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Democrat questions TSA over Israeli-style ‘chat downs’

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Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) on Monday called for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to halt the implementation of a new behavioral screening program that is modeled after Israel’s airport security screening methods.

He is a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

The 60-day Behavior Detection Officer pilot program began Monday at the Boston Logan International Airport. In the new “Assessor” screenings, TSA officers will ask passengers a few personal questions and look for signs that they may be hiding something. Suspicious passengers will be sent to a secondary screening or referred to a law enforcement officer.

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In a letter (PDF) to TSA Administrator John Pistole, Thompson questioned why the agency had decided to implement a “scientifically unproven technique,” noting there “is no scientific validation, limited or comprehensive, of the efficacy of the Assessor model of screening to detect persons who pose a security risk to aviation.”

Thompson is skeptical that the results of the pilot program can determine how the agency should proceed with the “chat downs.”

“Although the [Behavior Detection Officers] may not have interviewed a sufficient number of passengers to yield a statistically significant result during this 60 day period, TSA representatives indicated during the briefing that the agency plans on using the results of the pilot to determine whether the ‘assessor’ program should be expanded.”

“As Congress and the Executive Branch continue to negotiate historic reductions in federal spending, it is curious that TSA continues to deploy personnel and divert dwindling budget resources to this unproven, costly and potentially ineffective security screening protocol,” he added.

The Behavior Detection Officer pilot program is part of a nearly $1 billion national program called the Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT) program.

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Pompeo ridiculed by CNN panel for his ‘phony mock outrage’ response after being outed as a foul-mouthed bully

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Responding to a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued through the State Department accusing an NPR journalist of being "shameless" for going public with an encounter she had with him in his offices where he cursed at her, a CNN panel all but rolled their eyes at his "phony" outrage.

Speaking with host Anderson Cooper, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called out the blustery Pompeo as well as many Republicans who took "umbrage" at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) mentioning a report that the Donald Trump would have their heads on "on a pike" if they crossed him.

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So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire

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In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump lawyer Purpura busted by MSNBC for lying on the Senate floor during impeachment trial

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Moments after the end of the Saturday's Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump concluded, MSNBC host Brian Williams pointed out that one of Donald Trump's attorney's lied on the Senate floor about the president's Ukraine scandal-- and he had a clip handy to prove it.

Sharing footage of attorney Mike Purpura stating the higher-ups in Ukraine were unaware that Donald Trump was withholding aid until after the government helped him by announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, the MSNBC host called the attorney out.

To make his point that Pupura was being untruthful, Williams then showed a clip of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, who testified that Ukrainians were asking about the delay on the day of the Trump phone call that was the starting point of the impeachment trial.

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