The Government Accountability Office (there’s an oxymoron of a name if one ever existed) has finally announced what most of us have known since 2001. All of the money being spent to fund the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program has been wasted:
The federal government may have wasted $1 billion on a TSA program called “SPOT” that profiles people who may be “bad guys” at airports by talking to them, the Government Accountability Office reported Wednesday. There is no evidence that it works, it said.
The Transportation Security Administration’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program relies on training personnel to recognize indicators like fear, stress or deceptive behavior that can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security. Those who exhibit those indicators are subjected to additional security screening.
Polygraphs, better known as lie detectors, are an instrument that fail to perform the act they claim to excel at. This is because there are no known human responses to lying. SPOT was doomed to fail for the same reason. There’s no consistent way to detect through observation, that science is currently aware of, a person who is either being dishonest or planning something violent.