TSA VIPERS

You may recall my posting regarding the TSA VIPR team searching passengers coming off a train at Savannah, GA last month, including video evidence of groping young boys. The video is here.

From Trains here is more on the story, including a chief of police that finally is willing to take on this thuggish behavior:

Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor said he first thought a blog posting about the incident was a joke. When he discovered that the TSA’s VIPR team did at least some of what the blog said, he was livid. He ordered the VIPR teams off Amtrak property, at least until a firm agreement can be drawn up to prevent the TSA from taking actions that the chief said were illegal and clearly contrary to Amtrak policy.

“Illegal.” I second that.

“When I saw it, I didn’t believe it was real,” O’Connor said. When it developed that the posting on an anti-TSA blog was not a joke, “I hit the ceiling.”

You may recall I held the story for four days because I thought it was a set up to make opponents of the TSA look bad (i.e., a planted fake tape). The story goes on:

O’Connor said he must take some of the blame because he did not more carefully observe what the VIPR teams were doing. He said the TSA had apologized repeatedly to him, but they must agree to firm restrictions before he will consider allowing them back on Amtrak property.

I salute Chief O’Connor. Now, where are all of the other local chiefs of police that are allowing this illegal nonsense to go on?

Here’s more:

The VIPR teams were rolled out on Dec. 12, 2005, then promptly pulled back two days later when it turned out that no one had informed numerous local governments. It was a fiasco. Several local jurisdictions said they had no interest and opted out, including the Washington Metro system. But teams, moving slowly, have apparently re-infiltrated surface transportation facilities. Unlike the TSA at airports, these teams have access to firepower. Although the TSA is not allowed to carry weapons, some armed Federal Air Marshals have been switched to ground duty.

One major unanswered question is: why? What purpose is being served other than to justify employment? You will certainly hear more about this in Trains.

They are setting up roadblocks, they are searching bus passengers, and they continue with the nude machines and grope searches at airports. There are news reports (see here for just one of numerous examples) that the TSA has set up or is setting up mobile vans to scan people on streets. Last year at this time, I wouldn’t have given that story any credibility, but given the TSA’s recent activities, I certainly do not rule it out.

I also want to salute Trains for its reporting on this issue. It is a mystery to me why so much of the media, which claims to take the Bill of Rights seriously, is virtually silent on the increasingly out-of-control TSA.

Have you contacted your congressperson?

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