TSA bus patrol coming to Houston

Old Apr 18, 12, 8:06 am
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TSA bus patrol coming to Houston

This is indeed frightening if true. I tried to find this story from a more reputable source, and found only one other hit. Is that more covering for the police state by the MSM? Either way, I'm curious why the Houston PD and TSA think they have a right to search peoples bags on a bus. While the courts have been bending over backwards to appease the TSA, I think this is one instance where they may not get their way.


http://www.infowars.com/tsa-to-searc...houston-buses/
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Old Apr 18, 12, 8:50 am
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Courts have already ruled the NYPD's subway bag searches to be constitutional.

http://www.nyclu.org/case/macwade-v-...search-program

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1252582.html

After taking those submissions under consideration and hearing closing arguments, the District Court issued an opinion in which it concluded that the Program was constitutional pursuant to the special needs exception. In its analysis, the District Court determined that the Program served a special need because it aimed to prevent, through deterrence and detection, a terrorist attack on the subways.
Never mind that in a 24/7 subway system with thousands of entrances, many not even staffed, there is absolutely no deterrence by these searches.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 9:06 am
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I did not know that there was terrorism in Houston. Have to keep away from that City. Phew, glad to see that the TSA are going to keep the Citizens of Houston safe!
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Old Apr 18, 12, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by saulblum View Post
Courts have already ruled the NYPD's subway bag searches to be constitutional.

http://www.nyclu.org/case/macwade-v-...search-program

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1252582.html



Never mind that in a 24/7 subway system with thousands of entrances, many not even staffed, there is absolutely no deterrence by these searches.
Yes, but that ruling was narrow one. In that instance, it was right after the London and Madrid attacks and the NYPD claimed that there was a extremely elevated risk of terrorism on underground transportation at the time. I don't think the TSA or Houston PD could make the same claim for city buses.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 9:40 am
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Originally Posted by VelvetJones View Post
Yes, but that ruling was narrow one. In that instance, it was right after the London and Madrid attacks and the NYPD claimed that there was a extremely elevated risk of terrorism on underground transportation at the time. I don't think the TSA or Houston PD could make the same claim for city buses.
Much as the NY court deferred to the "experts" at the NYPD, I have little hope that any court would rule against bag searches on public transportation. Besides, any police department or TSA would argue that a bomb did go off on a bus as part of the 2005 London attacks.

Face it: public transportation is viewed as second-class in this country, outside of a very select areas such as NY. As long as commuters in their own cars are not touched -- even the Tennessee and other highway VIPR "exercises" involved trucks and weigh stations, not private cars -- there is little hope of pushback against the TSA creeping outside airports. And even if regular searches of private cars did begin, have no doubt that the "anything for safety" crowd would be out in full force.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 10:23 am
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I guess word of the latest brazen action by the TSA is starting to spread. I find it disturbing that most, if not all, of the mainstream anti-TSA articles come from outside the US.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...s-police-state
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Old Apr 18, 12, 10:30 am
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From the agency's own mouth --

http://blogs.ridemetro.org/blogs/wri...uccessful.aspx

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas District 18), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, called this a new era for the TSA, and a new era for surface transportation security.

"We're looking to make sure that the lady I saw walking with a cane...knows that METRO cares as much about her as we do about building the light rail," said Jackson Lee at the news conference.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 10:31 am
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Legally, there are two issues that I see:

TSA is not law enforcement and has zero powers to search or detain or arrest except where you give them permission to do so - ie the signage at the airport stating your presence at the checkpoint provides consent (while you can tell the TSA to buzz off if you're in the terminal non-sterile area). NYPD is a police agency and has far more powers than TSA, so the NY situation is different - and even those searches have limits and you can refuse by leaving the subway station.

Having said that, while public transit is "public", it's not public property and the transit authority who owns the buses can make their own rule that you must consent to a TSA search or leave the bus if you refuse - or even be banned from using their buses if you refuse to cooperate. If the transit authority is the one driving this initiative (vs TSA just showing up and telling the transit authority they will be doing searches), they will probably make it a condition of riding the bus - but if the latter, you might be in a better position to tell the screener to buzz off and still remain on the bus and there is nothing the screener can do about it unless they have a police escort who steps in - and in that case, you could file a complaint or suit against the police in the absence of a 'consensual' policy from the transit authority.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 10:51 am
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
Legally, there are two issues that I see:

TSA is not law enforcement and has zero powers to search or detain or arrest except where you give them permission to do so - ie the signage at the airport stating your presence at the checkpoint provides consent (while you can tell the TSA to buzz off if you're in the terminal non-sterile area). NYPD is a police agency and has far more powers than TSA, so the NY situation is different - and even those searches have limits and you can refuse by leaving the subway station.

Having said that, while public transit is "public", it's not public property and the transit authority who owns the buses can make their own rule that you must consent to a TSA search or leave the bus if you refuse - or even be banned from using their buses if you refuse to cooperate. If the transit authority is the one driving this initiative (vs TSA just showing up and telling the transit authority they will be doing searches), they will probably make it a condition of riding the bus - but if the latter, you might be in a better position to tell the screener to buzz off and still remain on the bus and there is nothing the screener can do about it unless they have a police escort who steps in - and in that case, you could file a complaint or suit against the police in the absence of a 'consensual' policy from the transit authority.
But this isn't the 1920's anymore. Transit agencies pretty much everywhere in this country are public authorities, not privately owned. Yes, there are certain conditions of being in the space -- e.g. paying your fare, no boomboxes -- but those do not negate basic Constitutional protections.

In addition, the "TSA not being law enforcement" line is moot, because every time I have seen TSOs outside the airport -- Boston and NY subways, Amtrak stations -- they have been accompanied by local LEOs that have jurisdiction in the relevant space.

I'd be very curious to know where these bag searches on Houston's buses were taking place. One of the main points that contributed to the ruling of their legality on the NY subways was that riders could decline the search and walk away. (Never mind that numerous stations have three or more entrances.) If TSOs and local police were roaming buses and searching the bags of passengers already on the bus, the option to walk away does not apply, and I'd love to see a court challenge.

Of course, the even larger issue is, what is the threat these searches are mitigating? Of the billions upon billions of public bus rides that have been taken in the past decade worldwide, how many have ended in a bombing?

Meanwhile Houston remains one of the worst cities for being a pedestrian --

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-tr...-t-1639961.php

So where's the true threat here to non-drivers?
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Old Apr 18, 12, 11:11 am
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Originally Posted by saulblum View Post
But this isn't the 1920's anymore. Transit agencies pretty much everywhere in this country are public authorities, not privately owned. Yes, there are certain conditions of being in the space -- e.g. paying your fare, no boomboxes -- but those do not negate basic Constitutional protections.

In addition, the "TSA not being law enforcement" line is moot, because every time I have seen TSOs outside the airport -- Boston and NY subways, Amtrak stations -- they have been accompanied by local LEOs that have jurisdiction in the relevant space.

I'd be very curious to know where these bag searches on Houston's buses were taking place. One of the main points that contributed to the ruling of their legality on the NY subways was that riders could decline the search and walk away. (Never mind that numerous stations have three or more entrances.) If TSOs and local police were roaming buses and searching the bags of passengers already on the bus, the option to walk away does not apply, and I'd love to see a court challenge.

Of course, the even larger issue is, what is the threat these searches are mitigating? Of the billions upon billions of public bus rides that have been taken in the past decade worldwide, how many have ended in a bombing?

Meanwhile Houston remains one of the worst cities for being a pedestrian --

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-tr...-t-1639961.php

So where's the true threat here to non-drivers?
One other interesting legal aspect of this. Courts have ruled for cursory bag inspections when looking for explosives, but that is it. Yet, according to the article both drug sniffing and explosives detection dogs were in use. The courts have ruled against general drug sweeps outside of border crossing. Granted, cops still do this sort of thing all of the time, but since this is highly publicized I'd be curious if there are any sort of repercussions from it.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 11:15 am
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Nobody takes the bus here in Houston... mass transit is a bit of a joke here.

That being said, it's an obvious drug sweep. And if I ever do have to take a bus for some reason (shuttle to the Golf Tournament or something) and they try it, they'll get a great big eff ewe.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 11:17 am
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Originally Posted by VelvetJones View Post
One other interesting legal aspect of this. Courts have ruled for cursory bag inspections when looking for explosives, but that is it. Yet, according to the article both drug sniffing and explosives detection dogs were in use. The courts have ruled against general drug sweeps outside of border crossing. Granted, cops still do this sort of thing all of the time, but since this is highly publicized I'd be curious if there are any sort of repercussions from it.
I know nothing about Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, but she comes across as a fear-mongering "anything for safety" idiot in the Metro press release. And the fact that she's a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee gives me the chills.

"We're looking to make sure that the lady I saw walking with a cane...knows that METRO cares as much about her as we do about building the light rail."

Yep, we gotta be sure that the big bad terrorist men don't bomb the little old lady with a cane.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 11:20 am
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Originally Posted by JoeBas View Post
Nobody takes the bus here in Houston... mass transit is a bit of a joke here.

That being said, it's an obvious drug sweep. And if I ever do have to take a bus for some reason (shuttle to the Golf Tournament or something) and they try it, they'll get a great big eff ewe.
Exactly. There'd be a backlash if the agency came out and simply said, "we will be searching riders' bags for drugs".

But couch it as an anti-terror policy and it becomes much more palatable to the masses.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 11:30 am
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Originally Posted by VelvetJones View Post
I guess word of the latest brazen action by the TSA is starting to spread. I find it disturbing that most, if not all, of the mainstream anti-TSA articles come from outside the US.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...s-police-state
While I tend to agree that the relative silence within the US is disturbing, I would like to point out a few things about the source (which I consider to be 'my' English language newspaper)

- The author of the piece is American (or at least grew up in America)
- Comment is Free is an online public comment section
- the Guardian is ranked as one of the top 5 online newspaper sites in the world, and has a worldwide audience
- the Guardian is left-leaning

I wouldn't consider it just a UK newspaper in 2012; the readership and the voices are international
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Old Apr 18, 12, 12:11 pm
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Originally Posted by saulblum View Post
Much as the NY court deferred to the "experts" at the NYPD, I have little hope that any court would rule against bag searches on public transportation. Besides, any police department or TSA would argue that a bomb did go off on a bus as part of the 2005 London attacks.
That would be countered simply by the fact that the only reason he was on the bus on 7/7 was because the Tube had already been completely shut down, so he found another target, which was not his first choice. He was going to set it off somewhere. Although we may have WTMD and NoS in our airports, we don't have random bag searches on public transport. God forbid we ever do.
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