I started this blog with three primary messages to bring to the public. The Big 3 were often lost in the noise of the various controversies and viral events that came from this site. But to recap, here they are:
1. The full-body backscatter radiation scanners used to view nude images of passengers in private rooms were useless– a complete waste of taxpayer money. The TSA was lying to the public about the efficacy of those scanners; all of us TSA screeners on the floor were aware of their flaws. They were a blatant and unwarranted infringement upon people’s privacy. Within a few weeks of this site first gaining media attention, the TSA canceled its contract with Rapiscan, and officially began phasing out the full-body backscatter radiation scanners. Coincidence? Maybe. As I’ve said before, I leave that up to the reader to decide.
2. There are bad TSA screeners out there, as the public so often gets word of, but there are also good TSA screeners out there. Those on the inside of the TSA– those workers who are actually out on the checkpoint floor day in and day out– know that the central problem is that the TSA’s work culture and structure is one that encourages bad screeners to cling to the job, and makes good screeners want to quit as soon as possible. The TSA’s annual recertification system is a large part of the problem.
3. The TSA’s SPOT program, also known as the Behavior Detection Program, is another sham.
Number 1 has been addressed by the TSA in many ways, as they were caught with their pants down in regard to the radiation scanners. Number 2 is an issue that the public still hasn’t taken notice of, and probably never will, since it’s not the kind of issue that’s conducive to splashy headlines. And now, at long last, number 3 is grabbing headlines, with the ACLU’s lawsuit against the TSA in regard to its SPOT program, and the release of documents detailing some of the absurd, headline-friendly details of that program. In the media and government game, the key to getting important information to the public is a headline-worthy aspect to the story. It is an unfortunate reality, but reality nonetheless.
So I’ll say it again, for about the sixth time since this blog’s publication: many of us have been trying to tell the public for years that the TSA’s Behavior Detection Program is useless and unnecessarily compromises people’s rights. Now it seems the broader population may have finally taken notice. I encourage you to read this article I wrote about it, almost two years ago, if you haven’t already.