There's nothing inherently wrong with behavior profiling. Somewhat famously, in 1986, Israeli security officers working for El Al used Israeli-style questioning to find a hidden bomb in the carry-on bag of a pregnant woman who didn't even know she was carrying it (she had been given the bag by her Jordanian terrorist boyfriend). The incident happened in London. The woman was Irish, so racial profiling had nothing to do with the detection. They just didn't like the answers she gave to their questions.
The problem is that behavior profiling is hard. It requires hiring really good people, giving them extensive training, and then having the public cooperate with intrusive questioning. We guessed that TSA's recruitment model - which quite literally involves pizza boxes - wouldn't be up to the task of finding adequate screeners. We also suggested that Americans wouldn't put up with aggressive probing, and that in any case TSA wasn't training their behavior specialists for long enough.
Of course we ended up being right. Since they didn't know what they were supposed to be looking for, and since they worked through questions quickly, TSA behavior profilers ended up focusing on race. That went went poorly.
But us being right isn't the point of this post (though it's always worth noting).
The point is that SPOT doesn't work, and there are studies that show SPOT doesn't work, and yet here we are anyway. This is what people talk about when they complain about bureaucracies never going away, but instead expanding and expanding and expanding.
[Photo: KSTP / YouTube]