Also, leave your almanacs and prepaid cell cards at home too, those could cause you to miss your flight as well.
While the TSA states that one element alone won't be determinate in making you a suspected terrorist, one does need to be concerned that the agent checking doesn't suffer from bromidrophobia (fear of body odor).
Just be sure that you use Listerine and read your boring almanac looking up with your eyes 50% closed when standing in line.
The program, known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, has been in use nationwide since 2007 and has cost taxpayers upwards of $1 billion dollars.
SPOT has been dogged with accusations that it is based on pseudoscience and promotes racial and ethnic profiling among the some 3,000 TSA agents tasked with observing unusual behavior. Two years ago, a review by the Government Accountability Office found no clear evidence that the protocol used by SPOT-trained agents to detect terrorists was any better than random selection. The GAO report recommended that Congress halt funding for the program.
Despite the scathing conclusions, however, the SPOT program has continued, and its screening checklist has been kept largely secret until now. Its backers say the program is an essential layer of TSA's multipronged airport security approach and expressly forbids any kind of discriminatory profiling.
In a statement, a TSA spokesman said the agency would not comment on or confirm the checklist published by The Intercept.
“Behavior-analysis techniques that have been successfully employed by law enforcement and security personnel both in the U.S. and internationally,” the spokesman said. “No single behavior alone will cause a traveler to be referred to additional screening or will result in a call to a law enforcement officer.”
The “observation and behavior analysis” section of the checklist adheres to a point-counting formula to determine which passengers should be referred for a screening. Designated stress factors, such as “strong body order,” count for 1 point. Fear factors, like “bulges in clothing” or “rigid posture,” count for 2 points. Finally, deception factors—appearing confused or in disguise or repeatedly patting upper body with hands—count for 3 points.
TSA agents are directed to refer passengers who score 4 or 5 points to a screening. Passengers that score at least 6 points are referred to a screening and reported to a law-enforcement officer.
The formula allows for some subtraction. Traveling as a member of a family will deduct 2 points from a passenger's score, as will the appearance of traveling as a married couple where both spouses are 55 or older. Women over the age of 55 and men over the age of 65 are deemed “low risk” and can have one point subtracted.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union sued TSA for access to records related to the SPOT program's efficacy, which the agency has so far refused to hand over.
“What we know about SPOT suggests it wastes taxpayer money, leads to racial profiling, and should be scrapped,” said Hugh Handeyside, staff lawyer with the ACLU. “The TSA has insisted on keeping documents about SPOT secret, but the agency can't hide the fact that there's no evidence the program works. The discriminatory racial profiling that SPOT has apparently led to only reinforces that the public needs to know more about how this program is used and with what consequences for Americans' rights.”
The SPOT program has also in recent years attracted the scrutiny of lawmakers in both parties skeptical of its efficacy and concerned about the high price tag. In 2013, Rep. Mark Sanford, a South Carolina Republican, extensively questioned former Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole at a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing about whether the SPOT program held any merit or was necessary given the other layers of airport security.
“You go through a screening system which essentially undresses somebody, you send their equipment through radar detection and other devices,” Sanford said. “The question is, from a civil-liberties standpoint, given those other tests, do you in addition have to go through a screening process based on somebody's interpretation of what might be in your brain?”