Boston’s TSA screeners — part of a security force whose competency has come under fire nationwide — soon will be carrying out sophisticated behavioral inspections under a first-in-the-nation program that’s already raising concerns of racial profiling, harassment of innocent travelers and longer lines.
The training for the Israeli-style screening — a projected $1 billion national program dubbed Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques — kicks off today at Logan International Airport and will be put to use in Terminal A on Aug. 15. It requires screeners to make quick reads of whether passengers pose a danger or a terror threat based on their reactions to a set of routine questions.
But security experts wonder whether Transportation Safety Administration agents are up to the challenge after an embarrassing string of blunders — including patting down a 95-year-old grandmother in Florida and making her remove her adult diaper and frisking a 3-year-old girl who screamed “stop touching me” at a checkpoint in Tennessee.
“I’m not convinced that the TSA has good enough people to make the Israeli approach work on a large scale,” said Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor who has followed the TSA at his blog, Instapundit.com.
But he noted, “Almost anything would be an improvement over the clown show we’ve got now.”
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