“As the man approached the airport security checkpoint here on Wednesday, he kept picking up and putting down his backpack, touching his fingers to his chin, rubbing some object in his hands and finally reaching for his pack of cigarettes, even though smoking was not allowed.”
Two Transportation Security Officials quickly detail the suspect, and submit him to a rigourous search, it is this behaviour that specialist officers are looking for in the United States’ latest counter measure on Aviation Terrorism.
Due to its success, the United States is to start a screening program inside its major airports, currently specially trained officers are able to detect the involuntary muscle movements of individuals and if required they will search that individual, these involuntary responses are very hard to conceal from people who are looking for the signs.
Currently the SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Technique) programme is only active in about a dozen airports, but the U.S Administration want thousands more officers trained by the end of the year, and to deploy on a massive scale across a broader range of Airports, particularly those handling International Flights from the United Kingdom and Middle East Destinations.
The Transportation Security Administration currently has 43,000 screeners and the SPOT programme is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the numbers they have trained in other fields, such as passenger searching, already however concerns have been highlighted over this new programme, some of which are very geniune, Airports are a very stressful place to be in, therefore innocent people may be pulled aside, and a real terrorist who is calculated and calm, gets through.
There are also concerns that new forms of Racial Profiling may come into effect and stereotypes will be introduced amongst individuals being searched, currently there is already mitigation in court over searches that have already been carried out using the SPOT technique, and if passengers did not co-operate they were threatened with detention.
One U.S Official described the technique as “casting a fishing net out, you catch what you catch, and hopefully someone in that net will be a terrorist”
Personally i feel its a very good idea, majority of people will have nothing to hide, and therefore will not be that aware of the officials watching them, they will probably be thinking about the first beach they are going to hit, where as a terrorist would be watching to see which officials are where, taking note of cameras, and trying to behave as normal as possible, which is a very hard thing to do when you know otherwise, and it is these involuntary muscle responses that officials hope to capitalize on.