One may recall the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Requires to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act” of 2001, short title: USA Patriot Act. George W. Bush signed the bill into law on 26 October 2001; Barack Obama extended it for another four years effective on 26 May 2011. I suppose it is only fair to presume that the motivation of these men was a genuine concern for the health, welfare, and safety of the American people.
The only problem is, there is nothing patriotic about the USA Patriot Act. It set into motion unparalleled domestic monitoring, heralded as security America, and it expanded surveillance procedures so that now every American’s electronic mail or cell-phone conversations are being recorded and stored by the National Security Agency. Perhaps even worse than this, our country has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars in an effort to ensure that Ahab the Camel Broker does not fly a plane into the White House. So rather than protecting Americans, the USA Patriot Act may instead be protecting the first family —and what do they care about our constitutional rights?
According to an article I recently read at CNS , the Transportation Safety Administration squandered $900 million training detection officers—individuals intending to detect high-risk passengers through their unusual or unseemly behavior. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) informs us that so far, detection officers have detected exactly no terrorists. That is to say, zero, nada, none, and zip. From this, we have to assume that either the program is working like gangbusters (e.g., the detection officers have scared the bejeebers from of Ahab, Incorporated … or it was an utter waste of taxpayer money. I am thinking the latter rather than the former.
The TSA began assessing passengers as part of their Screening of Passengers by Observation Technique  (SPOT) Program. This is where highly trained law enforcement officers sit around looking like cutouts of Mortimer Snerd. With a wink and a nod, they signal to officers with guns that this or that passenger needs a dose of pat-down love —such as a 89-year-old retired Nun or a six year old female child who has yet to experience anyone touching her private parts. After the wink and nod, the detection officers place bets with one another about how the Nun or custodial adult will react to all this.
According to the GAO, there were over 61,000 “Spot Reports” at 49 airports between 2011 and 2012. That is to say, 61,000 passengers became hyperactive when being leered at by a Mortimer Snerd cutout. Of those 61,000 nervous passengers, 8.7% earned referrals because they were leering at the Snerds (e.g., telepathically communicating threats of violence, such as “If you lay a hand on my little girl, I will beat your ass into a batch of peanut butter.”) and of those, there were 365 arrests. None of the arrests had anything at all to do with terror. The GAO report identified six reasons for arrest: (1) Making phony passports at home, (2) Illegal Alien status, (3) Outstanding Warrants, (4) Suspicion of drugs, (5) Undeclared currency, and (6) Something else.
Asked to comment on these rather lackluster statistics in the face of massive expenditures, the individual supervising analysis of the DHS and TSA at GAO (Steve Lord) sought to clarify this for CNS News: “TSA cannot demonstrate the effectiveness of its behavior detection activities, and available evidence does not support whether behavioral indicators can be used to identify threats to aviation security.”
Anyway, the GAO report concluded by recommending that TSA limit future funding for the Snerds, by DHS said, “No way. We know a good thing when we see it.”