The failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. airliner has triggered a new wave of scrutiny of the U.S. government’s approach to aviation security, says National Public Radio. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has tried to augment its screening procedures by ramping up an effort to train more of its personnel to detect suspicious behavior by passengers.
“Over the past couple of years, TSA has developed a behavior detection capability that is really not profiling – in fact, it’s rooted in some of the surveillance of U.S. retail operations,” says Tom Blank, a former TSA official. He notes that retailers have developed sophisticated procedures to identify potential shoplifters based on their actions and their mannerisms. The TSA drew on that research to train a corps of what it calls behavioral detection officers to look for signs of anxiety, such as increased sweating or heavy breathing. “It doesn’t have anything to do with religious belief, gender or ethnicity,” says Blank.