Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bag Searches on Metro Start

Metro has launched a new program of radom “voluntary” bag searches:

The inspections over the far-flung transit network, which has 86 rail stations and 12,000 bus stops, will be conducted by several dozen officers at most. Metro’s trains and buses carry more than 1.2 million passengers every weekday, and officials acknowledge the limitations of the plan.

This from a chat from the Washington Post’s transit guy:

Q.Isn’t “Baggage Checks” a misrepresentation of what they’re doing?

From what I can gather they’re only swabbing the outside unless it turns up positive - seems to me to be a reasonably non-invasive process that would take no more than a couple of moments if, and only if, you happen to get selected. It’s not like you’re going through a TSA-style pat-down...

A. Robert Thomson :

That’s a fair statement, and I’d like to make a couple of points.

Yes, this program is somewhat different from the program announced two years ago, at least on the surface.

It starts, as I just said, with a uniformed officer with a gun and a big dog asking you if you’d like to submit to an inspection of your property. Then you’re taken over to a security table where -- at least in this morning’s version -- a federal TSA officer swabs your bag, looking for the presence of something that could be used as an explosive.

If the test is positive, they’re almost certainly going to examine the contents of your bag and question you. (What would you think of them if they didn’t do that?)

None of what I’m describing here meets my definition of “non-invasive.”

I have to say I completely agree with Thomson.

How exactly does a small handful of police officers doing this going to deter a terrorist? Seems to me all they’d have to do is send someone ahead to see if a search is happening. Have that person come back and say a search is happening and then move on to the next station. Or the terrorist could just look into the station and see if a search was happening. If a search was happening, again just move on to the next station. I like the term many people are calling this: security theater.

Also the notion this is voluntary is a joke. If you say no to the search you may be further questioned and won't be allowed to ride. So exactly how is this voluntary.

Once again I'm reminded of Benjamin Franklin's quote on freedom:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Any search no matter how well intentioned, without probable cause or suspicion of criminal activity and a warrant signed by a judge violates the 4th amendment. Refusing to be searched doesn't mean you have something to hide, but instead may be standing on your Constitutional rights. Instances like this is why Ole Ben Franklin said what he did in your quote. Submitting to this type thing makes you no safer and takes some of your liberty away.