Guardian: The TSA's Tentacles SpreadSubmitted by legalizeliberty on Wed, 06/29/2011 - 14:08
by Jennifer Abel
Just as I predicted, the TSA is extending its perverted violations of privacy and liberty to all forms of mass transit.
It's eight months now since the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) abandoned its last pretence of respect for America's constitutional principles, by mandating no traveller may fly in American airspace unless TSA agents first see and/or feel said traveller's genitalia. That's not hyperbole, just a straightforward description of American law playing out in airports every day. And given America's vast size, lack of mass transit and Americans' generally short vacations from work, flying is often the only feasible way US citizens can travel from points A to B. Yet our government has decreed every such flyer submit to search procedures previously associated with playground-haunting paedophiles and prison rapists.
Eight months of apologists insisting mandatory frottage is acceptable in a free country, and it's unpatriotic and downright mean for people like me to criticise poor working-stiff TSA agents, who, after all, are merely following orders. (Though the agency apparently considers some of those orders "fringe benefits"; as I type this, the department of homeland security is hiring part-time TSA staff at Logan International Airport in Boston. The online advert calls for "transportation security officers" over the subheading "A CAREER WHERE X-RAY VISION AND FEDERAL BENEFITS COME STANDARD.")
All along, the TSA and its cowardly supporters insist my freedoms be curtailed to assuage their thumbsucking fears: "If you don't like it, don't fly!" Only now, they'll have to expand their craven mantra: "If you don't like it don't fly, don't take a train or trolley, don't ride a bus, don't board a boat or ferry, and don't drive your own car. In fact, don't go anywhere; just stay home and be thankful you live in a free country."
"Don't fly" isn't enough now that the TSA's officially moved beyond airports, and even beyond the need to invent warm, patriotic names for its behaviour: the bus-train-auto segments of America's transportation infrastructure are overseen and occasionally raided by the TSA's VIPR agents – the "visible intermodal prevention and response" programme. The creepy acronym is the only surprise; last December, I predicted the TSA would spread beyond airports, since homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano had already said she wanted searches of all American mass transit passengers.