US Passenger Behavior Monitor Questioned

US experts and scientists question the credibility of using advanced equipment to pick up tell-tale signs of alleged hostile intent and analyze behavioral and physiological expressions to track would-be terrorists.

US Passenger Behavior Monitor Questioned

There could be all kinds of reasons that might make people behave in certain ways that have nothing to do with terrorism," Anthony Richards, a counter-terrorism expert at St Andrews University, told the Guardian Thursday, August 9.

"If you have heightened security and there are a lot of police around, it could be possible that you can feel and look guilty even when you haven't done anything wrong."

Washington has drawn up plans to develop and install state-of-the-art devices at airports, ports and borders to look for unusual behavior of "would-be" terrorists.

Based on video cameras, laser light, infra-red, audio recordings and eye tracking technology, the devices detect unintentional facial twitches that could be interpreted as lying or trying to conceal information.

The devices would also be used to spot deceptions from people's heart rates, perspiration and tiny shifts in facial expressions.

The US plans include developing a lie detector-type test that can be used remotely without the target's knowledge.

"Right now, screeners have typically less than one minute to examine a traveler's documents and assess whether they are a threat," said Larry Orluskie of the Homeland Security Department.

Root Causes

Experts are skeptical of the use of such devices, urging authorities to rather delve into the root causes of terrorism.

"We need to reduce the motivation for people doing these kinds of things," said Richards.

"We shouldn't just accept that terrorism will remain as it is or worsen over the next 20 or 30 years and then just put all the technological solutions in place."

Richards, who has helped Britain preempt terrorist attacks, recognizes that technology is a fundamental element in terror-combat.

"But that shouldn't detract from the crucially important challenge of finding out what is driving terrorism," he insisted.

"We need to have a sensible and honest appraisal as to what is radicalizing young people."

Peter McOwan, a computer scientist who is developing sensors to detect people's moods at Queen Mary, University of London, agreed.

"It's just like something from Minority Report. They have been watching too many Tom Cruise movies."

The Congress has recently approved a new anti-terrorism bill that would provide lawsuit protection to people who report "suspicious activities."

Six imams, who had valid tickets and cleared the security screening, were removed from a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight last year over what a passenger felt was "suspicious behavior".

They were handcuffed and detained in the airport for questioning for over six hours.

The imams have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the country's fifth largest airline. & Newspapers


Last Mod: 09 Ağustos 2007, 19:14
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