Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel Safety/Security > Checkpoints and Borders Policy Debate
Reload this Page >

House Homeland Security hearing on TSA profiling today

House Homeland Security hearing on TSA profiling today

Old Jun 4, 19, 2:18 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 963
House Homeland Security hearing on TSA profiling today

Primary topics: "behavior detection" program, racial & religious profiling, hair & headgear screening.


  • W. William Russell, Acting Director, Homeland Security and Justice Team, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Sim J. Singh, Senior Manager of Policy & Advocacy, The Sikh Coalition
  • Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.


I've copied the entire captions below (extracted from YouTube's caption file).

It's live captioning, so it has lots of errors and lacks speaker identification. I'd appreciate if someone could clean it up. Please remove it from replies unless that's what you're doing.

continue to target the transportation
sector and would like nothing better
than to take a plane out of the sky
every member of this committee
appreciates the need to protect against
that threat this committee is focused on
ensuring that TSA continues to mature
into an effective professionalized
agency that fulfills its security
mission in a manner that does not allow
unlawful profiling or discrimination the
report Gao is releasing today shows that
TSA is current operations do not meet
the mark Gao found that TSA has entire
profiling policies in place for its
behavioral detection program yet lacks
an oversight mechanism to ensure entire
profiling policies are actually followed
given the concerns this committee and
others have voiced for more than a
decade regarding TSA is behavior
detection program and the door it opens
to unlawful profiling it is
unconscionable that TSA has not
developed better oversight procedures
Jos new report follows a 2013 report
that recommended that Congress limit
future funding for TSA s behavior
detection activities it also follows Gao
s 2017 finding that TSA lacks valid
scientific evidence to support nearly 80
percent of the behaviors it relies upon
to identify suspicious travelers for
additional screening meanwhile TSA has
not provided sufficient evidence of the
security benefits of behavior detection
TSA has scaled back the scope of its
behavior detection program but the
logical conclusion for years of evidence
is clear it is time to end the program
entirely for today's report Gao also
looked at 3,700 complaints related to
civil rights and civil liberties
against the agency over two and a half
years and found over 1,000 complaints
with potential indicators of
discrimination these complaints allege a
variety of discriminatory incidents and
practices encompassing all of TSA
screening operation DHS response to Jos
finding shows the department does not
understand the gravity of the allegation
its faces DHS stated it was pleased to
note that GAO identifies only 3,700
complaints related to passenger
screening alleging civil rights and
civil liberties violations during the
relevant time period DHS has missed the
point entirely
first 3,700 is not an insignificant
number a single incident where traveler
feels traumatized as a result of
allegedly discriminatory treatment is
certainly not insignificant to that
person and should not be considered
insignificant to anyone under my
leadership this committee will not
ignore or downplay the significance of
any American making a creditable
allegation of discrimination by their
government as TSA says not on our watch
moreover incidents are likely unreported
as people who are discriminated against
in various ways throughout society may
not have the time or resources to large
formal complaints in every instance it
is clear from the complaints Jo has
documented and recent media reports that
TSA screening processes
disproportionately impact minority
populations in particular advanced
imaging technology or AIT machines
regularly alarm on certain populations
such as Sikh passengers african-american
women and transgender people leading to
increased delays and pat-downs
AR t machines rely on augur isms that
define what TSA considers normal and
religious head wear here styles are
bodies that fall outside
definition a flagged for further
inspection tsa must improve this
technology to address this issue while
considering the diversity of the public
when it solicit and test new technology
finally I want to make clear my concerns
are not with the TSA workforce TSA is
frontline officers have proven their
commitment to TSA A's mission despite
insufficient pay and during the
government shutdown
mr. paychecks over and over again TSA
has made the news due to a poor
passenger screening experience and after
an investigation TSA statement has
almost always noted that officers
followed security protocols
appropriately by and large TSA problems
lie with its procedures not its officers
as for the agency our command TSA for
the work it is done to engage advocacy
group improve cultural awareness
training for officers the next step is
for TSA to ensure it's fully consider
this concerns voiced by multicultural
groups when developing technologies and
screening procedures TSA must provide
effective security without
disproportionately impacting certain
groups of Americans this is not
either-or proposition TSA interacts more
intimately with the public on a regular
basis than any other government agency
screening over two million passengers
every day and physically touching many
of them for many TSA is not just the
public face of government but its hands
to its success as a security agency
depends upon the trust and compliance of
a diverse public I hope to have a
productive dialogue today about how we
can continue to move TSA taught that
important goal I thank the members for
joining us and look forward to our
discussion chair now recognizes the
ranking member of the full committee the
gentleman from Alabama mr. Rogers for an
opening statement Thank You mr. chairman
unfortunately allegations of unlawful
nothing new for TSA since the agency was
created after 9/11 and has faced
allegations that its screening practice
is unfairly targets certain populations
of travelers some of these allegations
have stemmed from TSA s behavior
detection program throughout the program
several iterations the TSA is faced
bipartisan criticism from this committee
for its lack of scientific validation in
evaluating passengers risk to the
aviation security that is why I'm
pleased that last Congress the
Republican majority enacted legislation
representative Katt co-authored to end
stand-alone behavior detection officer
positions and require them to be
integrated into the primary screening
functions at checkpoints this important
step has helped alleviate passenger wait
times while sending a strong message to
TSA about Congress's dissatisfaction
with the behavior objection detection
program in the most recent review Gao
issued a single recommendation for TSA
to establish an oversight mechanism to
better monitor behavior detection
activities TSA should implement the
implement this recommendation
immediately I would note that during the
four year period of Geo considered as
part of this report TSA conducted nearly
three billion passenger screenings of
those three billion only 1066 passengers
had allegations of unlawful profiling
that were substantiated and resulted in
employee retraining that's an average of
one substantiated allegation for every
two-and-a-half 2.8 million passengers
screened in no way does this minimize
the very real experiences of those who
have faced discrimination even one
incident is too many
however this context is important the
vast majority of Tears officers conduct
themselves professionally it would be
unfortunate for this committee to send a
message to them or the traveling public
that unlawful profiling is rampant
within the ranks when according to this
data it is not in contrast to the low
rates of unlawful profiling previous
media reports have highlighted the very
high rates of TSA screeners spelling to
take threats at checkpoints I hoped at
some point in the near future the
majority will focus on oversight efforts
on finding a solution to this tremendous
risk to aviation security finally this
is the second hearing concerning TSA in
as many weeks where the majority chose
not to invite the agency to testify
I think all members would agree that it
would be would have been beneficial for
the TSA to appear today to respond to
the gstl report and the perspectives of
other witnesses at some point I hope the
majority will seek input from TSA on
these important issues in the interim I
look forward to this hearing and from
our witnesses today thank you I yield
other members of the committee are
reminded that under committee rules
opening statements may be submitted for
the record also we hadn't formed a
minority weeks ago that we intended to
hold this hearing today and formal
notice of the hearing I must made in
full compliance with the rules we too
would have wanted TSA to be here the
committee has been engaged with TSA and
other stakeholders and this is just part
of what we have to do to look at this
situation so we look forward to getting
TSA before the committee at some point
I'd also like to welcome our panel of
witnesses today our first witness mr.
William Russell is an acting director of
the Government Accountability Office
homeland security and justice team ways
responsible for leading Gao Yao's worked
on aviation and transportation security
mr. Russell has over 17 years of
experience at Gao and was previously an
assistant director in Jos contracting
and national security ex acquisition
team mr. sim Singh is a senior manager
of policy and advocacy at the Sikh
coalition where he works on national
advocacy issues against hate crime
school bullying employer discrimination
and racial profiling proud to joining a
Sikh coalition mr. Singh developed apps
that provide free legal resources for
highly vulnerable communities and worked
in go know Affairs through prior
positions at Facebook and the US Chamber
of Commerce miss Janie Nelson is
associate director counsel for the
n-double-a-cp legal defense and
education fund Incorporated
was he helped oversee the operation of
LDLs program prior to drawing LDF in
June 2014 miss Nelson held senior
leadership positions at st. John
University School of Law where she also
was a full professor of law without
objection a witness's full statement
will be inserted in the record and I now
ask each witness to summarize here's her
statement for five minutes beginning
with mr. Russell good morning chairman
Thompson ranking member Rogers and
members of the committee I'm pleased to
be here today to discuss perspectives on
TSA s policies to prevent unlawful
profiling while screening passengers and
our report issued today we examined a
range of issues related to how TSA
implements policies that prohibit
unlawful profiling to include oversight
of behavior detection activities as well
as how TSA addressed passenger screening
related complaints that alleged
profiling and other civil rights and
civil liberty issues the bottom line is
that TSA has policies and procedures in
place that prohibit unlawful profiling
of passengers but can improve oversight
of its behavior detection activities
related to profiling second based on our
review of passenger screening related
complaints TSA found indications of
potential discrimination and
unprofessional conduct by screeners that
involved race or other factors for more
than 1,000 of the complaints reviewed in
terms of behavior detection oversight
TSA began using behavior detection in a
more limited way in 2016 to identify
potentially high-risk passengers who
exhibit certain behaviors it asserts our
indicative of stress fear or deception
and refer them for additional screening
we found that TSA has oversight policies
for behavior detection that do prohibit
unlawful profiling but does not
specifically assess whether profiling
occurs for example TSA is optimize
behavior detection handbook and
oversight guidance requires supervisors
to conduct routine checks on behavior
detection operations to monitor
compliance with standard operating
this includes seven specific assessments
and checklists for managers to document
completion of routine oversight
however our review of the checklist
found that they do not specifically
instruct supervisors to monitor for
compliance with procedures intended to
prohibit unlawful profiling we
recommended that TSA develop a specific
oversight mechanism to address
compliance in this regard TSA agreed to
do so implants implement this
recommendation by the end of September
2019 second apart from behavior
detection we also examine civil rights
and civil liberty related passenger
screening complaints received by TSA
from October 2015 through February 2018
and looked at what TSA did to address
those complaints in total TSA received
about 3,700 of these types of complaints
the majority of which alleged
discrimination are profiling based on
personal attributes and characteristics
a number of specific complaints related
to hair and transgender issues TSA is
multicultural branch the office
responsible for reviewing these types of
complaints assess over 2,000 of them and
for about half 1,066 to be exact
found indications of potential
discrimination and unprofessional
conduct that involved race or other
factors for example in one case we
reviewed a passenger alleged profiling
based on head wear TSA officials used
camera recordings and statements from
officers involved in the encounter to
substantiate that screening procedures
and violations had occurred in response
to these complaints TSA recommended a
range refresher training across airports
or for screeners at individual airports
identified in the complaints we found
that TSA s responses to the complaint
ins included but we're not limited to
apologizing for the screening experience
or informing the complaint about next
steps such as agency plans to address
the complaint or the underlying conduct
that gave rise to it we also found that
TSA reviewed trends in the passenger
complaint data and use that information
to further inform an update screen or
training in conclusion TSA can improve
how it conducts Oh
site of behavior detection activities
related to profiling and should continue
efforts to identify and address
passenger screening complaints that
alleged civil rights and civil liberty
issues chairman Thompson ranking member
Rogers this concludes my prepared
remarks I look forward to any questions
you may have thank you very much for
your testimony I now recognize mr. Singh
to summarize his statement for five
minutes I'd like to thank this committee
including chairman Thompson and ranking
member Rogers for their leadership and
the opportunity to be here today
my name is sim Jai Singh and I am the
senior manager of advocacy and policy at
the Sikh coalition the nation's largest
America mericans civil rights
organization we are a nonpartisan
nonprofit focused on combating and
preventing hate in America we recognize
the importance of TSA s mission to
protect this nation's transportation
systems to ensure freedom of movement
for people and commerce however if that
is TSA s mandate they must ensure the
freedom of movement for all people
regardless of their race sex gender
identity national origin religion and
disability in 2019 we continue to
receive complaints from Sikh travelers
across the nation reporting troubling
incidents of profiling and
discrimination often times these
incidents involve secondary screening
demands without any TSA technology
indicating there is a problem these
discriminatory actions combined with a
lack of clear traveler guidance has led
to sick passengers feeling frustrated
and singled out because they experience
inconsistent TSA security screenings
between airports and even within
specific airports of frequent travel
while TSA s increased reliance on
technology has come with government
assurances that it would mitigate
against the need for pat-downs and
searches that violate basic civil rights
this has not solved the discriminatory
and invasive screening practices that
enable the profiling of six as a Sikh
American and frequent traveler who
maintains my religious articles of faith
I almost always experience an AIT alarm
indicating that
I turbine is a problem and that I must
undergo additional screening ordinarily
by explosive trace detection a device
that we received many complaints about
for false alarms usually because the TSO
failed to change our gloves and/or the
ETD swab additional screening and
searches for observant 6 remains highly
probable reinforcing that current TSA
technology policies and procedures
continue to single out and target our
community the message at airports across
the country to millions of passengers
watching six hour Outsiders that somehow
post threats worthy of investigating
regardless of how pretextual that
investigation is these discriminatory
practices continue to shift the focus
away from the TSA s top priority of
protecting our nation the office of the
Inspector General has repeatedly
documented threats such as guns knives
and explosives breezing through TSA
security checkpoints with ease as tsa
continues to disproportionately focus on
discriminatory behaviors like Sikh
religious articles of faith it takes
away from the necessary focus of
combatting credible threats
unlike most Americans six are
continually asked to pay a price for
exercising our constitutional rights by
submitting to routine and frequent
searches by TSA it further perpetuates
negative stereotypes and falsely
validates the myth of racial and
religious communities posing a threat to
our country
TSO s and other passengers witnessing
minorities disproportionately receiving
these additional screenings leads to the
creation of implicit and explicit biases
that detrimental e influence security
policies and behavior which justify
scrutinizing specific kinds of travelers
on racial or religious grounds
that begs the question are we really
going to always select a Sikh for
additional screening because he or she
wears a turban and more importantly why
is this treatment considered acceptable
we request members of this committee in
Congress to reintroduce and pass the end
racial profiling Act to
prehensile II address bias and limit the
harmful impacts of algorithmic bias
second our government must correct
screening policies and procedures that
enable profiling such as TSO abuses of
discretion that is often used as pretext
to profile third any new technology
procedures must reduce the use of
pat-downs and ensure that travelers
aren't singled out based on their race
religion or gender these invasive TSO
administered pat-downs should be an
absolute last resort where other
screening procedures cannot resolve an
lastly Congress should mandate
independent and regular civil liberties
impact assessments and require data
collection on secondary screening
incidents by the TSA it is our sincere
hope that this committee and TSA
addressed the need for profiling
protections and eliminate discriminatory
practices not just for the religiously
observant six and Muslims but also for
the disability transgender and other
minority communities it is not a
coincidence that the American public
continues to fear and discriminate
against those whom our government
continues to discriminate against when a
turban SiC is routinely subjected to
secondary screenings without cause it
further validates every false stereotype
that contributes to six remaining
hundreds of times more likely to
experience bias bigotry or backlash in
America we're deeply appreciative for
the time given today for the Sikh
American community to raise our concerns
thank you for your testimony now
recognize mr. Nelson to summarize her
statement for five minutes
offense and Educational Fund thank you
for the opportunity to testify this
LDF is the nation's oldest civil and
human rights law organization LDF was
founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall and
in the 80 years since its inception it
has used legal advocacy strategies to
promote the full equal and active
citizenship of black Americans that
includes litigating the seminal case of
Brown versus Board of Education and
Newman vs. piggie Park Enterprises which
is important for our purposes here today
because it upheld title 2 of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 is prohibition on
racial discrimination in public
accommodations for as long as we have
been in this country black people have
faced discrimination that impedes our
mobility in public spaces and
discrimination in various spheres
because of our hair indeed the civil
rights movement that ended legal
apartheid in the United States was
anchored in acts of resistance related
to transportation including the bravery
of women like Rosa Parks and children
like Claudette Colvin the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 was built on the foundation
that Congress can take action to
prohibit racial discrimination that
impedes travel and thereby impedes
interstate commerce black woman's here
has also never ceased to be policed from
forcible head coverings in the
antebellum South to the present day
denial of employment and other rights
based on our hair texture and treatment
in light of this history we at LDF are
deeply troubled that TSA s full-body
scanners disproportionately single out
black women for additional and
burdensome security procedures including
invasive and humiliating hair pat-downs
this systemic infringement on the
mobility of black women by a government
agency must be corrected and we are
heartened that this committee is taking
up the charge roughly 8% of the u.s.
adult population of flyers is black
19% is Latin X and 6% is Asian however
reports suggests that countless black
travelers have experienced heightened
suspicion and profiling as a result of
TSA technology that singles out black
people in airports particularly black
women simply because the technology is
unable to distinguish contraband from
natural black hair the false positives
produced by TSA x' full-body scanners
exemplify the impact of purportedly
race-neutral technology that nonetheless
perpetuates racial profiling whether
they are high-profile celebrities
business travellers or general commuters
for black women TSA scanners are one
more assault in a constant barrage of
risk assessments to which they are
subjected on a daily basis and which
reflect deep-rooted biases and
historical associations between race and
dangerousness more of a racial
discrimination is a proven threat to our
national security
yet TSA has not justified that it's
highly criticized practice of violative
hair pat-downs improved security to the
contrary security experts have called
into question whether these additional
screenings are an effective use of TSA
personnel time and resources most
disturbing perhaps is that top TSA
officials do not seem to recognize that
a system that disproportionately singles
out black women is discriminatory we
know that technology is susceptible to
biases of the humans who created this
means that technology that uses white
phenotype as a default can easily
produce biased outcomes against people
of color and this issue is not new not
only did this committee hold a hearing
on these issues a little over a year ago
TSA has been aware of discriminatory and
biosecurity practices for years in 2015
it entered a settlement agreement over
the very issue of racially profiling
black hair to be very clear we recognize
and respect TSA s important security
functions at our nation's airports
however I want to stress
that we can maintain security in our
nation's airports while maintaining the
human dignity of our nation's travelers
we can pursue new technology and not
compromise civil and human rights in
fact these goals cannot only coexist by
law they must in closing we acknowledge
TSA is important charge to ensure safe
travel while meeting its obligation to
treat all passengers with dignity we
also appreciate the attention this
committee has paid to this important
issue and thank you for your
consideration and for the opportunity to
testify today
I think the witnesses for that testimony
and I remind each member that he or she
will have five minutes to question the
panel I now recognize myself for
questions let me say from the outset
that I think it's clear that every
member of this committee wants to get it
right the traveling public has a duty to
be safe and we have an obligation to
make sure that that process which they
get screened is the best system our
challenge and I'm speaking for the chair
is I've had experiences as an African
American that perhaps some of my other
colleagues haven't when I've had to
question why am I being put in secondary
screening and it was always not real
clear as to why and I hear comments
quite often so one of the reason we're
trying to have this hearing is to get it
right how can we reduce those numbers
down as low as possible we have invested
in technology we're continuing to invest
in technology and we've done away with
some of the uses behavioural detection
officers and other things that didn't
have real science behind them but we
still have to work at getting it right
because a lot of these instances are
still occurring one of the things I'd
like to ask mr. Ross
is is there a clear travelers redress
available to someone who feel that he or
she has been singled out for
discrimination so we found in our most
recent report was that there are three
main ways to do that and basically
you're going to contact the TSA contact
center which handles all the complaints
but you could do that via phone email or
electronic communication and then there
are comment cards at airports that you
can fill out as well so those are the
three main avenues and you have 180 days
after the experience - to lodge that
complaint with TSA so is to your
knowledge were you able to ascertain
whether or not individuals who are going
through that process I told that so
there are officials at the airports that
can help customers or customer service
representatives that can help steer
passengers in the right place if if they
know to find them
as well as how we talked about it in the
thus saying your experience on the group
you here representing has that process
been clear to those individuals it's not
really been clear for individuals and in
fact I would say that the word comment
cards is a deceptive practice it doesn't
really indicate that this is a complaint
form for a traveler to use secondly
travelers were already delayed and
frustrated with the secondary screening
procedures have flights to catch they're
not going to try to hang around at the
airport to try to ascertain who the
appropriate individual is to complain
and so we developed the fly rights app
to helpfully make it a little bit more
accessible we launched this app in 2012
so that complaints could be officially
made through our app and forwarded to
TSA you know TSA has done a little bit
more in terms of the online space
allowing for complaints
but I think people are tired of
complaining for 18 years and seeing
little to no change the inconsistent
application of security procedures and
discretion at airports makes the job too
big of a problem to always complain
about and the entire system really
requires an overhaul as a top-down
messaging is not effectively implemented
by airports and security officials that
kind of govern themselves the more
sophisticated technology such as AIT is
also often perceived as superior to
human expertise and people are left to
make a generalized complaint about the
Machine not necessarily about the TSO or
a specific airport I mean they may not
even understand that the technology
they're using is a problem for them
thank you very much miss Nelson what's
been your experience with people making
complaints well my experience has been
that as as micro panelists have
described the process is not clear it
leaves a lot to be desired currently if
a complaint is lodged and supplemental
information is requested and it is not
provided within a 10 day window the
administrative complaint is closed so
the 3,700 complaints that were
identified in the GAO reports really
does not represent the lion's share of
incidences that happen at airports that
go unreported and ultimately hour later
dismissed because they are not fully
complete one of the five recommendations
that the Legal Defense Fund is making is
that the complaint process be overhauled
that there is greater public education
and ad campaigns about the ability to
lodge such complaints and when
passengers complain to t SOS and
complain to airport security personnel
they should be immediately offered an
opportunity to file a complaint then or
to later do so online thank you very
much I yield to the ranking member I
think you mr. chairman and I would tell
mr. Singh and mr. Nelson that uh AIT
machines I have been a longtime critic
of the technology and they have worked
for years to make sure we don't purchase
any more of them I think they need to be
out of our airports as soon as we can
replace them with a better technology
but miss Russell at ESA has struggled
for a long time with screening in a way
the treats everybody fairly but they
seem to have been hung up on this
behavior detection approach even though
we've had told them to stop using it
why do you think that they continue to
lean on this approach to screening along
with using AIT when there are better
technologies available what they've
reported to us is that they just
consider behavior detection as one layer
of security among many you know you have
secure flight the technology at the
checkpoint and that that's a useful
security measure to help counter threats
to aviation what we've said in our past
report it's that there was little valid
evidence to support a good number of the
indicators that are in use and had
recommended that they limit funding
until such time that they get that that
ballot support and as was mentioned the
aviation security Act of 2016 helped TSA
in the stand alone behavior detection
program and now those staff trained in
that function have been converted to
regular air transportation security
officers but don't you find that they
still use that approach and they're
screening practices even though they've
been told to move on to a different job
right what we found is they're still
being used in a limited way in support
of passenger screening k9 teams as well
as vetting of airport workers as they
come to work every day one of the
arguments for using a federalized
screening personnel as opposed to
allowing airports to privatize the
screening personnel let them just be
supervised by TSA is that it's
supposedly supposed to offer more
consistency in the way screening is done
have you found that to be true
justly yeah there's a lot of
inconsistencies to me right that wasn't
something we looked at at this review
the that comparison between the SPP
airports and and a federalize TSA
airport this thing I heard you mentioned
a few minutes ago that you had seen some
tsa not enough but some improvements
miss Nelson is that your view there have
been some improvements at TSA well we
just mentioned that there's a diminished
use of behavioral techniques and that is
certainly an improvement but we still
have a very long way to go there are
very sound practices that can also keep
us safe and we do not believe as the
chairman emphasized in his opening
remarks that it is an either/or equation
it's not a zero-sum question we can
protect civil rights we can protect
human rights and we can protect our
national security
thank you chair recognizes gentlelady
from Texas miss Jackson Lee for five
it's chairman first of all let me thank
you for the hearing and thank you for
the ranking member joining we have been
together on this committee for a very
long time and address these issues that
are extremely important I want to take
note miss Nelson because I think it's
important that people know what is in
your testimony as relates to TSA and you
very openly say we appreciate TSA s role
in maintaining safe travel as well as
its attention to the ongoing problems
discussed in a testimony so I wanted to
be known that we understand I think each
and every witness members here
understand the frontline
responsibilities of the Transportation
Security Administration as well as the
TSA officers and we offer them our
gratitude but we live in a nation of
laws and we believe we still live in a
nation that adheres to the rule of law
and as well our basic principles of
human dignity in due process and so I
think this hearing is crucial because it
is important to get things correct on
how we balance the aftermath of 9/11
when the naivete of the United States
was breached and we understood that we
had the responsibility of security so
I'm gonna ask I think in your report mr.
Russell you indicated
that a number of these complaints were
heavily in about ten cities am I correct
on the 3700 complaints right that the
top three were LAX JFK and then Atlanta
do you attribute that to the size of the
airports and not necessarily that it's
not going on all across the nation
that's certainly one factor I mean those
are some of the busiest airports in the
country we just provided that data but
we didn't make a judgement beyond that
and so the the most important point that
you want to make out of your
recommendation is what
so TSA has a number of oversight
mechanisms already in place for the
remaining parts of behavior detection
that it employs but we think they need
to go one step further and make sure
there's a specific mechanism within
their oversight checklists and their
policies to specifically look for
instances of our indications of
profiling as they're doing their their
due diligence so this should be a
Pacific mechanism correct to say it
again so this is and this is what TSA
agreed to is to go back look at their
the whole process they use for oversight
actually documenting what the supervisor
is observing as the behavior detection
is being conducted and to have a
specific place to look for indications
of profiling and then to remark whether
they're seeing something or not so that
you could go back later they have to
internally do this they have to set up a
structure and do this themselves correct
mr. Singh let me thank you very much
first of all we will answer your
question we are in the process in a
committee that works very closely with
this command Judiciary Committee to
reintroduce the in racial profiling and
I look forward to leading that effort so
thank you very much I just want to
quickly say that I'm reminded of an
Indian Sikh in right after 9/11 mr.
Saudi who was killed in Mesa Arizona and
the person who killed him was Frank Rock
I believe I'm going to go out and shoot
some towelheads and we should kill their
children too because they'll grow up to
be like their parents the intensity of
that hatred is research
I do want to acknowledge and put in the
record our Hargens Saudi who's currently
a rising junior at the University of
Houston and he came to my office in
Houston from the silk LEED program and
he is in fact related to mr. a Saudi
which tells us that when we kill we may
kill one but the spirit and the strength
of our communities will remain strong I
ask you the question how the community
feels and you sort of represent others
who may be similarly dressed in other
religious garb in terms of what they
feel what what it means when they go to
an airport and expect to be or are
treated that way I'm going to ask that
question cuz I'm going to quickly go to
miss Nelson so that you can ask the
question my constituent miss Mohammed
was treated unfairly in Atlanta which
I'm still pursuing and I asked the
question to you what is the most key
thing that we will need to do you said
an appeal process or you said a process
that captures where they can apply
directly at the airport which i think is
extremely important so mr. chairman if
you don't mind if they could answer
those departments are saying your answer
and then mr. Nelson thank you so very
much first of all thank you so much for
that recognition for the legacy of mr.
Saudi travelers feel humiliated they
feel ashamed they feel stigmatized and
they feel left out in short they also
feel like second-class citizens and
sometimes like model minorities that are
not helping their own community miss
Nelson you asked about additional
recommendations to improve the process
and in while the the GAO report that was
released this morning is laudable and it
was an insightful assessment there
should be a full audit of TSA practices
and policies to determine two things one
whether they in fact serve national
security interests and two are they the
least discriminatory means of serving
those goals no one group or several
groups of citizens who are already
marginalized should bear the
responsibility of security procedures
are not effective thank you very much
chairman thank you thank you very much
if this gentleman from New York will
allow me to recognize for point of
personal privilege the other gentleman
from New York chair would appreciate it
this time short I understand you have a
special guest in the audience mr. rose
that you might want to introduce to the
committee mr. chairman thank you very
much for that for that honor I would
like to recognize my mother and my aunt
and my wonderful cousin who is out there
please stand up row real quickly mom and
Rachel stand up stand up say hello all
right okay I'm not repeating that
gentleman yield back yeah let's strike
that from the record when you just said
all right yeah you know Bank gentleman
from New York is recognized for five
minutes mr. rose owes me a beer now mr.
Chairman I thank you for having this
hearing it's very important and I agree
with the sentiments expressed by both
yourself and the ranking member that
even one incident of racial profiling is
too much so I commend all of you for
being here today
I must say though that I'm a little
concerned with TSA and it seems to be a
problem that's more endemic to the the
whole administrative executive branch
function of our government as a whole
and that is I sometimes it seems like
they dictate the terms by which they
appear here and that shouldn't be if
they're given 12 days notice or we make
inquiries about whether we wanted you
have a witness either in a majority or
us in a minority 12 they should be
sufficient for them to get their
internal approvals done and they
signaled to us repeatedly that that they
need more time to prepare the witnesses
and if this Raquel Stearns continues I
think we should God we should consider
using a subpoena process because TSA
should be here to face the fire TSA is a
one we're concerned with and TSA zone
one not here at the table so in my mind
TSA we should take a little more
aggressive approach in a future if
necessary mr. chairman is iris
please suggest duly noted yeah thank you
plus I was a prosecutor and I like
subpoenas tends to get people's opinion
tends to get people's attention
now mr. Russell we've talked about this
behavior detection but as the chairman
noted in his opening statement we've
passed a bill out of here one of my
bills that outlawed using behavior
detection officers and then in the line
to determine which boy they go to
pre-check or not I want to understand
how exactly are they using these these
officers now so over the course of our
review they were using them for in
support of passenger screening k9 teams
as well as screening of aviation workers
so are they stationed at a station at
the line when people are coming in or or
what so they would be with the actual k9
units wherever they're operating and
then depending on how the airport is set
up to do their screening of workers they
would be position there is that your
understanding as well mr. Singh that's
probably SSI we're not privileged to so
I couldn't comment on that okay well I
want to get mr. Singh I want to get some
examples from you some more specific
examples of when you think that they've
been profiling in a in a in a not an
appropriate manner give me specific
examples it's just so I can understand
them and not appropriate manner yeah so
I will highlight one of them a sick
traveler within the past two months flew
out of ewr three times twice from
terminal C and once from Terminal A when
he flew out of terminal C in both
instances he was told he cannot do a
self pat-down of his turban the TSO and
the manager said that the rules have
changed and that they have to do a
pat-down the third flight of ewr from
Terminal A he was able to do a self
pat-down like usual he mostly goes
through the AIT machine and his turban
shows up on alarms nine times out of ten
and this is one of those demonstrations
of inconsistent application within just
one Airport in the last two months okay
thank you and mr. Nelson you mentioned
some possible
remedies for this and it could you
expand the nose a bit I know you talked
about perhaps some sort of a public
awareness campaign but what else would
you suggest we do to to ameliorate this
problem I'm really concerned as a
chairman knows what the use these
officers I think it's way too
non-scientific and unless you're
engaging a passenger for several minutes
and getting a feel for whether there's a
concern I don't think in 10 seconds you
can make a snap decision and I'll give
you an example I would sit for days
talking to people I think committed a
murder and for days I'd be absolutely
convinced that they were telling me the
truth and then after a while they broke
down and tell me they did do it so
you're not going to find out in 10
seconds whether someone is is a security
risk or not so well that is a proviso I
want to hear what you have to say some
suggestions sure so in addition to
improving the complaint process and also
ensuring that we are in fact meeting our
national security interest needs in a
way that is least burdensome on American
travelers we also recommend three other
measures one is that in addition to
anti-discrimination training for all TSA
personnel that the TSA quickly implement
as ranking member Rodgers suggested that
it immediately implement the jao's
recommendation which it has accepted to
monitor compliance with the specific
procedures intended to prohibit unlawful
profiling so not just general monitoring
but looking at the specific procedures
that are intended to deal with this very
issue that we're most concerned about in
addition we would add that in the
interest of transparency it should share
the results of that monitoring with the
the TSA also very commendably it was
reported that the TSA request did that
vendors last summer provide ideas to
improve screening of head wear and hair
in compliance with title six of the
Civil Rights Act that is an excellent
step in the right direction we urge the
TSA to maintain that demand of vendors
and to refuse to contract with vendors
using taxpayer funds that cannot ensure
that their technology is
non-discriminatory so those are just a
few additional ways in addition to
phasing out completely the use of
behavioral tech detection techniques
well you just give me a couple ideas for
new bills so thank you very much
back my times chat thank you very much
let me assure the gentleman from New
York we will follow up and get TSA here
I'm I'm wondering why they're not
following the congressional mandate ovo
beat'em i mean i don't know how they can
i I don't understand it either and
that's why I think we I would
respectfully suggest that we have some
follow-up on this and we if we need to
use subpoenas we need to use subpoenas
afternoon time should never be an excuse
for them not to be here thank you
she I recognized gentleman from New
Jersey mr. Payne Thank You mr. chairman
for having this hearing and the ranking
member as well and you know I think it's
kind of already been mentioned my my
line of questioning but you know to
reiterate the seriousness of the issue
3500 complaints in the scope of things
may not seem like a significant number
but 3,500 people that took the time to
lodge a complaint is probably just the
tip of the iceberg in terms of people
that are not complaining they're upset
too distraught they didn't like it but
they don't have the time to make the
complaint or don't know the procedure
and what to do next
and that is a serious problem so I'm
asking all the witnesses you suspect the
travelers underreport civil rights and
civil liberty complaints against TSA and
you think passengers were paying refrain
from reporting incidents due to fear of
being placed on a watch list that will
strict future travel sir
so in our recent report we really looked
at for those 3,700 complaints with civil
rights civil liberties issues you know
what was the process or one of the
things that you note is they don't all
really make it to the investigative
stage so almost a third of those dropped
out because there wasn't complete
information that the passenger was able
to provide to for TSA to pursue it
further so anything along those lines to
to make it more evident what you need to
file how you are responsive to a request
for more information to have a complete
complaint that can be investigated would
be helpful we believe that there are
numerous factors that contribute to
underreporting sometimes the traveling
public especially if they don't travel
frequently may not know their rights are
being violated or that the TSO is and
not adhering to policies and protocols
because those policies and protocols are
not always transparent or easy to
understand and I would refer the
committee members here to our exhibit B
and C to show the difference between T
essays guidance for sick air travel
passengers and the one that we developed
with the close consultation thank you
and I'll add that that we should
underscore that of the three hundred and
three thousand and six hundred and sixty
three complaints related to passenger
screening TSA s multicultural branch
found indications of potential
discrimination and unprofessional
conduct that involved race and other
factors in over a thousand complaints
that's a significant number and that's
buttress by the anecdotal accounts and
news reports by african-american women
who talk about invasive and humiliating
pat downs at airports its buttress by
the accounts of T SOS themselves who
talked about racial profiling being
pervasive at airports like Logan
National Airport Newark Liberty
International Airport Honolulu
International Airport it is something
that we know is far more prevalent than
the number of complaints suggests
because of the frail
in the complaint process and the very
nature of the issue itself where people
are under pressure to get where they
need to go and do not often circle back
I can confess to not complaining or
lodging a formal complaint to TSA when I
have personally been subjected to
similar pat downs yeah I do recall times
prior to me becoming a member
House of Representatives having issues
in airports and not necessarily filing a
complaint but finding myself being very
discouraged and frustrated and
embarrassed and bye-bye the pat downs
that TSA formerly did in their
procedures you know what other reasons
might result in under reporting of
complaints well I think with respect to
certain populations and I particularly
would like to lift up Muslim Americans
and on the last day of Ramadan today who
often are singled out and concerned that
by stepping up and speaking out that
they may be subjecting themselves to
additional scrutiny and potential danger
because of the stereotypes that surround
that community and many others in
addition transgender individuals are
often so deeply humiliated by the very
binary lens that the TSA scanners and
TSO s used to determine who is
appropriate to pass through security
that filing a complaint and airing those
issues only leads to further exposure
and potential humiliation so I think
those are deterrence and we need to find
a process that allows and for a greater
opportunity to air those issues thank
you and I apologize I yield back
thank you very much chair recognizes
gentleman from North Carolina for five
minutes mr. Walker Thank You mr.
miss Nelson I appreciate your
perspective on some of the things that
you have seen it's been educating for me
and I appreciate you sharing some of
specifically with hair and and some of
the things that the african-american
females were false signals and some of
that I'm going to look more into that
and check into that I didn't thought
about this and probably I guess maybe
1516 years mr. Singh
I remember my third grade son coming
home one day with a note that he and
some friends had made fun of another boy
in his class that wore a turban just
thought about that today
the next day in trying to teach him a
my son left for school wearing a turban
that day to try to get him to understand
what it feels like to be picked on or
discriminated against and I I do believe
that was haven't always gotten it right
but I think that day we were able to
send a viable lesson that that no
Americans and I know my colleagues on
this side of the aisle want to make sure
that any kind of discrimination is shut
down at the same time I want to make
sure that there are many wonderful
employees the TSA who take their job
very seriously into the best and I think
with about two million passengers each
day I think it comes down to less than
one one thousandth of 1% egde point of
some of these actionable claims still
too many we want to continue to work on
that but we want to make sure that we
stop that I do have a couple questions
mr. Russell as the director here how
does the multicultural branch review
whether a screener followed the protocol
in instances of alleged violations so
once they have enough information to
review the complaint typically they go
back to the airport involved and try to
pull the camera footage interview the
transportation security officers
involved and and try to recreate the
events and see if they could
substantiate any part of the allegation
and the complaint what can you tell me
what is there a consistent disciplinary
actions that are used if a screener does
not follow protocol right most often
that there's refresher training of
various sorts either to the employees at
the airport or it could be a nationwide
brief depending on what the issue may be
and it over the
of our review we also noted there were a
hundred instances where disciplinary
action was taken in response to some of
the passenger screening related
I know trends are very important in this
line of work what what ways does the TSA
track potential trends concerns that is
increases or decreases related to
allegations of unlawful profiling do you
have some kind of system in place that
you're able to monitor that so TSA does
review at a macro level the complaint
data to try to look for trends things
that are emerging and has various
mechanisms to report that both to the
leadership within TSA or to make the
airport officials the Federal Security
directors others aware of things that
they might be seeing in the data can you
unpack that a little bit more you said
they have ways to follow the trends can
you speak to that as far as specifically
what are being utilized as tracking the
changes to reduce profiling in the
future right so one of the examples that
we were able to look at how to do with
headgear and turbans and the way to
handle that situation at the checkpoint
when an anomaly is present based on the
AIT review religious wear if there are
particular religious artifacts that
groups may be traveling with how to
handle that situation so we saw sort of
trying to be somewhat proactive into
alerting airports to those situations
okay thank you director Russell thank
you panel are you back to the Chairman
thank you very much
see I recognized gentleman from
California mr. Correa for five minutes I
think it was the chair and ranking
member for holding this most important
hearing listened to testimony here and I
do wish TSA would have been here and I
hope that either this full community or
our Subcommittee on TSA does have a
hearing and invites the TSA officials
it's important to hear from them because
they do have an important job a very
important job if you look at you know
how many flights per day in this country
maybe 2000
or more two million passengers
how many airports around this country
and their job is to make sure that those
planes leave and land safely
now mask mr. Russell immigration law
enforcement TSA three separate functions
when it comes to immigration before you
walk into the CTSA inspection your
credentials are checked correct that's
right many places before you get on that
airplane you're checked again yes no
right to go through screening so TSA is
there really to screen for devices that
may cause harm to the passengers correct
right we're always working to make sure
that we attain a hundred percent in
terms of assuring that those negative
things don't get on our planes or get
into airports correct right that is the
goal so I got a finger TSA those workers
have a very stressful job and they know
zero tolerance is what's expected of
them so um what is the policy right now
TSA when it comes to screening for
immigration is that part of the job
that's not something that we looked at
in this review so I can look in that and
see if there's something specific in
their standard operating procedures I
can tell you that they and I asked you
this because several years ago we heard
reports that Latino passengers were
being targeted by the behavior detection
officers in Honolulu Boston and Newark
and some of these officers actually
called themselves mexic ution errs which
meant that they were really looking for
secondary screenings that were would
drug-related offenses outstanding
warrants and deportations is this part
of the TSA mission or goal do you know
if they're still doing this or is this
something incidental that's not
something that came up specifically in
our review but in terms of where
behavior detection is being used yet we
saw that they definitely need to improve
the oversight in terms of checking for
compliance with profiling so if if the
behavior detection was involved in the
incidents that you are referring to
certainly we think our recommendation
will help at least have an oversight
mechanism to specifically look for those
most of us that fly or familiar with the
process but a person who occasionally
flies travels so to speak you're going
to be nervous as you walk up to a lot of
those high-tech machines so you under
natural probably exhibit some kind of
nervousness it the detection behavior
folks would they would they look at this
as triggering a secondary inspection
that's what behavior detection is
intended to do is look for signs of fear
stress using a certain number of
indicators and if you see enough of them
then you refer the person to say how
many these would be false positives
false negatives well that that's where I
work has shown big concerns around the
usefulness of those indicators when we
looked at the how many of them had valid
support for use in an aviation
environment it was only a few out of the
36 that they currently employ so it's
not really significant in terms of their
job right performance effectiveness I'm
running out of time but Mike my further
thought is in terms of the reports of
abuse reports from citizens this is a
very diverse country a very multi-ethnic
country a lot of religions in and said
to me every time you go through one of
these situations if you feel that you've
discriminated against racially profiled
I think most passengers as you'd say you
know what let me the heck out of here
just want to get out of here and they
would not file a complaint so I'm hoping
somehow we get to a process where if a
procedure feels that there's something
wrong here I've been wrong that they can
immediately report a situation as
opposed to give me that slip of paper
I've got to go online I have to write
you a letter to to express my concerns
any thoughts on that that certainly it's
something we saw you know about a third
of the civil rights of all liberty
complaints that came in did not get
further reviewed because they were
missing some key piece of information
someone had to provide you and those are
the ones that are actually reported so
the rules that are in place to to
investigate a complaint further IDSA mr.
chairman I would just want to say we
need to follow up on this and make sure
that there's a robust complaint system
so that we get a good picture of what's
going on and I want to thank again our
TSA officers for the good job they've
done I just want to make sure that
they're focusing on the right job Thank
You mr. chair absolutely and I think
just about everyone who's come in
understand that TSA is missing in action
with this hearing and that they knew
well in advance of our intent to have it
and their interest to have them so we
will go forward and have them come and
answer some questions I'm really
concerned mr. Russell that you know we
spoke very clearly that there was not
enough science behind the behavioral
detective the program video program and
somehow in one hand they say okay we've
done away with it but from what you said
today they still use it
and a more limited way yes that's
correct well that's and that's what mr.
Catco was talking about too because
here's Beal mr. chair I suppose we need
to follow up and this want to make sure
if there is a validity to this this kind
of behavior testing use let's hear about
it if not let's move on to something
that makes
since absolutely chair recognized in
lady from Arizona let's go Thank You mr.
chair and thank all of you for coming
today and sharing your insight onto this
most important issue I have a couple
questions the first ones for mr. Russell
and from what I read theirs and what has
been testified there's a thousand
sixty-six complaints that TSA are
recommended additional training due to
potential discrimination and then we got
testimony from our other witnesses about
different aspects of possible
discrimination can do you have a
breakdown of how many people how many of
these complaints were because of turbans
or other head wear or hair so that I get
a better idea of the how many of these
this stuff happens
sure so of the going back to that larger
universe of the 3700 complaints that
dealt with someone rights or civil
liberty issue passenger screening
related complaints about 1500 of those
were related just to general
discrimination or profiling concerns 493
had to do with some aspect of pat downs
so when you're in the secondary
screening process 279 dealt with hair
issues around hair and just to name a
few others 200 dealt with religion and
then another 169 dealt with transgender
issues just to give you a yeah that's
helpful and and miss Nelson you had I
just want to understand this more you
had said that african-american women's
hair sometimes they can't detect the
difference between contraband and the
hair is that is that accurate and that's
after they go through the screening
through the x-rays or what would or the
wood is when does that happen
so the full-body scanner is not always
accurately detect or screen black
woman's hair it can be in an afro it can
be in breeds or twists or the locks that
I wear on my head and those scanners
cannot properly detect that it is hair
and not contraband so it signals to the
TSO s that there should be an additional
screening and that then
disproportionately affects black women
who have to go through a more invasive
hair pat-down whereas if someone had
straight hair or flattened hair it is
less likely to go off thank you thank
you my other I guess I'm just kind of
confused about this behavioral screening
the special specialized behavioral
detection training that mr. Catco
apparently I don't know if he got rid of
it or not but it from what I read it
said that it's integrated now into other
TSS officers and especially those that
have canines now the airport that I come
from the canines are usually at the
front of the line so how does a canine
officer that is using this specialized
behavioral detection I mean how do they
then say oh you need a special pat-down
this normally doesn't the pat-down they
take you after you get through you know
the luggage area and then the TSO
officer there you know puts you inside
and as you do it pat-down so help me
understand this I don't get it yes with
the passenger screening k-9 teams that
could be right around the Check Point
think about the you know in the queue
area depending on the circumstance and
then the behavior detection officers
would support the k-9 so as you're
engaging passengers you could ask them
questions and look for some of the
indicators if you see a certain number
then you would refer that person for
later to the secondary screening so they
walk them over to the screening area and
just hand him over to another TSA TSA
officers that what you're saying that's
okay all right yeah that's what I read
is that it they integrated these be
specialized behavioral detection people
into the the TSA s T SOS and they're
usually the ones that deal with canines
that's what I read anyway so I don't
know if that was specifically banned and
representative catco's bill or not we're
gonna have to find out so thank you very
much all of you I appreciate the insight
I think that the reason we got to the
bill is we couldn't find the science
behind being able to look at somebody
Intel that they are terrorists or
something like that
in a matter of seconds and because
nobody could come back and and and
clarify the issue we said it's not
working but again we'll have TSA to come
here and tell us why for whatever reason
the intent of Congress to do away with
this program has somehow resurfaced
somewhere else chair recognizes
gentlelady from Nevada mr. Dez for five
Thank You mr. chairman I represent Las
Vegas and so it de-stresses me to see
McCarran on this list of top airports
where you have complaints we welcome
visitors from all over the world and we
want their experience from the minute
they land or the minute they leave to
always be a good one so I hate to see us
here but I do think that this chart
really only tells us which airports are
the busiest it doesn't really give us
much more information than that and
there may be a smaller Airport where you
have a much higher percentage of
incidents than this one is too many but
you mention Honolulu for example that
you'd heard stories and that's I don't
see that on here so I think about better
chart would give us percentages or break
it down by I don't know what but this
this doesn't really give me too
information one thing I would ask all of
you to make me a dress we've heard you
need more technology you need better
training you also need more
accountability how about more diversity
among the TSO staff themselves if you
are coming through an airport and you
are a Sikh and there is a Sikh TSO
officer maybe you there would be some
more understanding did you look at the
TSO tsa staff to see if they are diverse
or there's any attempt to hire diversity
not just trained people but bring all
kinds of people into the profession
where they can then reflect some of
these concerns themselves so that wasn't
within the scope of what we looked at
for this review and then just one note
on the the airports so there were a
total of 240 that had at least one
complaint related to civil rights and
civil liberties well we just listed at
the top 10 but go back to the fact that
even if it's not part of the scope do
you think that would be a good thing
that you look into that with divert more
diversity of hiring or just at least
have some idea of who works on the other
side yeah I'd feel uncomfortable to
answer for TSA on that but you know it's
certainly a diverse and inclusive
workforce is always a good thing okay
you're saying we know of some sick TSO s
in the field however without the
appropriate input at the leadership
level and at the policy-making level the
TSO s no matter how diverse are still
going to be implementing problematic
procedures and protocols that are not
clear and would still unfortunately
leave people feeling violated against
their own people it may be at best mmm
or just a more diverse face mmm I
understand about the technology but I
was hoping maybe there'd be some
personal connection but I see your point
I think a diverse and inclusive
workforce as always a good thing and
it's something that we should look for
in TSA and elsewhere however we have
found that even African American TSO s
will implement a policy that is
discriminatory it also doesn't account
for the technology that
itself perpetuates racial profiling and
racial bias so that can't be solved by
just diversifying the workforce although
I do think that's an important step but
it will does not fully solve the issue
anecdotally you know there's been some
commentary that perhaps people who
understand your hair or understand your
religious garb better will not engage in
as invasive or as humiliating a search
but it doesn't eliminate that
disproportionate impact of technology
and of these practices and policies
thank you I know in the report you also
talked to some members of TSA and some
managers did you reach out to their
union ask me and have any conversations
with them do you think that would be a
good idea do you think that could be a
vehicle for trying to maybe bring about
some of these changes that y'all have
suggested that we so desperately need
we looked really at the the coordination
that part of TSA civil rights of all
liberties branch has with community
groups and did note that they have a
relationship with I believe the see
coalition and others to have a dialogue
on these issues that that's as far as we
want is just to report some of that
information mr. mermaid Mufi bring TSA
and we could also bring in their union
to see how they might be helpful than
implementing some of these changes
absolutely we look forward to having
both thank you you know yield back thank
you chair recognizes the gentleman from
Texas mr. Taylor Thank You mr. shermin
appreciate this hearing I think this is
an important topic just wanted to and
I'm a new member of Congress so I'm
trying to figure out can you give me
like a mr. Russell you made a trend of
what's transpired here so it's been a
TSA he's been around for 18 years since
9/11 I mean what you know it's in their
policy they're not supposed to do
profiling is that always been in there
is that does that change at some point
and then give me some kind of context
but the number of complaints about
racial profile is that does that gone up
gone down I mean because I think you
give us a snapshot in time which is
helpful to know where we are but where
have we been
yeah a couple of points on that so some
prohibition against profiling I think
it's been around for a long time
specifically in 2013 though that DHS
secretary sent a memo to TSA to really
take a second look at that to make sure
that they had specific policies in place
around profiling and then where feasible
to try to collect some information to
make sure that wasn't happening so it
got reinforced there in terms of the
complaint data itself you know for our
review we looked at the 3,700 that are
just civil rights civil liberties
related complaints but just to give you
some context I think in 2017 TSA
received a total of about a hundred
thousand complaints in one form or
fashion so 3,700 would be a subset and
that's over you know a little bit more
extended period of time
that's helpful sue but what was that ten
years ago I mean what trend line are we
on or do you do know I'm not trying to
put you on the spot no I I don't have
extended data just for civil rights
civil liberties complaints but I think
typically there are half a million to
six hundred thousand comments that come
in in a year based on the TSA data we've
seen and then typically it's around a
hundred thousand that are complaints
it didn't something that's important to
me is mothers who are breastfeeding and
trying to take milk through TSA and that
is something that's come up in by in my
town halls mothers have said hey I up I
show the piece of paper at TSA this is
how it supposed to be screened and they
do it their own way anyway they take the
piece of paper and throw it away it's
pretty upsetting to me because I mean
you want to look out from oh that's a
piece of legislation I'm working on with
committee staff and so so yeah it's
important to me but just going back to
that kind of idea of showing up and
saying hey this is your policy they're
saying have you had a chance to review
TSA policy and how I'm not asleep
there's something in our briefing about
sheep allister's but it's not very
helpful to me anyway but have you
reviewed their policy is there specific
is there written documentation somewhere
that people can point to and say this is
how you're supposed to you know go back
to it sell
especially for a turban which seems to
be the key key question here is there
something written is reserved written
policy on that or is this just
catch-as-catch-can depending on what
terminal you show up at Newark so it's
they have developed a know before you go
document however it is not accessible on
the TSA s website so I don't quite know
how they're distributing and
disseminating other than working with
community organizations like the Sikh
coalition and others which is kind of
frustrating because we don't have access
to every Sikh in America and so the
guidance is not clear their website TSA
website doesn't really have any clear
policies and procedures of what a
religious headwear traveler can expect
and therefore when they go to present
themselves for screening they're left
wondering what does this process and
procedure look like and really the onus
is on organizations like us and our
travelers to know what to generally
expect and there's a lot of deviation
and variations as what what people can
expect it is not exactly clear and when
we try to get clarity from TSA we are
always told that they can't provide any
clarity on guidance in terms of
pat-downs the procedures and process if
you're allowed to do a self pat-down or
if the TSL will do it because of SSI
well it certainly seems reasonable to
have clearly written expectations and
that you know helps the workforce the
people that are actually on the ground
doing it to actually do whatever it is
we want them to do rather than leaving
them out to not know what they're
supposed to do and then the traveler
doesn't know what to do either
mr. Ellison do you have any comment on
that a nun reviewing is there anything
you've read as you review T essays
policies that you're concerned about it
seems to me they've what should be
written is correct but there's just not
enough specificity yeah I talked about
the deficiencies in the complaint
process but I I also think that
transparency in what these guidelines
and protocols are is key they could be
posted in airports so that every airline
passenger knows his or her rights when
traveling and knows what can and cannot
happen in a security interaction there
are many ways in which we can create
much more transparency and
accountability in this process but right
now it is it is cloaked in secrecy the
Legal Defense Fund has a FOIA request
to get some of this information but it's
far from transparent okay
Thank You mr. chairman I just want to
concur with Mike my colleague from New
York mr. Catco I mean it's really
imperative tsa come to a hearing like
this and whatever we need to do to make
them show up on for that yeah and and I
I agree that it's it's the written
guidance it's the training that goes
with it and I was just talking with the
ranking member you know we have
congressional IDs and every now and then
if you present it at certain airports
they'll actually if you have driver's
license so that's and that Pichet ID is
in the manual but it's the training that
goes with the written guidance that's so
important that could probably alleviate
a number of problems we were talking
about here we will gentleman from Texas
miss Greene for five minutes
Thank You mr. chairman thank the ranking
member and the witnesses for appearing
today and that mr. chairman if I may say
so I concur with what you said about the
congressional ID I happen to have had
that experience and in the interest of
full disclosure I'd like to announce
that I was a branch president of the
NAACP in Houston Texas for approximately
ten years now further disclosure would
require that I indicate that the Legal
Defense Fund and the NAACP as we know it
they are separate entities but they have
a special kinship and a special
relationship and miss Nelson I'm honored
that you're here today to speak on
behalf of not only an organization but
on behalf of millions of people because
you make a difference in their lives
and I appreciate you thank you I'm
concerned about the deployment of the
technology was there some exigency that
required deployment without the
necessity to have proper field testing
it was allowed to become a part of the
traveling public experience and maybe
this was the test
mr. Russell was this the test or that we
tested before deploying so back in 2014
we actually took a look at some of the
initial AIT deployments in particular
the body scanners and one of the things
that excuse me I'll have to interrupt
I'm not sure I understand what took a
look at means oh we did if you are
actually doing a field testing did you
actually have live bodies have an
experience with the technology before
deploying it
we looked at what TSA was doing
specifically to to test the technologies
and and did they test this on live
bodies at airports one of the things
that we found is that there were I'm not
sure I understand that answer did they
test it at airports on live bodies I
don't I don't know for sure if they did
that well how did we deploy the
technology that is defective
there must be protocols that we have to
adhere to that would prevent this sort
of circumstance from manifesting itself
how do we get here one of the things
from that 2014 review was it was noted
that the technology itself had a higher
incidence of false alarms when it came
to transgender wigs hair type issues and
body mass and that was this is after
deployment is this correct after it's
being used in airports that's right
how did we get to this point does
anybody have some indication as to what
was required what was the protocol that
was adhered to to allow it to be
deployed anyone has have we have we
bothered to in your various capacities
have you have you made an inquiry as to
what happened because I'm just amazed
that we deploy this technology
there had to be an exigency or some
circumstance that would require
deployment without testing it properly I
don't want anyone to be singled out
unnecessarily this in this country we we
value our privacy and we value our
ability to associate freely and move
about without impediments so how can we
find out what happened and someone give
me some indication please I think that's
an excellent question and there does
need to be some historical discovery as
to how this technology was acquired and
implemented in in in in in view of the
discriminatory impact that it is now
shown to have but I also think this is
an important moment to flag that before
any additional technology is used by TSA
and we have grave concerns about the
potential use of facial recognition
technology which is already being used
in some airports across the country that
we do we do not repeat the same mistake
that we make sure that we account for
the potential discriminatory impact of
that technology before we spend millions
of dollars implementing and deploying it
and at the expense of various American
travelers particularly people of color
thank you do you all agree that there
should be some deployment protocols that
we can access to ascertain what the
standard is that's being utilized before
deployment do we all agree anyone differ
absolutely I will try to as best as I
can help us achieve this level of
perfection and I thank you for your
testimony I yield back
thank you chair recognizes gentlelady
from Florida Miss Dimon's thank you so
much mr. chairman to a ranking member
and to our witnesses for joining us
today this is a very important hearing
and I'm glad to see us having it if we
could just go back to mr. Russell the
questions for you but miss Nelson you
talked about
the need for transparency for example
airports TSA could post information in
the various airports notifying the
traveling public regarding complaints
mr. Russell if you could please tell me
what steps does the TSA take to ensure
that passengers are even aware of the
complaint process and I think mr. Korea
from California talked a little bit
about this that many times
passengers are just trying to get
through the airport they may have been
their rights may have been violated at
the time but by the time they get
through in her home they've just said
let it go what what steps do you take to
make sure the traveling public knows
that if they feel that laws have been
violated as pertains to their civil
liberties that this is the way that they
can make a complaint the the main
mechanisms that we saw was that there's
a portal TSA website where you can file
information there are comment cards that
can be utilized at the airports and then
airports have what are called customer
service representatives that can assist
passengers with that process but as a
traveler you would have to you know have
the time to engage with a customer
service representative to do something
at the airport so for the most part
there's that 180 day window after the
incident occurs where you can phone it
in or you can file it via the website
and they would have to go to the Werth
website to correct that information
throughout that okay all right how does
the TSA use complaint data and trend
analysis to change its policies
regarding complaints so the
multicultural branch does analysis of
the complaints that come in with respect
to civil rights and civil liberties
issues and they can use that to work
with the more operational part of TSA
the security operations that's that's
really responsible for the checkpoint to
inform updates to the standard operating
procedures or to
send information to particular airports
where there's been a spike in a certain
number of incidents or types of
complaints so if a recommendation is
made regarding you know violation occurs
and a recommendation is made regarding
additional training right I'm sure it
has been could you talk a little bit
about what kind of training has been
recommended to TSA that has actually
been implemented right it could go to
the individual screener involved in a
complaint incident and they might need
refresher training depending on what the
issue was it could be something that's a
national shift brief that's what they
call it where it's information that's
provided to all screeners across the 440
airports on a particular issue headgear
is one that's that's happened in the
past and then sometimes it can be just a
heads up awareness hey we're seeing a
particular issue in the complaint data
here's some information around it like
religious clothing was one that we saw
so if that occurs that aperture that
recommendation is made at a particular
airport is that information share with
all airports it depends on the situation
so it can be shared with all airports
sometimes it's dedicated to the
particular airport that where the
incident occurred and so back to the
question about they're about ten
airports that account for like a third
of the complaints and my colleague from
Nevada asked the question about is this
just based on passenger volume or would
you say these particular airports
there's a lack of train there's a
training deficiency or some other bias
that may exist what is it just passenger
volume or more than just pure data when
you looked at that 3700 complaints where
did they happen to occur and that list
was the the top 10 but a real an
accurate account of where problems exist
specifically if you're not looking at
percentage of passenger volume and just
looking at passenger volume right so but
that's what we had in our report is just
that data my our understanding is TSA
does look for those types of trends but
that's all I can say I mean
ese would have to answer more on that
and do they generate a report of their
their conclusions or the results of
those so what we a number of the
training materials that they develop
based on the complaints and then we were
able to see some of the complaint trends
that they monitored so for example there
could be a range of complaints related
to handling a baggage or pre-check as
well as civil rights and civil liberty
type complaints okay
Thank You mr. chairman I yield back
thank you very much chair recognizes
gentlelady from New York mr. Clark for
five minutes I thank you very much mr.
chairman I think our ranking member for
today's hearing I think our expert
witnesses for bringing your testimony
today and please excuse the in and out
we have conflicting hearings but wanted
to make sure that I had a conversation
with this panel the TSA screens over two
million passengers every day and these
passengers are as diverse as America
itself TSA must have policies in place
that prevent profiling ensure each and
every passenger is judged solely on
their security profile and never based
on their race or religion TSA screenings
must rely on science not prejudice not
bias and not baked algorithms programmed
by individuals who Harbor either
implicit or explicit bias so having said
that I my first question is from miss
if screening machines alarm
disproportionately on black women it
would follow that black women are also
subjected to a disproportionate number
of invasive pat-downs
how does TSA pat down effect process
affect African American passengers given
the context and history of policing and
of African Americans thank you for that
the disproportionate number of pat-downs
secondary screening processes reinforces
the stereotype that african-americans
and african-american women in particular
are connected with being suspicious
individuals or potentially dangerous it
is a public viewing of that selective
process and many accounts by
african-american women describe being
deeply humiliated being delayed in their
travel there's an additional burden and
cost to them personally and
professionally often in traveling and
being subjected to these processes and
procedures and again I underscore that
we have yet to receive any indication
that this is in fact improving our
national security
upon that answered according to the
Department of Justice Statistics African
American girls and women 12 and older
experienced higher rates of rape sexual
assault than white asian Latina girls
and women from 1999 to 2010 how might a
survivor of sexual assault react to
being pat down it can be an
extraordinarily traumatic experience for
anyone who has been a victim of sexual
assault or who has the fear of
potentially being a victim of sexual
assault we know from our own studies
that african-american girls are often
in ways that bring unwarranted scrutiny
and criticism and invasive practices to
them as they travel and as they just go
about their daily lives screening
machines along frequently due to thick
hair and hair styles popular among
African American women and girls making
African American women more prone to
invasive pat downs TSA has been trying
to be responsive to concerns by African
American women about the pat-down
process but the problem won't fully
won't be fully solved until TSA feels
better technology in the meantime what
recommendations do you have for the TSA
for improving the pat-down process for
black hair well first the TSA should
replace the current technology with
technology that
and accurately screen black hair it is
unacceptable to have technology funded
by taxpayer dollars that cannot
recognize and discern the hair of the
people in its population so first and
foremost it needs to remove and revise
its technology in terms of the ongoing
there are ways in which they can be done
less invasively for example there can be
self pat-downs there can be ways in
which african-american travelers are
able to have more agency in the process
so there are some near-term improvements
but our longer-term recommendation is
that we scrap the technology that that
perpetuates racial profiling very well
I'm sorry mr. Singh many religious
minorities including Muslim Americans
and Sikh Americans feel they are
targeted for random screenings by the
TSA the program is supposed to generate
to operate without regard to ethnicity
color gender identity religion natural
national origin sexual orientation or
disability but how do we ensure that TSA
is living up to this promise do you have
concerns about GSA's use of behavioral
tection we're extremely concerned about
the use of behavioral detection is
technically a junk science and you know
there's no scientific evidence to
support that it's effective neither has
TSA shown any metrics that validate that
it is a useful deterrence mechanism and
also we believe that there needs to be
sensible limitations on TSO discretion
it is far-fetched and unfettered in
terms of any other law-enforcement
official they typically have to
articulate some kind of standard or
basis that warrants the suspicion for a
secondary search ts ELLs are not subject
to such discretion and that is
problematic as a result there is many
instances of TSO s using their wide
discretion for pretextual basis --is -
secondarily screen six Muslims and
african-americans and transgender
individuals thank you very much mr.
chairman I think our panelists once
again I yield back
thank you chair recognizes the gentleman
from Missouri mr. cleaver for five
the English chairman mr. Russell is
there some kind of process that TSA uses
was when they see a name a name that is
a suspicious name is there anything in
your policies that would direct
attention to people based on their name
if there were it would be through the
secure flight process which happens for
every traveller where you would match
the name against different watchlist to
determine if someone would need
secondary screening based on that
process well I was elected to the house
and in 2004 and I could barely make it
to Washington each week and but for a
American airline Washington bureau chief
I'm not sure I would have even wanted to
stay I was I was stopped every weekend
harassed because of my last name because
I have relatives who rather famous with
that last name and I'm not one of the
famous cleavers but there are relatives
with that name and I mean it was an
awful experience that I went through
every single week I mean they take me in
the back room and you have to undress
let's go through your hair let's tickle
you I mean what just about anything and
I was developing a resentment that I'm
I've gotten over and I ran into this
American Airline person at an event here
in Washington about three weeks ago and
she's just kind of jokingly in front of
some other folks who said are you still
having problems so I'm still not
comfortable but I heard what I've done
is I have TSA I go through clear
everything trying
to reduce the fact that somebody sees
the name cleaver
and all of a sudden a member the Black
Panthers and I'm harassed I'm not I
haven't gone through that recently but I
don't want anybody else to go through it
what guarantee I mean I mean my name
didn't match I mean my name is Emanuel
my cousin's name is Eldridge
they don't spit on spell like can you
help me yeah there are four children
right no from a GAO perspective I mean
we've taken a look at some of the secure
flight programs over the years they're
supposed to be a process to go through
redress for these types of situations
that Department of Homeland Security
manages well I made this because
Homeland Security was only a couple of
years old at the time and ladies it's
better let me let me ask another
question my concern is you know you said
we have information about the complaints
are the complaints this is miss Nelson
or mr. sands are the complaints only at
the airports that are involved with TSA
I live in Kansas City Missouri our
Airport is privately contracted it's not
a part of the federal contract with with
TSA so are their records being kept
there as well I'm not aware of non
federalized complaints typically they
tend to be for TSA specifically and I
don't know if TSA subcontracts and you
know those cities Kansas City and San
Francisco we can go back and take a look
I would really really appreciate it
because with the passing of each week I
become more and more inclined to try to
begin a movement to
force the the Kansas City system enter
the federal program and I'm trying to
collect data and that's one of the
things that that's that has my attention
thank you very much you can get that to
my office or somebody can can somebody
get that information to me please well
do what we can to supplement or record
yes thank you thank you I yield back the
balance of my time
thank you very much I think the
witnesses for their valuable testimony
and and members for their questions
I actually anonymous consent to enter
into the record a report from the
National Center for transition
transgender equity without objections
the members of the committee may have
additional questions for the witnesses
and we ask that you respond
expeditiously in writing to those
questions without objections the
committee record shall be kept open for
10 days hearing no further witness
business the committee stands adjourned
saizai is offline  
Old Jun 4, 19, 4:47 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 963
Also released today by GAO:

TSA Has Policies that Prohibit Unlawful Profiling But Should Improve Its Oversight of Behavior Detection Activities, GAO-19-268

GAO-19-490T (testimony)
saizai is offline  
Old Jun 6, 19, 4:47 pm
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 22,627
I thought funding for TSA BDO programs had been cutoff by Congress. Is TSA funneling funds from other budget areas to maintain BDO activities?

Big question, aren't BDO activities the very definition of profiling?
Boggie Dog is online now  
Old Jun 6, 19, 5:46 pm
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Programs: Southwest Rapid Rewards. Tha... that's about it.
Posts: 4,168
Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
I thought funding for TSA BDO programs had been cutoff by Congress. Is TSA funneling funds from other budget areas to maintain BDO activities?

Big question, aren't BDO activities the very definition of profiling?
Not really.

The word profiling, in the modern parlance, is short for "racial profiling", which is just a fancy name for race-based discrimination.

The BDO program doesn't take race into account. It's based entirely on the pseudo-science of observable behaviors indicating intent. We've all seen the list of 'suspicious' behaviors they use, which is almost entirely made up of totally innocuous, non-suspicious behaviors. It's complete crap, but it's not really profiling.

Of course, BDOs might still allow their personal prejudices influence their selection of 'suspicious,' just as any TSO might when selecting who gets random pat-downs or bag checks. That's profiling, but it's not part of the BDO program.
WillCAD is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread