So many strange and not so wonderful things going on in the country of ours. Racists hating on an interracial Cheerios commercial, a judge (federal, no less) in Texas saying blacks and Latinos are predisposed to violent crime, government making Verizon give up all its phone records, and that's just for openers. How about this one? The Department of Homeland Security says a behavior detection program used by some managers and screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport to engage in racial profiling didn't even work at identifying potential terrorists. That, of course, was its primary function.
The Inspector General's Office of DHS is already looking into the racial profiling allegations, which go back to 2008-09. Yet the galling thing about this report is that DHS spent a whopping $878 million dollars on this program from 2007-12. The report says the Transportation Security Administration was essentially clueless about training, finance, and effectiveness when it came to this program, named the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT.
And what did air passengers get for this nearly billion dollar program? Racial profiling, that's what. The SPOT program was supposed to teach screeners to recognize sweating, fidgeting, avoidance of eye contact, and such as possible reasons to flag a passenger. What ended up happening was some, not all screeners and their bosses started flagging Latino passengers in an effort to make the program look effective.
Despite this complete waste of money, the SPOT program won't be eliminated. It simply won't be expended beyond its current 2800 employees nationwide. Since 9/11/2001, I've talked to a fair number of security experts who say what most passengers experience in then nation's airport checkpoints isn't really about passenger safety at all. They call it "security theater", meaning it's meant to put riders' minds at ease.
Would you like your theater with or without racial profiling?