More TSA Metastasis

One of the things Kip Hawley left out of his explanation of why the TSA sucks is the TSA’s infestation of other forms of transportation, such as the one described in this press release from the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority:

In an unprecedented approach that involved four law enforcement agencies – including federal agents – METRO launched a national BusSafe pilot program last Friday that saturated its system and resulted in quality arrests, making transit safer for passengers.

The METRO Police Department, Houston Police Department, Harris County Precinct 7 Deputy Constables and 15 agents – part of so-called viper teams – from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) joined forces in a synchronized, counter-terrorism exercise that focused on bus stops and shelters and transit centers.

Law officials performed random bag checks, conducted sweeps with our K-9 drug and bomb-detecting dogs, and assigned both uniformed and plainclothes officers at transit centers and rail platforms to detect and prevent criminal activity.

The call it a “counter-terrorism exercise,” but in the very next paragraph they mention drug-sniffing dogs, which of course have nothing to do with catching terrorists. And given the incredibly self-serving nature of this press release, they would have mentioned it if any of the “quality arrests” had been for something even remotely resembling terrorist activity.

In reality, what they did was setup an internal checkpoint — a place were citizens just going about their business are forced to show their papers and submit to questioning and investigation by the authorities — which is the hallmark of tyrannical governments everywhere, and a sign of creeping totalitarianism here.

Naturally, our elected representatives don’t see the problem:

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas District 18), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, called this a new era for the TSA, and a new era for surface transportation security.

“We’re looking to make sure that the lady I saw walking with a cane…knows that METRO cares as much about her as we do about building the light rail,” said Jackson Lee at the news conference.

What the hell is that? Mention a woman with a cane and somehow that makes it alright to harass citizens for no reason? Is she that stupid? Or does she think we’re that stupid?

(Hat tip: Mark Bennett.)

Update: And now the Houston METRO folks have realized that “random” searches may not hold up in court, so they’re trying to change their story. Mark Bennett is all over it.

3 responses to “More TSA Metastasis”

  1. clippermiami

    Welcome to the New and Improved America 2.0, the Police State perfected.

  2. Jeff

    1) Great article.

    2) Join our organization at http://fttusa.org if you believe in the 4th Amendment and are against the TSA’s illegal activities…which brings us to..

    3) Law enforcement cannot search your belongings other than police (not TSA employees which are NOT law enforcement, except for Air Marshals) can briefly (as in a few seconds, not a detailed examination) examine bags at subways for obvious signs of threatening objects such as bombs. FYI, if you have legal right to carry guns and a concealed weapon permit allowed in your city/state, it would be difficult for them to even search for guns legally.

    The TSA agents are probably performing illegal searches contrary to the 4th amendment. The law enforcement officers may perform a search as described above, and this has been supported in the Court System (don’t get me started…..).

    4) Reporting: Please define “quality arrests”. As you indicate, performing searches without reasonable, articulable suspicion is generally illegal. If a non-law enforcement officer performs a search, and then calls in a law enforcement officer to make an arrest – based on a search the law enforcement officer could not have performed – well, this is a good reason to motion to have evidence thrown out by a court. It often works, although less and less as the courts are dismantling the 4th amendment.

    5) Yes, we are becoming a police state. Police are generally good when they protect us from bad people. The VIPR searches, led by the TSA, are what malign the police as the TSA is treating citizens as “guilty until proven innocent” – which is the classic hallmark of Russia with the KGB, East Germany with the Stasi, and other stellar 3rd world dictatorships. We are rapidly approaching this, even if you argue we are not purposefully evil.

  3. Mister Pickles

    Thank you for posting this story. I had not seen it elsewhere. I’ve had to ride buses through the southwest US and been harassed at immigration stops along with everybody else on the bus. Even been threatened with being pulled off the bus and stranded. I feel sorry for the people who are putting up with even worse crap.

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