Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The TSA isn't just for airports anymore.

Imagine this, you just got out of a football game in Charlotte and are racing to catch the train back home to Atlanta. Only you get stopped by three men with automatic weapons and a trained police dog. Then you are grilled about who you are and where you are going.  Or maybe you are about to board a subway home after work.  Or on the gang plank to the cruise ship for your vacation.  Or going into a NASCAR race.  Or even taking a ferry to tht Outer Banks.  Or just about any place else nowadays.  What's more, the TSA admits there is no evidence that any of these activities ever stopped a terrorist act.  Nor did putting portable metal detectors up and testing for explosive residue to "screen" passengers luggage at a greyhound bus terminal. I think that the two reasons why the TSA is engaging in these futile exercises can be found in an article in today's LA Times. First, the TSA just submitted a budget requesting an almost 25% increase in non-aviation personnel. The good Director has seen an opportunity to expand her fiefdom at you expense. The second reason is a little more subtle:
But critics say that without a clear threat, the TSA checkpoints are merely political theater. Privacy advocates worry that the agency is stretching legal limits on the government's right to search U.S. citizens without probable cause — and with no proof that the scattershot checkpoints help prevent attacks.

"It's a great way to make the public think you are doing something," said Fred H. Cate, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, who writes on privacy and security. "It's a little like saying, 'If we start throwing things up in the air, will they hit terrorists?' ''

After admitting that the intrusions had never stopped anything, one TSA official gave as an alternative justification that it helped boost public confidence. Let me translate that for you: it's great for Obama's re-election because the public, at our expense, is reminded of what a great job his administration is doing to protect us while at the same time scaring them which has historically boosted re-election chances.

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