Power Breakfast: House Science Committee Reviews Airport Security Program | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Power Breakfast: House Science Committee Reviews Airport Security Program

Play associated audio

Congressman Paul Broun is chairman of the subcommittee on investigations and oversight.

"TSA's spending $1.2 billion on this program and we're just going to look at the science of it, to see if in fact this is a useful expenditure of the taxpayers' dollars. In fact, I'm not sure that it is," Broun says.

At 161 airports, thousands of specially trained officers study body language and even facial expressions.

"They're looking for anxiety. They're looking for intent," Broun says.

And yes, there apparently is a difference between the kind of anxiety they're looking for and the kind that goes with, say, being late for a flight. The government contends that behavioral surveillance and physiological monitoring are based on solid science, if not "rigorously scientifically validated." According to Broun, a Georgia Republican who's made this the focus of his first oversight hearing, Congress is overdue to take a closer look.

"We can't be 100 percent safe -- there's no way. We have limited resources...We've got to expend taxpayer dollars in a very cost effective way to do what we need to do," he says.

In other words, this fits right in with the GOP-led House's overarching goals of aggressive oversight and spending reduction.

For its part, TSA isn't exactly on board. The agency has declined to participate in today's hearing.

"They've been invited," Broun says. "Why they're refusing to come, I don't know. Do they have something to hide? I don't know..."

By the way, if the analysis of micro-facial ticks and self-incriminating expressions sounds like the makings of a Hollywood story, it is. One of today's star witnesses is psychologist Paul Ekman, who pioneered the field and inspired a network television show.

NPR

Kids' Films And Stories Share A Dark Theme: Dead Mothers

Why do so many animated movies star motherless kids? Sarah Boxer, a graphic novelist, cartoon-lover and mother, talks to NPR's Kelly McEvers about the phenomenon and the message it sends to children.
NPR

Saskawhat? A Novel Berry From Canada Takes Root On Michigan Farms

Some rookie farmers in northern Michigan are growing saskatoon, an imported shrub from Canada that looks like blueberry. They're also experimenting with it in the kitchen — in jams and pies.
NPR

What Will Become Of Obama's Request For Immigration Relief Funds?

NPR's Arun Rath talks to political correspondent Mara Liasson about the chances of a political agreement over how to handle the migration of thousands of Central American children.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.