New TSA Pre-Crime Detectors
Coming Soon to an Airport Near You
by Wendy McElroy
If you fly within the United States in the future, keep your expression neutral, do not blink too much or too little, and do not sweat. Carefully maintain a normal respiration and heart beat as you submit to demands from Homeland Security agents. If you question or resist their demands, you could be detained as a pre-crime suspect, fined up to $11,000 and added to a No Fly list.
On July 5, a headline in the bioethical news source BioEdge declared, “‘Pre-crime’ terrorist detector field tested in US.” BioEdge explained that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finished initial testing of Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), which is “designed to spot people who intend to commit a terrorist act.” According to DHS documents, however, FAST targets a far broader range of people, from “individuals planning to cause a disturbance or use false documents to individuals who are planning an assassination or terrorist attack. The future time horizon can range from planning an event years in advance to planning to carry out the act immediately after passing through screening.”
Unlike most other security measures, FAST is not aimed at finding contraband or explosives but at identifying suspicious people before they can cause trouble. FAST expands a trend currently expressed through the behavior detection officers who are part of a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) program entitled Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT). These TSA screeners are trained to spot and detain questionable people even if the people have done nothing wrong; about 3,000 behavior-detection officers are currently spread throughout America’s airport system.