Moving from Reacting to Preventing Acts of Terrorism

TSA Has Been Missing Terrorists Because They Have Been Unable To Foresee And Thereby Prevent These Terrorists’ Acts.

It is only with the observation of “emerging aggression” and the distinction between “Primal and Cognitive Aggression” that one can foresee and prevent any level of aggression, including a terrorist.

Why Have Current Government Systems Failed Us?

Current systems in place to foresee and prevent the violence of individuals like Major Nidal Malik Hasan, whose massacre took the lives of 13 soldiers and wounded 29 others, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day Bomber and Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber are not working! 

The Government has put a number of systems in place, yet they leave significant gaps permitting terrorist like Major Hasan, Abdulmutallab and Shahzad the means to pass through. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a review of TSA’s behavior detection program, known as SPOT (“Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques”).  The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee web site states, “GAO’s report confirms that TSA has bungled the development and deployment of a potentially important layer of aviation security.”  Why is TSA having such difficulty preventing these incidents? Because they are looking for the wrong person!  According to the report, “Since the SPOT program’s inception, 17 known terrorists have traveled through eight SPOT airports on 23 different occasions. This includes Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber.”

Stop Reacting And Start Preventing!

Only when we isolate “aggressive behavior” specifically and judge it on its merits, we will be able to foresee, engage and prevent any level of emerging aggressive behavior.  According to the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education’s report on Targeted Violence in Schools, there is a significant difference between “profiling” and foreseeing emerging aggression; their study concluded, “The use of profiles is not effective either for identifying students who may pose a risk for targeted violence at school or – once a student has been identified – for assessing the risk that a particular student may pose for school-based targeted violence.”  It continues; “An inquiry should focus instead on a student’s behaviors and communications to determine if the student appears to be planning or preparing for an attack.”  Assessing objective, culturally neutral, distinct body language, behavioral and communication indicators of emerging aggression is the only effective means to foresee and prevent the threat posed by any aggressor who intends harm  to others, whether the perpetrators are students or terrorists. 

In Tel Aviv, Israel, Ben Gurion Airport bridges the gap between “profiling” and protecting their passengers by interrogating every passenger, a method deemed inappropriate at the much busier Boston Logan Airport because no one would make their flights and the Israelis patently stereotype, therefore their system in the US would never pass a challenge by civil libertarians.  Hence the reason the “Israel Method” will not find success in the United States.

Mental Health Resources Are Also Failing Us.

We repeatedly hear that Major Hasan had PTSD or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, a form of mental illness.  Although this may be true, using mental health resources as a means to identify these threats of aggression have repeatedly failed their purpose.  The Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy, June 13, 2007 concludes, “Most people who are violent do not have a mental illness, and most people who have mental illness are not violent.”  “Those with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence, not perpetrators.” In fact, according to U.S. News, August 20, 2009, Virginia Tech’s staff evaluated Seung-Hui Cho more than a year before he killed 32 people, himself and wounding 25 others in that fateful 2007 rampage.  In three separate interactions with the school’s counseling center at the end of 2005, the staff found the Virginia Tech killer, Mr. Cho, to be depressed and anxious but not at risk of hurting himself or others, according to the center’s records.

The Government Systems Continues to Fail Us.

Until now, government relies predominantly on foreseeing an adrenaline-driven Primal Aggressor to identify a terrorist.  This has failed because it represents an individual who is losing control, not a terrorist.  Generated by anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, etc. too often airport security (TSA) accosts the 85 year old woman going to her late husband’s funeral because she is gripped with anxiety, fear and frustration.  Primal Aggression will identify those who are fearful of being caught for drug related types of issues but will not foresee the terrorists.  This was clearly illustrated in the GAO reports that between May 2004 and August 2008:

  • 2 billion passengers went through SPOT airports
  • 150,000 were selected for secondary screening
  • 14,000 were referred to law enforcement
  • 1,100 were arrested
  • 0 were arrested for terrorism.

Terrorists, not only disconnect from their victim, they disconnect from their own well-being, and lose those Primal Aggression markers of anxiety used by TSA; they take on Cognitive Aggression markers, which permit us to foresee and prevent their acts of terror.  In another key flaw, TSA continues to use Deception Detection, as the basis for their Behavior Recognition (Project Hostile Intent) or SPOT program, a system long determined to be inadequate. Different cultures deceive differently and since there are over two thousand cultures, Deception Detection requires far too much sophistication for most to use effectively and therefore it is prone to apply stereotyping and profiling, becoming an immediate target of civil libertarians. A failed system out of the box, yet our government continues to use it, and continues to try to validate it.  It is not until our TSA realizes that a terrorist is an intent-driven Cognitive Aggressor that they will foresee and prevent the next terrorist attack.  It is only through the ability to foresee the emergence of all levels of the intent-driven Cognitive Aggression Continuum that one can prevent the next terrorists attack.

70 Comments

  1. Despite these sell-researched and documented facts, the TSA continues and escalates. Now, we must submit to body scans or intrusive pat-downs.
    It’s like trying to reach a destination more quickly by running faster in the wrong direction. 🙁 It won’t work.

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  3. Excellent observations regarding the what TSA is doing (OR NOT)and gives valuable insight into where the program should be focusing its efforts.

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  6. John D. Byrnes

    However, I would suggest that “anger management” is a misnomer.  It is okay to be angry, it is not okay to be “aggressive!” This is why I call it “Aggression Management.”

  7. first of all i am saying thank you so much for giving chance to describe my point of view and second also thanks and i always appreciate you because you doing great job and sharing most helpful and informative information for everyone at the end again i am saying that keep it up you doing great job through your blog very well for people benefits not for earning purpose.

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  10. John D. Byrnes

    Your question demonstrates all the more reason to have a Meter of Emerging Aggression to shine the light of day on aggression that is all too often “normalized” or “hyperbolized” by the media.

  11. I have seen your awareness about this theme when you post it and it really gives an informational message to us readers. I am hoping that you will continue writing this kind of blog. Thanks for sharing this information.

  12. This article certainly gained me fresh perspectives on the whole terrorism situation that has baffled me for quite some time, being subject to checks at the airport and even questioned just for possessing an e-cig. They must have thought it was a weapon.

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  26. John D. Byrnes

    Yes, often missed, this is what makes terrorists and domestically, perpetrators of murder/suicide, so lethal. So disconnected, they find a profound calm. They have no compunction about killing multiple people regards of age or gender.  This is why a terrorist will blow themselves up with their own children in the back seat. Sadly, in the absence of our Primal and Cognitive Aggression Continua, offering the precursors to their violence; these aggressors will too often go unseen leaving only reaction (response) as an option.

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