneak a couple of ounces through security.

If some villagers are mauled by a tiger, and I promise to catch the tigers, and I implement a system of nets and snares around the village, and I don't catch any tigers, then I have failed to keep my promise, regardless of how many snakes and wild boars I do catch.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1, Troll)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816219)

If some villagers are mauled by a tiger, and I promise to catch the tigers, and I implement a system of nets and snares around the village, and I don't catch any tigers, then I have failed to keep my promise, regardless of how many snakes and wild boars I do catch.

If there haven't been any tiger attacks in the whole time the net has been up then there's no basis to say that it has been a success or a failure. You might even claim that the absence of attacks is a result of the nets being put up and therefore they have been a success.

Now, I ask you: How many terrorist attacks have there been on planes since this system was put in place?

Note that I'm not saying it actually has been a success, I'm saying I see no example of it having failed and I don't see how some random arrest figure with no context whatsoever proves anything one way or they other.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816315)

If there haven't been any tiger attacks in the whole time the net has been up then there's no basis to say that it has been a success or a failure.

Well, that's a relief. I thought you were going to point to the absence of attacks as some sort of proof that this system is working, despite the complete lack of any definitive evidence, like arrests.

You might even claim that the absence of attacks is a result of the nets being put up and therefore they have been a success.

Now, I ask you: How many terrorist attacks have there been on planes since this system was put in place?

Oh my...looks like I spoke too soon.

On a related note, if you're worried about tiger attacks, you can borrow my tiger repelling rock. It, like the snares, doesn't actually catch tigers, but it's guaranteed to keep them away. I myself haven't so much as seen a tiger since I began carrying it.

Note that I'm not saying it actually has been a success,

No, but you're certainly insinuating it rather loudly...

I'm saying I see no example of it having failed

As I made clear above, the complete lack of any terrorism related arrests clearly spell out the failure of this program. Either the terrorists are there, and are not being caught, or they aren't there at all, in which case the program is pointless...assuming, of course, that "capture of terrorists" was its actual goal...

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (0, Troll)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816379)

Oh my...looks like I spoke too soon.

And you spoke too soon again because my next line clarified that that wasn't what I was saying. That was very trollish of you to respond to this line having obviously read the following one and knowing precisely that this wasn't what I was saying.

No, but you're certainly insinuating it rather loudly...

No I'm not. I'm not insinuating anything. I'm stating things quite clearly: The numbers given in this article prove nothing whasoever without context.

As I made clear above, the complete lack of any terrorism related arrests clearly spell out the failure of this program. Either the terrorists are there, and are not being caught, or they aren't there at all, in which case the program is pointless...assuming, of course, that "capture of terrorists" was its actual goal...

As I made clear above, the lack of arrests for terrorism do not prove anything about the success or failure of the program.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (2, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816449)

Really, You're really going to try to claim you weren't trying to insinuate anything with this line?

Now, I ask you: How many terrorist attacks have there been on planes since this system was put in place?

And when I call you out on your dishonesty, I'm the "troll". Brilliant.

As I made clear above, the lack of arrests for terrorism do not prove anything about the success or failure of the program.

They prove that the program (as far as its stated goals go) is either a failure or pointless. Take your pick.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (0, Troll)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816899)

Really, You're really going to try to claim you weren't trying to insinuate anything with this line?

I'm not claiming anything. I'm stating it. If I didn't write it then it isn't what I'm saying. If you inferred something from my words then that is entirely your own doing, not mine. I don't know how else I can phrase that to make it clearer. There's no dishonesty here, only your lack of comprehension of the subject and inability to read an entire post correctly.

They prove that the program (as far as its stated goals go) is either a failure or pointless. Take your pick.

No it doesn't prove either of those things. If something doesn't happen over an arbitrary amount of time that doesn't mean it cannot happen at any point in the future. Do you really not get that?

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816701)

What TripMaster Monkey and pla were trying to point out was that "How many terrorist attacks have there been on planes since this system was put in place?" is the wrong question to ask. There are a variety of factors involved in future terrorist attacks on planes occurring. Perhaps the war in Iraq really forced them to keep fighting "over there", perhaps other security measures on planes were effective, perhaps terrorists realize that the next plane hijacking won't be as easy since passengers are more likely to revolt, or perhaps Al Qaeda simply decided that the next attack should be a train derailment and is gearing up for that. There is no way to tell which of these, if any, was the cause of the lack of terrorist attacks and therefore it is useless to even pose the question as any sort of metric.

With that out of the way as even a question to ask, we're left with the question of how to determine how effective the program was. Of the 160,000 people they searched, only 1,266 were arrested (and many of those for non-terrorist related activities). The best way to determine whether this program was effective would be to search another 160,000 people at random. If you wind up with 1,266 arrests or more, then the program wasn't a success. If the program resulted in more arrests, then the TSA might be able to claim success.

Of course, there would be a big asterisk next to their success claim as the purpose of the program was to catch terrorists, not Joe Fratboy flying with a joint. The best comparison would be to weed out all non-terrorist related arrests from the 1,266 and then compare that number with the number of terrorist related arrests from a search of 160,000 random people. If the program results in more terrorist related arrests than random searches, then the TSA can truly call it a success. Unfortunately, I don't think they have any plans to do this. Instead, they'll just tout the arrest numbers as a sign that the TSA is committed to doing something, anything, to make people think they are safer.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816319)

Now, I ask you: How many terrorist attacks have there been on planes since this system was put in place?

True, but that little or nothing to do with the TSA. You see, I have this "anti-terrorist" rock I found a few years ago, and as long as I give it a lucky pat before bed every night, it keeps the entire US safe.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816425)

I suggest you read the rest of my post before responding next time. I made it abundantly clear that the lack of terrorist wasn't proof of success, merely that it meant the absence of terrorist arrests was not proof of failure.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816631)

Because this program was supposed to find terrorists, not people with fake IDs or people trying to sneak a couple of ounces through security.

I don't think it was ever supposed to catch terrorists; that was just a pretext to set up a dragnet without that pesky Bill of Rights getting in the way.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

Big Nothing (229456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816299)

Actually, IMHO it's not as clear-cut as you claim. The summary (no, I didn't RTFA) says 1300 arrests from 160.000 "incidents", but not how many of those arrests were terrorist-related. Assuming that say 10 of those arrests were terrorists (a high number, I know) - THAT would be the number to compare to random screenings. After all, DHS doesn't exist to arrest college kids carrying a bong, is it? The effectiveness should be measured by how much safer it has actually made us, i.e. how many terrorists it has stopped. And to what cost (monetary and other).

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816507)

After all, DHS doesn't exist to arrest college kids carrying a bong, is it?

You're not too far off, dude. DHS exists to keep the American public in a constant state of fear so we'll comply with whatever asinine, insane laws our masters want to push on us. If that requires arresting college kids carrying a bong, so be it. /half-hearted response //coffee hasn't kicked in yet... please excuse me.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816393)

Do you think someone could get the TSA perform random searches based on a d20 die roll? On a 1, you get searched, on a 20, you get smiled at and let through. In-between rolls just get you through, with no smile unless you also sport a nice pair of boobs.
This idea was, of course, invented by Shampoo.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816397)

I suspect a purely random search of people would actually result in a higher arrest rate - they'd likely find more people with drugs or whatever if they just rolled the dice and every time they rolled a 20 they searched a person. Of course, I have nothing to support that opinion so feel free to ignore it, but 1%? Come on. That's pathetically low.

Re:I don't know if that's good or bad... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816711)

"If it gets higher arrests than random searches what's the problem?"

Exactly. So, a deeper question is: why didn't they release statistics on "random" versus these "behavior targeted" searches? Is that because they haven't done such a study (stupid) or because they are afraid of the results and don't want to (irresponsible)?

A rose by any other name still has thorns (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816087)

The TSA has not publicly said whether it has caught a terrorist through the program

Of course not - That would presume the TSA (and DHS in general) actually has the goal of stopping terrorists.

Don't make the mistake of taking their name and stated goals literally. The DHS exists solely for the purpose of keeping the US populace in fear, making us easier to control and more tolerant of increasingly draconian laws relating to "security". For proof, you need look no further than how well FEMA (once an actually useful agency) has handled various disasters since they got sucked into the DHS... Or for that matter, the TSA's record at catching weapons carried by various reporters.

The second amendment grows increasingly relevant to our society every day... And not for protection from dark-skinned foreigners, but the real "terrorists" running our country and our world.

Re:A rose by any other name still has thorns (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816207)

Last I heard, they had -not- ever caught a terrorist with these methods or even random searches. It is only an inconvenience to the customer.

This is partly because there just aren't that many terrorists out there, but mainly because the tactics are useless against people that know the tactics... And you know the tactics if you've ever flown. Or talked to someone who has.

Instead of harassing the customers, they could pay a couple armed guards to sit on every flight and things would go smoother all around. And actually have a chance at stopping the terrorists that get by.

And you know, if they did it that way, I'd actually consider flying again.

Re:A rose by any other name still has thorns (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816467)

The TSA has not publicly said whether it has caught a terrorist through the program

That actually speaks volumes. You can bet your last penny that if they had caught anyone they could paint as a "terrorist", it'd be like their poster child and would be all over the media, "see, THIS is why you need us! This is why we NEED to make flying total hell and have you take off your shoes and strip down at the airport every time!"

Since we haven't seen any examples, it's very safe to assume there are none.

I'm sure it'll happen eventually. Either they''ll genuinely identify a terrorist, or will get lucky. Then the media will have a field day and we'll really be stuck with it. Here's to hoping they don't get lucky in time before enough public inertia gathers to dump them on the curb.

Re:A rose by any other name still has thorns (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816565)

"public inertia gathers to dump them on the curb."

When has public displeasure ever resulted in a government program getting dumped?

Sure, we got out of Vietnam, and you may argue that public opposition had a lot to do with it, but the exact same programs are now active in Iraq.

Re:A rose by any other name still has thorns (1)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816517)

I completely disagree. The purpose of FEMA, DHS, security screenings, etc is NOT to keep people in fear, but to keep them feeling safe and secure in the knowledge (?!) that their government is working hard (?!) to protect them from the bad guys (!?).

It reminds me of an old episode of Yes, Prime Minister regarding Trident submarines for the UK. The purpose of the subs isn't to protect the UK from the Soviets--the Soviets already know that the Britain can't defend herself. It's to make the British people BELIEVE that they're protected.

But in your defense, I think we both agree that the DHS' primary goal is not to stop terrorists....

Better than it was (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816173)

It may not be very effective, but it's way more politically correct than their old arrest strategy, "if he's brown, take him down"

Same as other security (2, Insightful)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816213)

How many people that get pulled out of the metal detector line actually get arrested? Its the same basic idea as this system, see a sensor reading that potentially represents something harmful, pull them out of line, check to see what's going on, keep going.

Re:Same as other security (1)

black_lbi (1107229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816855)

I'm not sure your analogy makes any sense.
For starters, it doesn't have a car in it ...
Also, i think it's important to note that without a metal detector it would be kinda easy to bring a gun on board of an airplane, don't you think?
I know there are other ways to search for guns, but what's wrong with keeping it simple?
I don't see how this behavior detection program lowers the risk in the same way the "no guns in the airplane" policy does ...

Societal problem (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816339)

How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

But what's the background rate? (2, Insightful)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816387)

This is just another case of statistics being used to try to manipulate the story. Saying that this detection method only managed about a 1% arrest rate is meaningless unless we also know what the arrest rate was with previous / other methods. If other methods were only achieving 0.1% then this is fantastic improvement.

On a more personal note though I think any technique that can only manage a 1% success rate probably needs scrapping. There are obviously far to many false positives for the system to be trusted and of course you can't count the number of false negatives. The fact that it was specifically brought into catch terrorists and it would seem it hasn't succeeded speaks even worse of it (I imagine if they had caught a terrorist they would be shouting it from the roof tops).

Re:But what's the background rate? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816679)

How is arrest rate a valid statistic to consult regarding effectiveness of ANY security system?

"We are now arresting 97% of all passengers detected by this system, usually on unrelated petty charges." == success??

There's Something Missing From This Discussion (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816427)

Oh - I know what's different: no "Bush Worse Than Hitler" diatribes.

Don't you feel like idiots now that your man has won a fair election?

No? You should.

Because you are idiots.

99% of people flag by detector, innocent, harassed (1)

headhot (137860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816465)

99% of people flag by detector, innocent, harassed.

That's what the title should read.

Re:99% of people flag by detector, innocent, haras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25816605)

I'd bet if you picked 100 people up you would get more than 2 arrests.

With other methods id bet I'd be willing to bet that this is pritty bad by average stats.

Yeah well (2, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816585)

McCarthyism resulted in less than 1% of the citizens of Hollywood being blacklisted from the movie industry (on hearsay and specious evidence). So that was OK, then?

Numbers don't matter. Justice matters. What ever happened to "probable cause?"

statistical anomaly (3, Informative)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25816675)

The fact that less than 1% of the people caught were doing something illegal would make sense if we can assume that the vast majority of the people flying are not criminals.

Let say that the detector was accurate 90% of the time, and 5% of the people who passed through the airport were doing something illegal. If one million people came through that airport, we could assume that:

      1,000,000 people
            50,000 criminals
                    - 45,000 detected
                    - 5,000 not detected

          950,000 innocent people
                    -855,000 not flagged
                    - 95,000 falsely accused

          140,000 people accused
                    - 67.8% are innocent
                    - 32.1% are guilty

Granted this is just a hypothetical situation, not based on actual statistics, but the example shows how that even a reasonably accurate system can look unreliable when searching for a needle in a haystack.

Of course issues of fairness and privacy are something else entirely is another issue entirely.

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