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July 21, 2017

Report: TSA Unable to Scientifically Validate Behavior Detection Program

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement on a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the potential scientific validation of the Transportation Security Administration’s behavior detection program. 

In the report requested by Ranking Member Thompson and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Transportation and Protective Security Subcommittee, GAO found:

  • TSA does not have valid scientific evidence to support 28 of the 36 behavioral indicators it uses.
  • Of the 178 sources TSA provided, only 3 provided sufficient scientific evidence. 
  • 98 percent of sources TSA provided were not applicable: 77 percent were simply news articles, opinion pieces or websites, while others did not meet generally accepted research standards or were not original analysis. 

“After pressing TSA for years to provide scientific justification for its billion dollar behavior detection program, it is ridiculous that TSA provided little more than news articles and opinion pieces.  Similarly, the program is almost a decade old and TSA has still not demonstrated its effectiveness.  The thousands of TSA personnel working in this program could be put to better use focusing solely on proven screening activities.  It is clear, yet again, that Congress should cut funding for this troubled program, which is known more for racial and ethnic profiling than detecting terrorist activity."

Link to Report

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Media contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978