The Secret Terrorist Identifiers The TSA Doesn’t Want You To Know

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The Secret Terrorist Identifiers The TSA Doesn’t Want You To Know

The Secret Terrorist Identifiers The TSA Doesn’t Want You To Know

Ever since the establishment of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), it has been met with much scrutiny. Today, an official TSA document was leaked by The Intercept that detailed a checklist of things to look for in “potential terrorists”. The document outlines program SPOT (Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) and the various ways of identifying a potential terror threat.

The “Spot Referral Report” was not previously confidential, but it had bever been publicly released before. It was obtained after a source provided it because of concerns about the quality of the program. The report acts as a checklist of things to watch out for and is comprised of a points system. Each item on the checklist is worth 1-3 points which can be deducted from your 92-point score as officers make observations about you.

  • “Married” Couple over 55: -2 points
  • Single Women over 55: – 1 point
  • Single Men over 65: – 1 point

If you happen to get pulled aside, for whatever reason, you will be judged by two more categories such as having unusual items – an almanac, for instance – and whether you exhibit “signs of deception” like blinking (*cough Robert Durst cough*) a lot.

 “The TSA has insisted on keeping documents about SPOT secret, but the agency can’t hide the fact that there’s no evidence the program works,” said Hugh Handeyside, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, in a statement announcing the lawsuit (

Here is the entire point system used by TSA. How many apply to you as a regular flier?

1 Pointers (Stress Factors)

  • Arrives late for flight, if known
  • Avoids eye contact with security personnel or LEO
  • Exaggerated yawning as the individual approaches the screening process
  • Excessive fidgeting, clock watching, head-turning, shuffling feet, leg shaking
  • Excessive perspiration inconsistent with the environment
  • Face pale from recent shaving of beard
  • Facial flushing while undergoing screening
  • Faster eye blink rate when individual requested to submit to screening procedures
  • Increased breathing rate, panting
  • Obvious “Adams Apple” jump when requested to submit to screening procedures
  • Protruding or beating neck arteries
  • Repetitive touching of face
  • Rubbing or wringing of hands
  • Strong body odor
  • Sweaty palms
  • Trembling
  • Whistling as the individual approaches the screening process

2 Pointers (Fear Factors)

  • Bag appears to be heavier than expected or bag does not suit the individuals appearance
  • Bulges in clothing
  • Cold penetrating stare
  • Constantly looking at other travelers or associates
  • Exaggerated emotions or inappropriate behaviors to the location such as crying, excessive laughter, or chatter
  • Exaggerated, repetitive grooming gestures
  • Hesitation/indecision on entering checkpoint or submitting to screening process
  • Individuals who are seemingly unrelated but display identical dress or luggage
  • Powerful grip of bag and/or hand inside the bag
  • Rigid posture, minimal body movements with arms close to sides
  • Scans area, appearing to look for security personnel or LEO
  • Shows unusual interest in security officers and their work routine
  • Displays arrogance and verbally expresses contempt for screening process
  • Wearing improper attire for location
  • Widely open staring eyes

3 Pointers (Deception Factors)

  • Appears to be confused or disoriented
  • Appears to be in disguise
  • Asks the BDO (behavior direction officer) security-related questions
  • Does not respond to authoritative commands
  • Maintains covert ties with others (maintaining consistent eye contact with others, exhibiting hand gestures to others or passing objects to others)
  • Repeatedly pats upper body with hands (not associated with divesting objects at X-ray or Walk Through Metal Detector (WTMD)

Items Considered Unusual (1 point per item)

  • Almanacs
  • Blueprints
  • GPS unit
  • Training manuals such as flight, scuba, explosive, or military
  • Liquids or gels (in excess of 3.4 oz or 100 ml)
  • Numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones
  • Photographs/diagrams of high profile targets
  • Rope, wire, duct tape, loose batteries, loose electronic components

Sources: First Look & Spot Referral Report

Related topics air travel, flight, TSA
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