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The TSA thinks it can catch terrorists by watching people yawn

The TSA thinks it can catch terrorists by watching people yawn


Anyone getting on a plane probably shows some of these behaviors

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Next time you're making your way through airport security, you should probably avoid whistling. Definitely don't give anyone a "cold, penetrating stare." And go easy on the yawning. The Intercept has gotten a hold of the TSA's guide for spotting terrorists, and true to the complaints that've been lobbed at the agency for years, the list is incredibly generic; just about anyone boarding a flight could be labeled an evildoer in the eyes of the TSA.

If you're freshly shaved, you might be a terrorist

Agents look for the indicators and tally up every traveler's total "suspicious behavior" score to decide if it's worth flagging down a law enforcement officer. Former TSA employees who spoke with The Intercept said that the SPOT (Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) sheet is catch-all by design and gives the agency freedom to finger anyone as a potential threat to passenger safety. "Taxpayer dollars would be better spent funding real police at TSA checkpoints," a former manager said.

Nervous flyers have it especially rough. Throughout the 92-point checklist, excessive fidgeting, sweating, and touching of the face are seen as giveaways that you're up to no good. Apparently the TSA prefers unkempt flyers, with "face pale from recent shaving of beard" good for one point on the stress factor list. The SPOT checklist isn't classified, but The Intercept says it hasn't been published in full until now.

The TSA was quick to note that its agents use plenty of other criteria in trying to pick out dangerous flyers — though its methods have been shown to work only slightly better than pure chance. When you give the full list a look, it's not hard to understand why that's the case. Yes, they're really looking at your Adam's Apple for clues.