The triumph of control freaks continues to unfold like a very bad movie. We wish the electorate was paying more attention to this.
In the April 2012 edition of Independent Living, we alerted readers to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) covert and systematic expansion into covering “all forms of ground transportation… complete with traveler checkpoints and individualized tracking of cars, trains, telephones, and computers.”
This means the imposition of airport-style “security” screenings upon travelers opting for various forms of ground transportation. What future generations of Americans will be conditioned to expect as “normal” should be seen by more of us for the historic milestone that it really is: The birth of a Soviet-style internal passport system where individuals could someday be blocked from travelling if they don’t have official permission.
GOP Congress Approves Formal Birth
of Internal U.S. Travel Controls
Less than two months after alerting our paid newsletter subscribers to this possibility, we are already seeing our forecasts validated. New legislation on Capitol Hill entitled the Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act (H.R. 3140) passed the Republican-controlled House on May 30 by voice vote, laying the legal foundation for TSA’s expansion into domestic ground transportation.
While the bill itself does not authorize the expansion of passenger screening centers found at airports, it does reassign numerous TSA officers to “jurisdictions with mass transit systems in order to enhance the security of such mass transit systems by assisting Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement authorities in identifying, investigating, and otherwise interdicting persons, weapons, and contraband that pose a threat to homeland security.“
The nature of the vote itself, which was conducted as a voice vote, gives us clues into whether this is an innocuous reassignment of TSA officers and analysts or the framework for something more insidious. Voice votes, which are cast en masse verbally and therefore do not allow for a record of each legislator’s votes, are often used to obfuscate where members of Congress stand on controversial legislation.
TSA’s Airport Security Circus Not Good Enough for Washington
Comments made by the bill’s sponsor Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) reveal the true nature of this bill, “We have put in place through TSA a very elaborate system [in airports]. We all go through those metal detectors and those secondary searches. And we’ve put a lot of focus on the airlines for good reason. But we have neglected the mass transit components, generally speaking.”
This is only the latest in a series of moves aimed at expanding the reach of the TSA.
What began with metal detectors and baggage screening has been expanded by the power hungry TSA bureaucracy to include full naked-body scanners, invasive groping, behavior detection officers who watch for travelers who seem to be “stressed” by air travel, and the adding of nearly a million names to a Terror Watch List. The TSA has become an employment magnet for petty tyrants who, in some cases, appear to take sick pleasure in bossing people around.
And it’s only getting worse.
Strange, Arbitrary Decrees Foisted on Public
If you’ve gotten on a plane in the last couple years, you may have noticed some increasingly strange “requests” made by TSA airport security people. We do believe there is a purpose to this seeming madness. By making inconsistent, unreasonable, and/or odd requests of the public, the process of control and conditioning is advanced across the entire spectrum of society.
Take the ludicrous new TSA initiative to test drinks travelers have purchased from airport stores after passing through security. The only response from the TSA regarding these egregious expansions was “TSA employees have many layers of security throughout airports. Passengers may be randomly selected for additional screening measures at the checkpoint or in the gate at any time.”
The pretenses under which many of these rules were enacted are questionable. There has been significant skepticism about the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot that led to the strict requirements for bringing liquids through security.
Craig Murray, a UK diplomat familiar with the matter said, “None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many of them did not have passports.” Murray suggested that the plot may have been a complete fiction – something that Rashid Rauf told his captors while he was being interrogated in Pakistan.
Despite most of the suspects being acquitted, Department of Homeland Security and TSA bureaucrats have used this dubious plot to further expand their already burgeoning airport security apparati.
While Americans have been primarily focused on the TSA’s intrusive measures in airports, the TSA has simultaneously been laying the framework to implement similar “security” measures in ground transportation, with government checkpoints looming at every corner.
Following the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the TSA made its first move into ground transportation, citing the bombings as justification for the move. The result was the creation of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams.
The Slow, Insidious Expansion of TSA Surveillance across America
Implemented in late 2005, these VIPR teams target travelers for random screening in bus stations, car tunnels, ports, railroad stations, subways, and a multitude of other transportation systems. Despite their $109 million yearly budget, these teams, which currently number 37, have shown no meaningful contribution to the fight against terrorism – unless harassing law-abiding travelers is itself an objective.
Similarly, Forbes reported in March 2011 that documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests show the Department of Homeland Security, under whose jurisdiction the TSA falls, has been testing pilot programs to “deploy mobile scanning units that can be set up at public events and in train stations along with mobile x-ray vans capable of scanning pedestrians on city streets.”
Further, the TSA itself has been examining the viability of research proposals to bring “full-body scanners to train stations, mass transit, and public events.”
The Feds Are Road Testing a National Internal Passport System
Individually, each of these pieces may be cause for only mild concern. However, when we put these all together the picture becomes infinitely clearer.
An organization with a history of continually broadening its scope of powers has begun testing of mobile scanning units for domestic ground mass-transit systems; this same organization has slowly begun to move officers away from airports into a supposed “supporting” role in ground transportation security; all the while Congress has made an effort keep their role in this hidden from the public.
Congresswoman Speier was absolutely correct in one comment she made regarding her bill, “The writing is on the wall.” We could not agree more.