TSA Spends Roughly $1 Billion On Program That Resulted In One-Half Of One Percent Of Arrests For Identified Passengers

240px-tsa_-_logoWe have been discussing how, while cutting educational, environmental, and scientific programs, Congress continues to spend wildly on defense and national security regardless of documented waste or failures. Even titanic failures do not result in discipline or termination for officials. Given this record, the behavior detection program of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) must be viewed as a relatively success. TSA has spent roughly $900 million over the last 5 years for behavior detection officers to identify high-risk passengers. The result? One-half of one percent of flagged travelers were arrested and the number of terrorists was zero.

After close to a billion dollars, not a single terrorist was arrested and only 0.59% of the passengers flagged were arrested under its Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT) program. SPOT is working in 176 airports to “identify passenger behaviors indicative of stress, fear, or deception and refer passengers” and their baggage for additional screening.

There were 61,000 SPOT referrals. Of those, 8,700 (13.6%) were referred to a law enforcement officer and, of those, 365 (4%) “resulted in an arrest.” That is 365 of 61,000 SPOT referrals or 0.59%. The reasons for arrest are predictable (1) fraudulent documents, (2) illegal alien, (3) other, (4) outstanding warrants, (5) suspected drugs, and (6) undeclared currency. The success rate of the program is likely no more than a random stop program. If you stop people in airports or train stations and subject them to questioning and a background check, you will find the same type of violations in the same rough numbers.

At 365 arrests, we are talking about rough $2.5 million an arrest for things like undeclared currency.

When asked about the lack of results, the TSA simply argued that it is working in terms of “deterrence.” In other words, you can never measure the success because it is the absence of an event that proves its success. Of course, we can pay a billion dollars for TSA workers to swing chickens around their heads and cite the same conclusory cause-and-effect rationalization.

19 thoughts on “TSA Spends Roughly $1 Billion On Program That Resulted In One-Half Of One Percent Of Arrests For Identified Passengers”

  1. ANY expenditure by TSA, a totally unnecessary bureaucracy, is a waste of illegally procured taxpayer money.

  2. Anyone notice the Billions of dollars going into MIC seem to be targeting protection for the rich.(0.1%ers.)
    We are not protecting the constitution and the American populace rights.
    Our money is protecting the 0.1% rights to batter the constitution for their continuing profit. Congress is the tool of CMIC.

  3. If more guys would wear a kilt and take a couple of Viagra a half hour before going through the security checkpoint…..

  4. Supposedly the Israelis have confidence in a similar system to protect their air passenger traffic.

    It is hard to know what to make of this.

    Is the low success rate finding terrorist due to the fact that there are few terrorist or due to incompetence? I don’t know.

    The problem is I am not sure I trust TSA to evaluate its own results and congressional oversight – what oversight?

  5. Plus, I’m guessing that “(3) Other” is mostly “Publically and loudly objected to Scope ‘N’ Grope” and got arrested for Indecent Exposure of Familiarity with the Constitution.

  6. Maybe employing terrorists to look for their projected selves in others, keeps them off the streets. I don’t mean the folks who work at airports, but those who design the programs.

  7. Where do you sign up for a piece of the action…. Seems that the odds of winning are better than Texas Holdem…..

  8. The TSA is a horrible waste of money and time. They could save time and money by just having all passengers walk through metal detectors and forget the shoe or belt issues.

  9. The TSA picked up the protection racket from the Mafia. Except, the Mafia knew their business, the TSA are stupid bureaucrats.

  10. “One-half of one percent of flagged travelers were arrested and the number of terrorist was zero.”

    I would argue that this program has actually been zero percent effective. The TSA’s “administrative searches” should simply be for dangerous items that could reasonably harm an aircraft. (More than 3 oz of water would not fall into that category.)

    These searches, based on a TSA employee’s hunch, should not be used as an excuse to conduct a dragnet looking for relatively minor violations of the law. That is what we have police for. And “administrative searches” strike me as nothing but an attempt to circumvent “reasonable suspicion”.

  11. I’ve been paying $1,000 per month for Demming’s Special Blend Sasquatch Repellent and so far I’ve made one cow woozy and haven’t seen a Sasquatch.

    Must be workin’ as a deterrent.

  12. I have long thought we should hire retired cops, shrinks, PI’s, salespeople, etc. to merely sit near these lines and observe travelers. People who have spent their careers reading people would be invaluable in picking out the hinky ones. Hell, I bet some would volunteer, I would.

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