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Civil rights

TSA hits American trains and buses

VIPR-style public transit searches (credit: waltarrrrr at Flickr)

Attacks on passengers’ civil rights is one of the most unpleasant parts of flying. But the cancer is spreading to buses and trains. The TSA’s Visible Intermodal Protection and Response (VIPR) teams “detain and search citizens at railroad stations, bus stations, ferries, car tunnels, ports, subways, truck weigh stations, rest areas, and special events.” (via) According to the TSA News Blog:

“VIPR teams periodically descend on transportation hubs to conduct “random” searches, as they did in Tennessee; in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky; in Des Moines, Iowa; in Tampa, Florida; in Sacramento, California; and perhaps most notoriously, in Savannah, Georgia, where train passengers were separated from their luggage and body-searched after they got off the train. Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor hit the roof when he found out and forbade the agency from ever setting foot in an Amtrak station without permission again. VIPR teams also operate in the New York City subway and in other cities, where, according to the TSA, they ‘surge into a transit agency.’…TSA head John Pistole recently testified before Congress that the TSA ‘conducted more than 8,000 VIPR operations in the past 12 months, including more than 3,700 operations in mass-transit and passenger-railroad venues.’” (via)

According to the TSA, VIPR teams have conducted 60,000 searches over the past six years, targeting train and bus passengers, among others. Imagining a world beyond dirty aviation also means imagining a world beyond an overreaching security state that imagines that terrorists are plotting to attack Greyhound buses.

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About Anirvan Chatterjee

Anirvan Chatterjee is a bibliophile, technologist, and climate activist from Berkeley, California.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “TSA hits American trains and buses

  1. A third strip search victim, Linda Kallish, 66, of Boynton Beach, came forward this afternoon, recounting the same experience at JFK. This is at least the seventh reported TSA strip search of a passenger this year including the strip search of Shoshana Hebshi in Detroit on September 11th. In that incident TSA acknowledged that the search was recorded.

    These reports raise some serious questions about the extent of the TSA abuses occurring in our airports. TSA has repeatedly denied these types of abuses occur and usually blame the victim. This is the sort of response that one would expect from a rapist, not a Federal agency.

    Pulling down a person’s pants and underwear would meet most definitions of a strip search despite TSA’s attempt to qualify the term. How many others have gone unreported? This agency has been flagrantly assaulting people for a year now and has only been emboldened by their ability to get away with even the most egregious violations of basic standards of decency. The screeners and supervisors in these incidents must be prosecuted for what is clearly a criminal offense.

    How extreme must these TSA assaults become before Congress demands that this be stopped? Will they be permitted to water-board passengers next? Perhaps a few random beatings or even a executions, all in the name of an “unpredictable screening policy” will be acceptable to Congress.

    There have been thousands of complaints of strip searches, groping, inappropriate comments and other abuses yet TSA contends that “proper procedure was followed” in each case. It’s peculiar how they are never wrong.

    This is the same agency that has had 62 screeners arrested for serious crimes, including one for murder and 10 charged with child sex crimes. This agency is obviously out of control and needs to be replaced, it is clearly too flawed to be reformed.

    Those who support this sort of abuse are disgusting and endanger the liberties of us all. Most are TSA paid trolls and don’t deserve any respect from anyone. They are obviously too fearful to function in the real world and are part of the problem.

    bit.ly/TravelUndergroundTSAabuses

    Posted by fisher1949 | December 5, 2011, 7:38 pm

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