Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TSA: America's Gestapo

Update: There is a story doing the rounds about a gun being discovered inside a teddy bear at Orlando International. But I am far too cynical to report on it until more details are available.

Was it only three days ago that I said this?
I don't know which would trouble me the most, the nuke plant or the mobilising of the TSA.

Drive on!

Surprise! TSA Is Searching Your Car, Subway, Ferry, Bus, AND Plane
By Jen Phillips
June 20, 2011

Think you could avoid the TSA's body scanners and pat-downs by taking Amtrak? Think again. Even your daily commute isn't safe from TSA screenings. And because the TSA is working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol, you may have your immigration status examined along with your "junk".

As part of the TSA's request for FY 2012 funding, TSA Administrator John Pistole told Congress last week that the TSA conducts 8,000 unannounced security screenings every year. These screenings, conducted with local law enforcement agencies as well as immigration, can be as simple as checking out cargo at a busy seaport. But more and more, they seem to involve giving airport-style pat-downs and screenings of unsuspecting passengers at bus terminals, ferries, and even subways.

These surprise visits are part of the TSA's VIPR program: Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response. The VIPR program first started doing searches in 2007, and has grown since then. Currently, the TSA only has 25 VIPR teams doing these impromptu searches: in 2012, it wants to get 12 more.

The searches are in the name of passenger security, and the TSA says it wants to prevent incidents like the 2004 Madrid train bombings. But if the airports' TSA searches miss security risks like large knives, loaded guns, and explosives, there's certainly the chance that screenings at train stations would be similarly flawed.

Not to worry: security isn't the only goal of VIPR. A recent VIPR operation/screening at a Tampa Greyhound bus station was conducted with US Border Patrol and ICE. "What we're looking for is threats to national security as well as immigration law violators," said Steve McDonald from US Border Patrol. An ICE representative said that they were also looking for smuggling, and Gary Milano from Homeland Security said that although that was the first time the Tampa bus depot had been screened, VIPR would be back again sometime in the future and was using the element of surprise as a deterrent to "the bad guys."

Although one man at the Tampa screening said he felt "safer," VIPR operations are not without their naysayers. A VIPR screening at a Des Moines Greyhound station last week is alleged to have targeted Latinos. Another TSA/Border Patrol VIPR screening on a trolley in San Diego resulted in three teens being handcuffed and deported while on their way to school. Around 20 others were also deported, according to local news outlets.

The trolley is part of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. "We believe this is a flagrant violation of human rights, when we have a situation in which children are being separated from their families without the proper due process rights being afforded to them," said a spokesman for the girl's family. The three teens nabbed in the San Diego VIPR operation were deported to Tijuana, but later allowed to re-enter the United States on humanitarian visas.

More children, this time train passengers disembarking at Savannah, Georgia, were treated to questionable TSA treatment in February along with their families. While the passengers (who again, had just gotten OFF a train) were lifting their shirts and having bras handled during pat-downs, their luggage was sitting unattended on the train platform.

The TSA later admitted that the VIPR operation should have ended before the train entered the station, but told the public that the Savannah passengers didn't have to enter the screening area... even though an eye-witness says a TSA agent instructed them to go into the screening area to collect their luggage... the luggage that was actually waiting somewhere else.

VIPR operations are now even targeting freight trucks on highways. In addition to the random checks on public transit systems, it makes you wonder: can private vehicles be far behind? Will there be any mode of transportation beyond the reach of the TSA?

UPDATE: According to at least one news report out of Brownsville, Texas, TSA/VIPR has already conducted unannounced inspections of private passenger cars and trucks. Thanks for the tip, reader @jwindz.

UPDATE 2: Welcome, Drudge Report readers! If you liked this story, check out our story on how the TSA is scanning your face in an attempt to read your mind, our explainer on the safety of the new "porno-scanners," our report on the TSA missing a man's loaded handgun, our investigation of the people who are profiting from the new scanners, and Kevin Drum's anti-anti-TSA rant. ....... Mother Jones

Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely is much more fun.


Anonymous said...


Himself said...

Thanks for the links, this one in particular.

I shall run this story when I get back, by which time I might have a few links of my own for you.

America has always had a big eugenics/experiments program, try this one for size.

The irony is, and why the story is a goer, it's always the religious right, and there is nowhere more RR than NC, that is the first to quote Hitler's eugenics program when trying to put down Darwin.

Misquoting or misusing, either deliberately or in their profound ignorance, the term natural selection as ''Survival of the fittest.''

Later. H

Or if you can, send me an email address, mine is under my profile.

Anonymous said...

Riddick is one of an estimated 7,600 North Carolinians sterilized under the state’s eugenics program. On the books from 1929-74, its goal was to keep those deemed to have undesirable traits from having kids. The vast majority marked for sterilization were minorities, poor, undereducated, institutionalized, sick, or disabled. Eighty-five percent were female, some as young as 10 years old. “To find out that my government has done something so hideous only brought shame upon me,” Riddick says.

North Carolina drops payment to forced sterilization victims‎.

Anonymous said...

Robeson woman was victim of NC's forced sterilization program.

Virginia Brooks remembers it being the Great Depression when, at the age of 13, "the law" took her from her Robeson County foster home and put her in a detention center for girls in Moore County.

"I didn't know what was going on," the 83-year-old said Friday. "I didn't have anybody to take care of me, like I should. I didn't get to go to school, like I should."

Brooks spent 23 months at the detention facility, called Samarkand Manor, before she was delivered back to Robeson County to the custody of social services.

She was then put in a sanatorium, where workers there told her she needed to have her appendix removed.

Only after the fact did she learn the painful truth.

"They clipped my tubes to keep me from having children," Brooks said. "I didn't know why they did it. Nobody explained anything to me."

She was among more than 7,600 North Carolinians sterilized under the state's eugenics program, which lasted from 1929 until 1974.

Thirty-two other states had also adopted eugenics programs in the early 1900s out of a belief that humanity could evolve and society could be improved by breeding out undesirable characteristics.

Himself said...

Finding it hard to concentrate Maren, I have a bit of a rough day, will look to things thu/friday.


Anonymous said...

Hi H, just the continuation of the story, info. Better save your energy for healthy things, more dearly than the written word can tell. Sleepzz. M