Racial Profiling at BOS

Old Sep 1, 12, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
I am a BDO, and have never been given a quota, or even a hint of a quota of any nature. The program (in my experience) does not work the way indicated in the articles. We are specifically told and taught "Referrals are based on specific observed behaviors only, not on one's appearance, race, ethnicity or religion."
Don't forget that BOS is part of an acknowledged "pilot" program to interrogate passengers about their travel that goes well beyond the run-of-the-mill BDO program, which I assume is where you participate. A colleague of mine was subjected to 20-30 min of intrusive and IMO harassing questions on his residence, work, family, education, etc., by your pilot-program colleagues at BOS.

So, either by official policy or made up by the local management policy, BOS may have some sort of quotas beyond what you experience. Perhaps for no other reason than to ensure that the pilot is "successful."

I seriously doubt management told TSOs to go single out minorities. The leaders are stupid, but not that stupid. What I find plausible is that management told TSOs to generate some number of referrals, and the individuals involved started using their own experience and intuition, both right and wrong, as to which passengers were more likely to help fill their quota with drug finds, etc. It's completely non PC to admit this, but there is a statistically higher chance of "finding something" on certain ethnic/class groups relative to others (just look at conviction stats relative to proportion of population--no way that is *all* bias). But TSA and LEOs (rightly) aren't allowed to use that as selection criteria, because it leads to a very bad place. The problem is that if you set people loose with the BDO mission and a quota, human nature will kick in and use of inappropriate criteria is virtually inevitable. This is exactly the same scenario that has led to major racial profiling cases among state highway patrols.
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Old Sep 1, 12, 11:17 am
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The problem with quotas in this situation is also that it leads to an assumption that every day, every week, there will be 'x' number of guilty pax. Failure to meet the numbers suggests sub-par performance by the BDOs.

It also generates a false sense of security. If the targets are met, we must be safe - even if the targets are met by attacking folks who are not and never were a threat to aviation security.

Hypothetically, if part of TSA's 'unpredictable' approach (meaning "we can't train our people to maintain the same level of consistency that the average McDonald's worker produces) is to act as a deterrent to bad guys, at some point, most, if not all, of the bad guys will give up and go try something else somewhere else. If that is not true, then it undercuts TSA's rationale for random make-it-up-as-you-go standards at the checkpoint.

Imagine if the President's Secret Service worked this way - if they were required to 'bust' a certain number of suspicious characters every day as part of their job protecting the President. Does anyone think that would make the President safer? Or, instead, less safe, because a Secret Service agent who is pre-occupied with a quota might be so focused on a non-threat that will satisfy his quota that he misses a genuine threat.
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Old Sep 1, 12, 4:21 pm
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Originally Posted by jkhuggins View Post
Or, until the US flying public rises up and refuses to tolerate the current state of affairs. That ain't gonna happen any time soon, either.

Plenty of apathy on both sides to go around ...
I don't think "apathy" is part of the problem in many cases.

Too many TSA employees are entirely dependent on the lie that the TSA is the only thing keeping aircraft from being blown out of the sky to obtain their only possibility of a paycheck for it to be apathy on their part.

And too many sheep believe the lie, so they support "anything for the illusion of security."

Neither is apathy.
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Old Sep 1, 12, 5:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Caradoc View Post
I don't think "apathy" is part of the problem in many cases.

Too many TSA employees are entirely dependent on the lie that the TSA is the only thing keeping aircraft from being blown out of the sky to obtain their only possibility of a paycheck for it to be apathy on their part.

And too many sheep believe the lie, so they support "anything for the illusion of security."

Neither is apathy.
I would argue that many passengers are also dependent upon submitting to TSA's policies, because of the requirements that they travel by air for their (non-TSA) employers.

But ... yeah, "apathy" is probably not the right word for the argument I was trying to make. Which is it would be just as fair to "blame" the lack of change in TSA's policies on the millions of passengers who don't challenge those policies as the thousands of TSA employees who don't challenge them, either. Mass uprisings of either group have yet to be seen.

Of course, it's not fair to "blame" either group --- the real responsibility lies elsewhere.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 3:01 am
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Originally Posted by studentff View Post
Don't forget that BOS is part of an acknowledged "pilot" program to interrogate passengers about their travel that goes well beyond the run-of-the-mill BDO program, which I assume is where you participate. A colleague of mine was subjected to 20-30 min of intrusive and IMO harassing questions on his residence, work, family, education, etc., by your pilot-program colleagues at BOS.

So, either by official policy or made up by the local management policy, BOS may have some sort of quotas beyond what you experience. Perhaps for no other reason than to ensure that the pilot is "successful."

I seriously doubt management told TSOs to go single out minorities. The leaders are stupid, but not that stupid. What I find plausible is that management told TSOs to generate some number of referrals, and the individuals involved started using their own experience and intuition, both right and wrong, as to which passengers were more likely to help fill their quota with drug finds, etc. It's completely non PC to admit this, but there is a statistically higher chance of "finding something" on certain ethnic/class groups relative to others (just look at conviction stats relative to proportion of population--no way that is *all* bias). But TSA and LEOs (rightly) aren't allowed to use that as selection criteria, because it leads to a very bad place. The problem is that if you set people loose with the BDO mission and a quota, human nature will kick in and use of inappropriate criteria is virtually inevitable. This is exactly the same scenario that has led to major racial profiling cases among state highway patrols.
What you indicate is a natural progression in many cases, and may be the case here, it may also be that the senior management on scene told them "I want x number of pulls today, and x number of them must be of y ethnic group". At this point, we simply do not know what actually happened, and the sad thing is, we may never really know what happened. There is currently an investigation going on, to try and get to the bottom of the complaints and determine what (if anything) out of the ordinary has happened.

Based on information I have from fellow BDOs that are more familiar with the pilot program, they are subject to the same restrictions and prohibitions that I and all other BDOs are, so I really do not know what has happened up there - IF anything at all happened.

Originally Posted by chollie View Post
The problem with quotas in this situation is also that it leads to an assumption that every day, every week, there will be 'x' number of guilty pax. Failure to meet the numbers suggests sub-par performance by the BDOs.

It also generates a false sense of security. If the targets are met, we must be safe - even if the targets are met by attacking folks who are not and never were a threat to aviation security.

Hypothetically, if part of TSA's 'unpredictable' approach (meaning "we can't train our people to maintain the same level of consistency that the average McDonald's worker produces) is to act as a deterrent to bad guys, at some point, most, if not all, of the bad guys will give up and go try something else somewhere else. If that is not true, then it undercuts TSA's rationale for random make-it-up-as-you-go standards at the checkpoint.

Imagine if the President's Secret Service worked this way - if they were required to 'bust' a certain number of suspicious characters every day as part of their job protecting the President. Does anyone think that would make the President safer? Or, instead, less safe, because a Secret Service agent who is pre-occupied with a quota might be so focused on a non-threat that will satisfy his quota that he misses a genuine threat.
Agreed, and that is a part of why the regulations for this position specifically prohibit any sort of profiling, and direct the program to be focused solely on behaviors that are observed. Quotas do not serve in an industry that is not manufacturing or specific goal oriented - security should have no quotas unless you have something like an assigned pattern patrol (which boills down to x stops at x locations during an assigned shift - which is also bad security in and of itself). Quotas in a process like this, will only result in the wrong type of actions by the employees, and that is bad for the passengers, bad for the employees and bad for security.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 6:11 am
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Originally Posted by cottonmather0 View Post
Yeah, that's the problem and why it's not necessarily a "consensual search" if it's required to travel on a plane and it's being administered by a federal employee. Either they shouldn't be obligated to report anything except guns and explosives or federal employees shouldn't be the ones doing the searches.
^^ Very well stated. The federal government has created this problem with their "you must federalize to professionalize" bovine excrement.

Originally Posted by WillCAD View Post
To put it more plainly, how does a TSO know what is or is not an "illegal item?"

TSOs are not cops. They have no police powers, but they also have no specialized training in the interpretation or enforcement of the law. The vast majority of them have no degrees in law, criminology, or forensics, and they don't attend 3-6 month academies teaching them these things like police do.

In essence, a TSO's understanding of what is or is not an "illegal item" is no greater than the average person's, yet they're instructed to initiate a law enforcement investigation based on their flawed hunches and incomplete understanding of the law.

Weapons.

Explosives.

Incendiaries.

NOTHING else is their business. NOTHING else should be their focus.
Another ^^ for stating the patently (to anyone but a TSA employee) obvious.

Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
So TSA senior management are constitutional experts?

What I see from TSA is attempts to push the limits until someone (courts) pulls them back, yet legislation makes it almost impossible to take legal action against TSA.

I don't think our founders would approve of this situation or of TSA and I feel sorry that supposedly good citizens can somehow justify working for this agency.
^^ one more time. This scenario is not limited to TSA - it is applied across the federal government by virtually every agency with enforcement power. It is simply more visible when applied by TSA.

Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
What you indicate is a natural progression in many cases, and may be the case here, it may also be that the senior management on scene told them "I want x number of pulls today, and x number of them must be of y ethnic group". At this point, we simply do not know what actually happened, and the sad thing is, we may never really know what happened. There is currently an investigation going on, to try and get to the bottom of the complaints and determine what (if anything) out of the ordinary has happened.
LOL, unless the investigation is conducted by personnel outside TSA, we are never going to know what really happened. The federal government goes out of its way to make sure employee misconduct is covered up or spun to minimize the real story.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 6:19 am
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I took the time to read through the entire thread, including the article. The article itself is much more condemning of the TSA that almost all of the people posting. It is a serious accusation with a large number of people willing to stand up and say it is happening. At least 32 TSO's and multiple LEO's are mentioned by the article. The practice is repugnant and a bit scary in that secret procedures can be put into place to trap certain people outside of the TSA WEI mandate and it still be considered fine as they are trying to catch terrorists.

As to the bag searches for WEI that turn up other potentially illegal items, it is a difficult problem. However, the TSA is given statutory authority to look for WEI and that is not a problem. They do not, as far as I know, have statutory authority to do a search that includes the potential for criminal activity unrelated to aviation safety. It was said that they have the same responsibility to report potential illegal activity that is coincidentally found that a private citizen does. Fine, surrender the protection that being a federal employee gives to you in the performance of your duties to the reporting of non-WEI items, just like a private citizen, and then we will have a genuine comparison.

TSO's never operate without the protection of their position. It is what makes the expansion of the administrative search doctrine to the CP such a contentious policy, and it is the reason many of us say that its expansion exceeds the bounds of The Constitution, statutory authority and/or the regulatory process.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 8:24 am
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Originally Posted by jkhuggins View Post
Of course, it's not fair to "blame" either group --- the real responsibility lies elsewhere.
No, I think it's perfectly fair to blame the thug juggling my junk for doing so.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 9:18 am
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
LOL, unless the investigation is conducted by personnel outside TSA, we are never going to know what really happened. The federal government goes out of its way to make sure employee misconduct is covered up or spun to minimize the real story.
Many investigations by TSA internally have resulted in varying forms of discipline, ranging from a "Don't do that again" all the way to mass firings. The investigation in Hawaii began with complaints from TSO(s). Look at the boondoggle that turned out to be. I think that if something is there (and I concede that with this many employees coming forward, it is hard to imagine that nothing is going on), we will hear of some folks hitting the bricks. I also understand (having been involved in investigations before) that jumping to conclusions without evidence is a good way to make such a mess that the wrong people often get punished. A true investigation doesn't take place in a 45 minute tv show, or two days, it can take months to do things and do them right (unless you get what we used to call a golden egg - you have a full confession from someone deemed sane, and all the evidence links them, and even those took a couple of days to a month depending on the evidence processing/testing).
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Old Sep 2, 12, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Many investigations by TSA internally have resulted in varying forms of discipline, ranging from a "Don't do that again" all the way to mass firings. The investigation in Hawaii began with complaints from TSO(s). Look at the boondoggle that turned out to be. I think that if something is there (and I concede that with this many employees coming forward, it is hard to imagine that nothing is going on), we will hear of some folks hitting the bricks. I also understand (having been involved in investigations before) that jumping to conclusions without evidence is a good way to make such a mess that the wrong people often get punished.
No one is saying that the investigation should "jump to conclusions." I simply have little confidence that an in house investigation will hold senior people accountable for their role in crafting a policy that led to line TSO misconduct.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 11:30 am
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Many investigations by TSA internally have resulted in varying forms of discipline, ranging from a "Don't do that again" all the way to mass firings. The investigation in Hawaii began with complaints from TSO(s). Look at the boondoggle that turned out to be. I think that if something is there (and I concede that with this many employees coming forward, it is hard to imagine that nothing is going on), we will hear of some folks hitting the bricks. I also understand (having been involved in investigations before) that jumping to conclusions without evidence is a good way to make such a mess that the wrong people often get punished. A true investigation doesn't take place in a 45 minute tv show, or two days, it can take months to do things and do them right (unless you get what we used to call a golden egg - you have a full confession from someone deemed sane, and all the evidence links them, and even those took a couple of days to a month depending on the evidence processing/testing).
The public has a right to know the degree of corruption in government agencies and with TSA doing the invedtigation we will never know the whole story. Tsa, the corrupt investigating the corrupt.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 3:24 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Many investigations by TSA internally have resulted in varying forms of discipline, ranging from a "Don't do that again" all the way to mass firings. The investigation in Hawaii began with complaints from TSO(s). Look at the boondoggle that turned out to be. I think that if something is there (and I concede that with this many employees coming forward, it is hard to imagine that nothing is going on), we will hear of some folks hitting the bricks. I also understand (having been involved in investigations before) that jumping to conclusions without evidence is a good way to make such a mess that the wrong people often get punished. A true investigation doesn't take place in a 45 minute tv show, or two days, it can take months to do things and do them right (unless you get what we used to call a golden egg - you have a full confession from someone deemed sane, and all the evidence links them, and even those took a couple of days to a month depending on the evidence processing/testing).
The concern here is multi-faceted.

TSOs and LEOs have come forward to say that there was racial profiling (which is a fancy Newspeak term for persecuting people based on their race rather than on any kind of legitimate evidence, cause, or suspicion).

We're concerned that this profiling is mandated by the secret policies outlined in secret documents which are not available for us (the public) to review. You can deny it all you want, but until those documents come out, there is no way to prove that racial profiling is not an official part of TSA's SOP.

We're also concerned that, even if there is no official policy of racial profiling, it may be an unofficial, unspoken policy, encouraged in a quiet wink-wink manner by TSA management in BOS, and either not known or tolerated or even encouraged by TSA higher management.

We're concerned that the entire BDO or enhanced interrogation pilot program in place at BOS is inherently flawed. These programs may have a built-in racial, cultural, gender, or age bias, or the implementation of the programs may be inherently flawed by the biases of those who created them, or the programs may be inherently flawed in that they don't compensate for possible inherent bias on the part of individual BDOs.

And we're concerned that an investigation of TSA by TSA may cut loose some scapegoats - a few bad apples - while not addressing the actual problems that caused the racial profiling in the first place, because TSA's primary aim in this investigation is not to solve the actual problem, but to address the public-relation problem alone.

So, even if we do hear of some folks hitting the bricks, I won't be satisfied with that unless the investigation is conducted by objective third-parties outside of DHS, or the entire interrogation and BDO programs are eliminated.

Scratch that. I won't be satisfied till those programs are eliminated. Period. There is no justification for them, and they are far too dangerous to allow them to continue.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 6:04 pm
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Originally Posted by WillCAD View Post
We're concerned that the entire BDO or enhanced interrogation pilot program in place at BOS is inherently flawed.
I think the Nature article says everything we might need to know about the fatally flawed "BDO" program.

Namely:

Ekman's findings are "incongruent with all the rest of the data on detecting deception from observation".
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Old Sep 2, 12, 9:56 pm
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Originally Posted by gsoltso View Post
Many investigations by TSA internally have resulted in varying forms of discipline, ranging from a "Don't do that again" all the way to mass firings. ... I think that if something is there ..., we will hear of some folks hitting the bricks. ...
Originally Posted by WillCAD View Post
And we're concerned that an investigation of TSA by TSA may cut loose some scapegoats - a few bad apples - while not addressing the actual problems that caused the racial profiling in the first place, because TSA's primary aim in this investigation is not to solve the actual problem, but to address the public-relation problem alone.
This.

There are too many incidents where we never hear the outcome, but of the rest, there's way too much "retraining" and "reprimanded", with the occasional "no longer works for TSA." But the policies themselves continue, to be used (or abused) by the next load of bad apples.
Originally Posted by WillCAD View Post
Scratch that. I won't be satisfied till those programs are eliminated. Period. There is no justification for them, and they are far too dangerous to allow them to continue.
+1e6. BDOs, NoS, groping, shoe carnival, the war on liquids, the lot.
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Old Sep 2, 12, 10:20 pm
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Originally Posted by jkhuggins View Post
...
TSA has lawyers that claim that what TSA is doing is constitutional. ...
Originally Posted by RichardKenner View Post
I disagree with that. I think you're assuming the courts operate at a speed much faster than they do. Many of the procedures we're talking about have only been in effect for a few years. It takes far longer than that for constitutional cases to work their way through.
Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
TSA's brain trust is imposing rules on the public without any real means of challenging those rules. TSA has failed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act prior to its rulemaking and even when ordered by a court to conduct a period of public comment has failed to act promptly to do so.
I agree with Richard and BD. At best, TSA has lawyers that claim that what TSA is doing has not yet been shown to be unconstitutional.

In practice, TSA claims that their policies, SOP, regulations, etc, are necessary, whether or not they're constitutional. They'll push it until some case makes it through the court system; even then they may ignore the court's ruling, as they've ignored the Congress and the APA, expecting that subsequent victims will not pursue the matter.
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