Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 3:02 pm | Fair 61º

 
 
 
 

Michelle Malkin: TSA Running an Apparently Blind SPOT Program

Security officers with 'trained' eyes let at-risk terror tourists fly by undetected

Air traffic controllers have been catching a lot of grief for sleeping on the job recently. But do you know what Transportation Security Administration officials have been doing — or rather, not doing lately? A federal watchdog has revealed that the TSA’s counterterrorism specialists failed to detect 16 jihad operatives who moved through target airports “on at least 23 different occasions.”

The name of the TSA monitoring program paying for all this flying-blind failure? I kid you not: SPOT.

Under the “Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques” plan, the TSA’s designated behavior detection officers are supposed to closely watch travelers who pose potential security risks and who exhibit any number of appearances or activities “indicative of stress, fear or deception.” But long-entrenched, bipartisan American political correctness hampers the kind of effective, efficient national security profiling that Israeli airline security officials practice so well.

The result? TSA’s snoozing SPOT-ters catch nobody — for fear of being accused by the grievance lobby of singling anybody out.

Stephen Lord, who specializes in homeland security issues at the Government Accountability Office, reviewed Justice Department documents showing that “in December 2007 an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to Somali terrorists boarded a plane at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport en route to Somalia. Similarly, in August 2008, an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to al-Qaeda boarded a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Pakistan to receive terrorist training to support his efforts to attack the New York subway system.”

Other terror suspect travelers who slipped through the cracks have been subsequently tied to the 2008 Mumbai bombings; the plots to attack a Quantico, Va., Marine base and New York City infrastructure; and an attack by a Pakistani-trained American jihadi on an Afghanistan base.

Young. Male. Muslim. Traveling to al-Qaeda friendly hot spots. How did these at-risk terror tourists escape scrutiny?

The GAO noted that the TSA SPOT team uses a numerical grading system that has no basis in science or research. But the TSA deployed it anyway despite the government’s lack of validation. More appalling: Nearly 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks highlighted vast gaps in information-sharing and dot-connecting, The TSA is still “not systematically collecting and analyzing information obtained ... on passengers who may pose a threat to the aviation system.”

Nobody has guidance on how, when or what data to enter into the agency’s “Transportation Information Sharing System.” Nationwide airport access to the system, such as it is, only came online last month.

As usual, the now-unionized TSA is clamoring for fatter taxpayer rewards for their systemic failure. SPOT took in more than $211 million in fiscal year 2010; the Obama administration wants to pour $232 million into it this fiscal year — a 9.5 percent increase in funding — to subsidize 3,350 SPOT personnel.

The Homeland Security Department wants separate funding of another $254 million to support 350 more SPOT officers. If they get what they want, the TSA will have invested more than $800 million since fiscal year 2007 in a program that is not spotting anyone. Labor bosses are too busy counting the $30 million in new dues they’re raking in.

In the end, the reckless ethos established by the first TSA overseer, Norm Mineta, still haunts and hamstrings the feds’ indiscriminate grab-and-grope airline security apparatus.

Remember? Asked by CBS reporter Steve Kroft whether “a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach, Fla., would receive the same level of scrutiny as a Muslim young man from Jersey City,” Mineta responded in 2001, “Basically, I would hope so.”

Yep, that’s your TSA tax dollars at work: Thousands Standing Around, watching the clock while jihad jet-setters fly by.

Michelle Malkin is author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies. Click here for more information. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow her on Twitter: @michellemalkin.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >