Ron Paul's Push to Privatize Airport Security

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>If it is brown people blowing up planes wouldn't you check them first?

Because terrorists aren't stupid, unfortunately. If they know brown people got searched and yellow people mostly didn't, then they'd find someone yellow. Men get searched? They'll use women.

>Profiling is an elimination of people that are not causing the problem giving more time
>to check a greater number of those that may be cuasing a problem.

Yes, competent profiling DOES work. I was profiled the last time I flew out of Boston. Here's how it works:

TSA agent: "Hey, how's it going?"
Me:"Pretty good."
TSA: "So have a good weekend?"
Me: "Yeah. I had a meeting today so I came out on Saturday to see some friends."
TSA: "Cool, where was the meeting?"
Me: "Waltham."
TSA: "What was the weather like up there?"
Me: "Well, basically the same as here. Cloudy, a little rain."
TSA: "You rent a car?"
Me: "No. I ended up getting a ride with a co-worker."
TSA: "Well, have a good flight!"

During that short conversation he verified that I could communicate without being nervous, that I probably really was in Waltham, that I had been there for a few days, and that I had a reasonable reason for being there. THAT is how you do profiling.

Racial profiling doesn't work. It does play to people's prejudices (i.e. "brown people are terrorists") and laziness (i.e. "I don't really want to be bothered checking many people") which is why it plays well here.

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What he said.

Oh, I mean "+1"

To make this post slightly less useless: I don't have a problem with race being a criterion, I have a problem with race being the only criterion. I'd prefer my security be effective, not be focused on making people feel racially superior.

- Dan G

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During that short conversation he verified that I could communicate without being nervous, that I probably really was in Waltham, that I had been there for a few days, and that I had a reasonable reason for being there. THAT is how you do profiling.

I think you're giving the TSA way too much credit on their skills, TBH.
You stop breathing for a few minutes and everyone jumps to conclusions.

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A couple weeks ago I was a false positive for some profile at Ben Gurion on my way out of Israel. Any confidence I had in the implementation and execution (as opposed to notional or perfect use) of profiling has been pretty much shot. All it takes is n=1 to disprove a hypothesis.

While one never knows for certain, the best speculation was that my interrogation was due to two attributes: (1) single woman traveling alone, who (2) travels a lot. The security officer who identified me for additional questioning was very interested in my passport, particularly the visa from Turkey (May 2010) and visa & stamps from Cambodia (Oct/Sept 2009).

After getting my boarding pass (and after the first screening), most folks go through a screening like a US airports … but I got directed off to the right. There were two Delta flights (to ATL and JFK) and an Uzbeki airlines (?) flight to Tashkent departing from the same terminal. The line for additional questioning was basically Uzbeki, Uzbeki, Uzbeki, white girl, Uzbeki, Uzbeki, white girl, Uzbeki, Uzbeki, Uzbeki, white girl, etc. All three of the white girls were traveling along and appeared to me in mid-20s to mid-40s.

During my interrogation, I was asked multiple times what my mother’s name was and what my father’s name was. (Got it right every time without hesitation.) I was asked multiple times in multiple ways if I had accepted any gifts from men. (No, not even from any of the very nice ones.) I was asked where I had been, who I had seen, and what I had done in Israel. (They got a pretty detailed itinerary, altho’ when I asked if they wanted to see the business cards of any of the folks with whom I met, they declined politely.) After about 45 minutes of this, apparently they decided I wasn’t a threat.

They never actually searched my suitcase. If the concern was I had accepted a package (bomb or whatever) from someone … because all single female travelers from the US are so nice & naïve that we’ll accept gifts from strange men … search my luggage. It did go through 2 different scanners. One appeared to be standard X-ray and another was not.

If the concern was my international travel, ask me what I do. They never did. Or call up one of the very nice guys from the IDF or MFA or MOST or MOITL with whom I met.

I will say that everyone was very polite.

Another American woman who I met in Tel Aviv and who departed about a week before me recounted a similar false positive profiling. In 1971, four women from Europe were duped into carrying bombs packaged as gifts onto a plane by Palestinian “boyfriends;” that’s the origin of that profile … except neither of us were European. And neither of us had bombs, i.e., neither of us were actual threats.

A former colleague, whose previous job includes Assistant Director for Chemical and Biological Countermeasures at the White House Office (i.e., cleared up the wazoo) and who left the day before me, encountered an interrogation he described as searching everything but his colon. :o Mine wasn’t that bad. He’s white in 40’s, and his last name is Jewish-sounding. But it’s n=3 for false positives on the profiling.

I had no problem on the way into Israel – was met by a representative of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which made everything so easy.

So that's my experience with the ineffectiveness of Ben Gurion's profiling. It's a different variety of security theater, imo.

There’s also a numbers (logistics) game: Ben Gurion handles ~11.5M passengers a year. ATL alone handles about 88M passengers a year. In the US overall, there are over 600M passengers a year. My estimate (& that’s all it is) was that there were on the order of 3-5 times more security agents (& those were just the ones in uniform) at Ben Gurion than one encounters at a US airport. To implement Ben Gurion-style profiling, the US would need to hire a whole lot more TSA agents, and that would cost more. If one’s argument against screening/TSA is about giving up freedoms, that one was the most intrusive into my freedoms … except when I got felt-up flying domestically inside Nepal. :$

Also got to observe parts of the “Turning Point 5” drills. At least in Jerusalem, the response was similar to what I expect it would be in much of the US: everyone basically ignored the sirens (like a car alarm).


Act as if everything you do matters, while laughing at yourself for thinking anything you do matters.
Tibetan Buddhist saying

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>All it takes is n=1 to disprove a hypothesis.

Agreed. If your hypothesis is "there are never false positives in profiling systems" then I agree - you have disproved it. However, if your hypothesis is "profiling systems are ineffective" then I disagree; indeed, false positives are pretty much a given in any effective security system.

I had a similar experience flying out of Amsterdam on El Al. It took about an hour, and we were so exhausted that we couldn't remember the answers to half the questions we were asked:

"Where did you stay last night?"
"A campsite just outside of Amsterdam, on the south side."
"What was the name of the campsite?"
"Don't remember."
"How far was it from Amsterdam?"
"About two hours."
"How far in kilometers?"
"Sorry, don't remember."

They searched all our luggage, kept us waiting for a while and finally let us on. In retrospect, based on what we looked like and our unlikely stories, I'd have searched us, too.

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I say again that people need to climb down off their high horse and contribute to something that while mildly inconvenient, and far from perfect is in its most basic form intended to help us. Its not the perfect solution but its better than nothing.

Is it?

Every red test involving putting guns in carry on luggage has proven that the TSA theater is better at groping genitals than finding actual threats.

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I'm sorry you had a bad experience in Ben Gurion but I wouldn't call that a false positive.
A false positive would mean you wouldn't have been allowed to proceed and board your flight.

Security there is often a hassle and it's very annoying for us Israelis when our friends are being detained and questioned.

You said all the needed to do is search your bags instead of asking the same questions over and over but thats not the point. Carrying explosives is a concern but it's ot the only one. Profiling in Ben Gurion is mostly behavioral (not saying nationality is not an issue too) and thats why they ask you all these (stupid) questions. If you know your story straight and don't get nervous it's sometimes more important than what you have in your bag.

Again, I'm sorry you had a bad experience and I hope you'll come again, keeping in mind that it is a necessary evil.
"Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero."

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I wonder if there might be a bit of political theater going on with the security people there Ori. Given the work Marg has done I just wonder if there might just be a little message being sent to this administration.

Things that make you go... hmmmmmm

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