Opinion

Frustrated TSA agent leaks feds’ tips on likely terrorists; guess what’s not on the list?

Transportation Security Agency guidlelines are perfect for catching sleepy people, people who get nervous about flying, or even people who like to whistle, but they don’t do much good spotting terrorist.

That was the conclusion that led a TSA employee to leak the agency’s signs for spotting suspicious behavior in an airport, according to a “Fox & Friends Weekend” report.

So if you’re not a morning person, you may want to avoid early morning flights no matter how attractive the fare may be. If you’re a naturally fidgety person, you may want to avoid air travel altogether.

These are just a few of the signs Transportation Security Administration agents look for to determine whether you may be a terrorist.

“So, if it’s a 6 a.m. flight and you’re excessively yawning, the TSA may look at you unfavorably and consider you a terrorist,” Clayton Morris said on “Fox and Friends Weekend.”

“Or, if you dare to complain about having some stranger feeling you up in public, you’re probably a terrorist,” Tucker Carlson remarked.

“You know what’s not on the list?” Carlson added. “Middle Eastern appearance.”

The confidential checklist, called the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, was leaked to The Intercept, an online publication launched by First Look Media. It came from a source inside the agency who had serious doubts about the usefulness of the program.

The Intercept reported:

The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly.

“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 (LEO),” the agency said in its email to The Intercept. “Officers are trained and audited to ensure referrals for additional screening are based only on observable behaviors and not race or ethnicity.”

Other signs include whistling, excessive throat clearing, wearing improper attire for location, gazing down, exaggerated or repetitive grooming gestures and face pale from recent shaving of beard.

The Twitterverse had a field day in this one, including these:

The Intercept published its story Friday. The following day, the New York Post reported that TSA agents, apparently using its SPOT techniques as a reference, gave a real-life convicted terrorist expedited security clearance.

Sarah Jane Olson, 67, a convicted terrorist and member of the California-based Symbionese Liberation Army, spent 25 years in hiding before her arrest in 1999 resulting in a guilty plea for attempted murder.

Even though an agent recognized her, she was allowed to pass through with nary a raised eyebrow.

She must have been in a hurry.

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