Next, rubber gloves at the supermarket checkout
October 23, 2011 3:28 AM   Subscribe

People generally associate the TSA with airport security…but now , starting in Tennessee, we have moved on to other forms of transportation, such as highways, buses and railways That's why Tennessee is the first State to partner with TSA to do random checks on highways.
posted by twoleftfeet (95 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
can i haz imigreyshuhn control?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:34 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tennessee is one of those "red states" that are all about "small government", right?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:34 AM on October 23, 2011 [70 favorites]


When I first saw the post, I thought it was for all vehicles. It's just a matter of time until it is.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 3:35 AM on October 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Someone might try to drive a bus into the next World Trade Center... or, worse yet, a train.
posted by XMLicious at 3:36 AM on October 23, 2011 [22 favorites]


I see trouble brewing.
posted by phunniemee at 3:37 AM on October 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


That TSA checkpoint sign CANNOT BE FOR REAL.
can it?
Do I even need to explain why?

posted by iamkimiam at 3:41 AM on October 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


That TSA checkpoint sign CANNOT BE FOR REAL.

That is the sign for the National Safe Place program, modified to its hilarious conclusion.
posted by phunniemee at 3:45 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you watch the video, you'll understand the immense risks involved. The video clearly shows that a driver had to secure a loose barrel. Had that driver not tied down that barrel, who knows what kind of terrorist damage might have ensued.

This is a good use of resources, and I applaud our officials for allocating funds for this.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:52 AM on October 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


POLICE STATE OR BUST!
posted by Meatbomb at 3:53 AM on October 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


...and the hoooome of the braaaaaaaaave....
posted by pompomtom at 3:55 AM on October 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Looks like it's mostly at the weigh stations. Well, whatever.

Maybe they can relieve those guys who hang out on I-40W outside of Memphis in large groups of white SUVs.
posted by jquinby at 3:58 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


VIPR? Seriously? Can they please stop using anti-terrorist forces for busting drugs? It's the pretext that bugs me so much. Why can't they just call it poking our gloved hands all up in your business? Or even better, the Bureau of up in Business, or BOUIB.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 4:00 AM on October 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


I can't believe how unpatriotic you all are! It is your duty as an American citizen to submit! Who knows how many terrorist attacks have been prevented by, for example, random colonoscopies! Fear is true freedom!
posted by likeso at 4:07 AM on October 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm just in it for the patdowns.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:10 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Who knows how many terrorist attacks have been prevented by, for example, random colonoscopies!

[Insert Weapons of Ass Destruction joke here.]
posted by phunniemee at 4:10 AM on October 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


*chokes with horrible laughter*

Also did anyone catch the TSA spokesperson guy saying that terrorists aren't on airplanes anymore? Does that mean they are pulling the TSA inspectors out of the airports?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:17 AM on October 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh cool their best example of a successful roadside stop is Timothy McVeigh, SEVENTY-SIX DECADES AGO!
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:18 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


The thing is, really, that Al-Qaeda is dead. There really isn't such a genuine threat from foreigners attempting to hurt the U.S. anymore. Really, it's hard to accept, but that wicked witch is dead.

Domestic terrorism is still a real threat. Timothy McVeigh was a domestic terrorist. There could be more domestic terrorism in the near future because some of the 99% might get violently angry at the 1%, or something like that. But there isn't a logistical-militaristic way to keep that from happening. Random checkpoints with bomb-sniffing dogs won't prevent a popular uprising.

If you try to stop people from being angry at you it doesn't help you understand why they're angry and if you don't understand why they're angry at you then you can't stop them from being angry at you.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:35 AM on October 23, 2011 [14 favorites]


Our government is firing teachers, policemen, and firemen; they're cutting welfare and unemployment insurance and education funding; they can't house the veterans; and yet somehow they always have more money for tax cuts and more money for the TSA and more money for the banks.

This would be comedy if it wasn't happening in our lifetimes.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:50 AM on October 23, 2011 [74 favorites]


Ugh. I switched to driving vacations because of the TSA toads at the airport. Now what am I going to do?
posted by Larry Duke at 4:56 AM on October 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Aw, c'mon. The US Government has to do something with those vast piles of spare cash it has swilling around.
posted by unSane at 5:08 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh cool their best example of a successful roadside stop is Timothy McVeigh,...

Except that it wasn't successful, and probably wouldn't be even if he drove into one of these Gestapoid checkpoints. Are we ready to have our kids patted down before they get on a bus?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:14 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Momma always said if you can't say something without sputtering with incoherent rage, don't say nothin at all.
posted by odinsdream at 5:32 AM on October 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm convinced that the TSA is another one of Philip Zimbardo's radical psychology experiments. He's up on a mountain with a powerful telescope, peering down, scribbling furiously as some perfume-clerk-cum-federal-security-agent with two days of on-the-job training barks orders at the patriotically deferential throngs. Research grants galore!
posted by milquetoast at 5:35 AM on October 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


Are random searches even legal? I mean, I guess they can always *ask*. But you can decline, right? They have no warrant. But even if you decline, you still had to stop, get out, etc.
posted by DU at 5:45 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The courts have upheld random searches at DUI checkpoints in the name of safety, as long as they use some kind of pseudo-random method (e.g., every x vehicle). Since these searches are both commercial vehicles subject to inspection and "random" and in the name of safety, they would probably be upheld by a court. Would courts accept random searches of all vehicles in the name of safety? It's a closer call, but my guess (FWIW) is yes.
posted by fogovonslack at 5:50 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Swaggering idiots.
posted by spitbull at 5:56 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, will someone explain what the TSA is doing in drug searches? Really, how is that legal?
posted by etaoin at 6:01 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to really worry that we would turn into the culture of Orwell's 1984. Lately, though, it's become obvious that we are actually turning into the culture of Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
posted by localroger at 6:02 AM on October 23, 2011 [34 favorites]


Oh, they're just setting precedent with commercial vehicles and big drug scores so that later on they can inspect rental cube vans "just to be safe, sir". In just a few short years they'll be pulling you over and "temporarily detaining" you goddamn hippies for questioning about those heretical bumper stickers on your hybrids. "Frank/Warren '16? Open the door, raise both hands and step out of your vehicle, sir."

Baby steps, citizen.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:13 AM on October 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Drugs are terrorism too, m'kay?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:14 AM on October 23, 2011


I've been traveling across this great land of ours with my little dog Charlie, and there a few things more comforting than the internal checkpoints. It's an excuse for me to get out of the car and have a cup of coffee. The kind gentlemen in their uniforms politely ask me for my papers. I talk with them. I ask about the baseball scores and the weather. We joke about the state of the economy. I show them my papers, they let me move on. They know I'm not a terrorist.

At the next truck stop I eat bacon and eggs, and feed a biscuit to Charlie. Me and Charlie get back in the station wagon and move on down the highway. I'm not a terrorist. But Charlie is.

We pull over at the next town and Charlie shits on the rich peoples' lawns.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:23 AM on October 23, 2011 [67 favorites]


There's been a number of times where people have attacked Greyhound bus drivers in the last ten years; this TSA story comes almost exactly 10 years after the 2001 Greyhound bus attack in Tennessee, where a person with a history of mental illness slit the driver's throat with a utility knife, killing six and himself. This occurred shortly after 9/11 prompting fears of terrorism and temporarily shutting down Greyhound services nationwide, but ultimately prompting no changes in security. The following year another mentally ill individual attacked a bus driver in California with scissors, killing two and forcing Greyhound to install shields to protect the drivers. A year ago a man attempted to wrest control of the bus from the driver, causing it to run off the road but there were no fatalities. and lastly, while not really hijacking/terrorism, there's the guy who decapitated and starting eating (!) his seatmate on a Greyhound bus in Canada in 2008.

Those are the most notable vaguely "terrorism related" incidents on buses in the last ten years, what they all have in common is: 1) they were committed by mentally disturbed individuals, all immigrants*, 2) the weapons used were a utility knife, scissors, fist & feet, and a knife- all of which are allowed on buses, 3) None of these individuals would likely have been stopped by this TSA initiative (which seems like a pretext for drug searches more than anything) as they had broken no rules. Mentally disturbed individuals with knives are like 30-40% of Greyhound's clientele and this is just a flimsy rationale for our security apparatus pissing money away.


*not xenophobic, but would really like to know why they target Greyhound while our domestically raised mentally ill individuals focus their attentions elsewhere
posted by Challahtronix at 6:27 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mentally disturbed individuals with knives are like 30-40% of Greyhound's clientele

They should get a group discount. Slashing fares!
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:37 AM on October 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


They didn't mention in the video that every TSA worker has been made an honorary judge, so they can all pass warrants back and forth among themselves. It's all totally legal now.
posted by jwhite1979 at 6:41 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoever put the images at the end of the article has a great sense of humor. After the fake tsa sign we have officers demonstrating 'the finish off' and the two finger position for body cavity penetration. Are these last two from a sexy agents calendar? If so, where can I get it?
posted by shushufindi at 6:48 AM on October 23, 2011


After successfully ruining air travel, the TSA redeploys its efforts towards other modes of transportation. Because liberty won't be safe until everybody just has to stay home...
posted by Skeptic at 6:50 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


It looks like the cannibalism thing happened in, of all places, Canada.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:54 AM on October 23, 2011


So, where exactly is that fine line between a state and a fascist state?
posted by infini at 6:54 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


To search a vehicle without the driver's permission, you must have probable cause for suspicion. Does that random truck driver count as probable cause? My wife and I were on I-24 this weekend. She has a taillight out. Bet she is a terrorist or some other druggie/hippie/immigrant/democrat/teacher.
posted by isawthat at 7:02 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Their web site can't even coherently explain their mission as it relates to road travel (over-the-road motorcoaches?)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:03 AM on October 23, 2011


Among Greyhound's prohibited items: "materials with a disagreeable odor." Does this include people?
posted by desjardins at 7:06 AM on October 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the 2001 Greyhound bus attack Wiki article: However, following a very similar incident nearly one year later, Greyhound Lines installed shields on most of its newer coaches that, even if forced open, prevent someone from easily reaching the driver.

I'm fairly unclear as to the point Challahtronix is trying to make, but Greyhound seems to have figured out a solution without involving the state security apparatus. (While on Greyhound I have wondered whether their little barracade would somehow prove dangerous in some emergency situation. Probably not fatally, at least not to anyone but the driver.) I assume you're as likely to be decapitated by a random stranger while sitting just about anywhere as while on Greyhound. Greyhound just happens to be a place with a name where one often sits next to random strangers. But... churches, park benches, city buses, restaurants (at an adjacent table), etc.
posted by hoyland at 7:09 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yet another Southern State whose economy tanks after chasing out their non-white immigrants (legal and illegal). I'll remember this when the fine gentlemen from Tennessee beg Washington for relief.
posted by Renoroc at 7:10 AM on October 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Finally, an answer to those smug people who say they never go anywhere they can't drive when you complain of airport security! Thank you, TSA, for your unending efforts to ensure every form of transportation is equally unpleasant and demeaning.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:14 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Challahtronix, I always think of the Canadian incident as the Wendigo spirit possessing the man up on the lonely lonely plains of Alberta...
posted by symbioid at 7:14 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was thinking about this - along with prison guard jobs and similar police-state employment - and realized that they're basically jobs programs for the right. We can't create real jobs programs because that would be communist or something, so we'll create shitty gulag-monitoring jobs (and these jobs seem to be pretty awful) and pay for the employment of mostly white, mostly-right-wing-working-class people that way, conveniently cementing their loyalty to the Republicans who run the programs that keep them employed. (Because seriously, I don't blame folks for taking these awful jobs when there are no others; I'd probably do the same thing.) Also, conveniently reinforcing these people's notions about race, crime and immigration to maintain a reservoir of right-wing ideology.

See, I remember back during the Cold War when a gulag-like prison system, torture and "show us your papers" were what the bad guys did - and I remember being called a communist by teachers and peers for innocently questioning some of the ideology of the time. I really resent being played - it was just a shuck to get us to line up behind US capitalism, not any actual commitment to fair trials and actual democracy.
posted by Frowner at 7:15 AM on October 23, 2011 [91 favorites]


Me too Frowner! Those were the days my friend! Now they are more than back with a vengeance.
I don't like going much of anywhere anymore.
My son will not allow me to ride Greyhound. The various incidents made him afraid for me. I hate flying. I personally never had a TSA agent be rude to me. I do think however having TSA everywhere is a bad idea.
Fix the very real problems our country has, care properly for the mentally ill, and you remove the reasons domestic terrorism even is a thing.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:26 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


No surprise Tennessee is leading the way with this innovative program.

There's a lot of expertise there in patrolling highways. They've been very aggressive in pulling folks over and searching for cash. I guess they figure they may as well search for "terrorists" as well, while they're at it.

Here's a link to a blog post on The Atlantic about the searches done by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Link to original story.

Pull quote from The Atlantic: "In eastbound lanes, the traffic flow includes vehicles importing illegal drugs from Mexico. Ninety percent of the time, police ignore that side of the highway, because the cars traveling westbound are carrying cash back toward Mexico."

These folks know what they're doing. There's no doubt about that.

"Army of Agents on Wheels!"
posted by BigSky at 7:29 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is progress. Now that good people in Tennessee can experience what is it like to be a Palestinian trying to travel in the West Bank, maybe they'll begin to understand what all the complaining is about.
posted by three blind mice at 7:37 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was thinking about this - along with prison guard jobs and similar police-state employment - and realized that they're basically jobs programs for the right.

See also: US military expenditure
posted by unSane at 7:39 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, where exactly is that fine line between a state and a fascist state?

You step over it as you enter the naked body scanner.
posted by localroger at 7:40 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crime control as jobs program is at most bipartisan. The biggest deals (like the legendary prison guard deal struck in California by Gray Davis and Shel Silver's police pension deals in New York) have had Democrats in the helm.
posted by MattD at 8:03 AM on October 23, 2011


funnily enough, I was thinking about taking greyhound this next semester -- if my clinical placement is in a city like Knoxville or Memphis, wondering if it might be more cost-effective to take the bus back each week for classes and use my free city bus pass while in town.

i can't see this not being extended to all vehicles. this is also a bummer because i have been pulled over a couple of times now for "suspiciousness" -- nothing like west coast license places (the registration lasts way longer than TN's, i am not changing my damn plates and paying more $). the privilege of 1. being white 2. going to a fancy school and having my parking pass on the windshield saved me a lot of problems.

this pisses me off so much. actually, i think i'm sort of outrage-burned-out on TN. it's not like you can't take pocket knives and stuff onto greyhound. i could use a guitar string to strangle the shit out of someone. this isn't going to do diddly shit. also, if it's greyhound, people are just gonna be like "whatever, it's just mentally ill folks and illegal immigrants!". pick on these folks first and shit, who cares. that's what irritates me the most, i think.

also: the "see something say something" creeps me the hell out. snitches get stitches, god dammit.
posted by circle_b at 8:05 AM on October 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


And Obama wept for there were no more bad guys to kill.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2011


I get the sense that the people who authorized this are the type to say, "Well, if you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't have a problem with a random search."
posted by jocelmeow at 8:12 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I switched to driving vacations because of the TSA toads at the airport. Now what am I going to do?

I'd recommend that you stop combining your vacations with hauling a load in a semi, and just drive a car.

I get the worry that this would be extended to passenger cars, but right now all you're seeing is that trucks that for good reason are subject to frequent and intrusive safety inspections, that for good reason have to carry manifests of what they're carrying and logs of their activity, that for good reason have to submit to frequent inspection at weigh stations... are being inspected.

And while I get the worry, a big part of why TSA can do this is that they're inspecting vehicles that are already subject to inspection. Truckers already have very little privacy to invade.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:19 AM on October 23, 2011


It's funny, in NY, after the London Tube bombings they had "random" bag inspections, and funny I have never got my bag inspected even when there is a table by the turnstiles. If you look pissed off like you are running late and don't even stop and make eye contact, you will probably not be asked to submit to inspection. Most of the cops seem to be standing around jawing with each other.

I say this because the futility of security theater has never been greater, but as others point out, while our freedom of movement has been whittled away, this is a huge public works jobs program, a sort of security socialism, for white rural people.

I've been told that the biggest lobby AGAINST marijuana legalization in New York State (and probably every state) is the prison guard union. Because locking up people for doobies means jobs, jobs, jobs, for hard-working Americans.
posted by xetere at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, let's get this straight.

Legal: Local State officials regulating vehicles using public roads.

Unconstitutional: Federal officials regulating vehicles on public roads, including vehicles NOT engaged in Interstate Commerce.

Legal: Licensed, heavy vehicles carrying massive loads of explosives, volatile fuel, liquid oxygen, etc.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:58 AM on October 23, 2011


It's funny, in NY, after the London Tube bombings they had "random" bag inspections

What's really funny is that we never had them in London, after the London Tube bombings.
posted by rhymer at 9:09 AM on October 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I think about America as a whole these days, the mental dialogue just kind of goes:

Fuck. Fuck. FUCK.

And this is why the liberal kids of our generation need to get our asses into politics, stat. Because the conservative douchbags will continue to stack the cards against the majority, and somebody needs to oppose them. Hard.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 9:12 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


We can't create real jobs programs because that would be communist or something, so we'll create shitty gulag-monitoring jobs (and these jobs seem to be pretty awful) and pay for the employment of mostly white, mostly-right-wing-working-class people that way, conveniently cementing their loyalty to the Republicans who run the programs that keep them employed.

That's a thought I've often had when I visit prisons where my clients are incarcerated, invariably located in rural areas. Although they may avoid the "big government" stigma because so many of them have been privatized and are run by Corrections Corporation of America.
posted by jayder at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's funny about these random vehicle searches is how patently absurd they are. The scale of freight traffic on the highways is so vast, that any initiative to randomly search the vehicles can never be anything more than "security theater." At least, in air travel, there is a fair degree of uniformity in the sense that every passenger gets searched. But random searches of trucks and buses ... the plan is akin to "randomly reading pieces of mail" in hopes that one might uncover terroristic plans. Stupid and wasteful.
posted by jayder at 9:36 AM on October 23, 2011


Ugh. I switched to driving vacations because of the TSA toads at the airport. Now what am I going to do?

Simple: avoid Tennessee.

Vote with your tourist dollars. Don't visit states that try to pull this anti-American bullshit. Watch with unmitigated joy as their economies fall deeper into despair. Laugh maniacally at their ignorant electorate.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:01 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh good. Now every day can be a National Fisting Day.
posted by c13 at 10:03 AM on October 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


What's really funny is that we never had them in London, after the London Tube bombings.

That's because London has been attacked by a big league nation with a real military in recent memory (historically speaking). In the United States, two Al Qaeda wannabees with assault rifles, a brick of semtex and an inflatable boat qualifies as an existential threat these days.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:18 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, great! Now I can't go visit my mom in TN. I've already told the TSA that I won't be flying anymore. Now I get to be buggered when I drive to visit relatives. I really deplore violence, but I can't see how this ends well if the trends in this country continue. Perhaps the country will go bankrupt before it comes to blows? And about Mr. McVeigh, I've always wondered about that "random stop." Awfully lucky, don't ya think?
posted by davismbagpiper at 10:25 AM on October 23, 2011


Anyone remember this story - a woman saw a raft of $20 bills flying from the roof of a car on a Tennessee freeway and called 911. She thought perhaps the car had been involved in a robbery. Tennessee Highway Patrol issued a "be on the lookout" for the vehicle while checking to see if there had been any robberies commited in the area. The Smoak family's vehicle matched the description and was pulled over. (Mr. Smoak had accidentally left his wallet on top of his car when they'd stopped for gas earlier, which is where those $20 bills were spewing from.) With three of the family members kneeling on the freeway in handcuffs, the wife begged the cops to close the car doors so that their dogs wouldn't get out. Cops ignored the request and when General Patton emerged, tail wagging, he trotted toward Trooper Eric Hall's flashlight beam (the Smoak's son often played with Patton using a flashlight) and Hall promptly aimed his rifle and killed the pooch. When it was ultimately determined that no robbery had been committed, the Smoaks were uncuffed, handed the corpse of their pet, and sent on their way.

I actually used to be pretty proud of this country and the freedoms we had that citizens of other nations didn't, particularly a fear of the police. There was a time when the police were, in fact, here to protect and to serve and had more of a Jack Webb-like attitude of treating citizens - even suspects - respectfully and fairly. The steroid-enhanced power-hungry cops of today are a completely different story....in some cities, you can't get hired as a police officer if you score too high on their IQ test. And these are the men and women that are provided with guns and Tazers while making life-or-death decisions in a split second. The "see something, say something" rule of thumb will turn out to be nothing more than a Salem-era witch hunt, with folks squealing on their neighbors at the slightest provocation.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:32 AM on October 23, 2011 [20 favorites]


Jefferson would be weeping.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do the bomb-sniffing dogs sniff out fuel-tanker trucks?

Cos that would be useful, as I always get those confused with milk trucks.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:04 AM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I’m honestly shocked at the standard of journalism put on display in the posted TV report, article, and the references linked there. They are all just parroting official propaganda. Where the hell is the outrage? If this is representative of the American media, I just don’t know what to say.
posted by wachhundfisch at 11:05 AM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure about the TSA and related organizations being mostly there for *white* right-wingers; it seems like the security people I've encountered at airports have been racially mixed, if not weighted towards people of color. I'd love to see stats on the racial makeup of TSA. I think they're such shitty jobs that the people that end up taking them tend to be marginalized, but that's just my guess.

There was a time when the police were, in fact, here to protect and to serve and had more of a Jack Webb-like attitude of treating citizens - even suspects - respectfully and fairly.

Unless you're a POC or gay-looking.
posted by NoraReed at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Having recently experienced the TSA and British security, the difference in attitude is stark.

I have a backpack full of chargers, cables, cellphone, batteries, etc. I'm sure on x-ray that it looks like a snarl of wire and devices.

Going through security at Heathrow, it got their attention. A very polite and apologetic policewoman asked if she could look in my bag. She did so very professionally, checking every corner and then putting everything back in place. The whole time she was apologizing profusely for delaying me.

While waiting in line at RDU for the x-ray, there was a TSA employee stalking up and down. She wore an angry expression, and was yelling at everyone; "BELTS OFF! I want NOTHING in your POCKETS! NO WALLETS! NO TICKETS! Put EVERYTHING through the MACHINE! Get your shoes OFF!", and more in that vein.
My wire-filled bag didn't get a glance.

The British security was actually looking for threats. The TSA seemed to be there to make sure you knew your place, and stayed in it.
posted by bitmage at 11:32 AM on October 23, 2011 [33 favorites]


The TSA seemed to be there to make sure you knew your place, and stayed in it.

Although it would seem that way, I thing the bad attitude of such people is a projection of knowing their place. People scared of losing their job, without any real work to do to show their competence, act this way. The TSA is a job creator, and the jobs it creates are without purpose or career advancement.

Every one of those security people, deep down inside, knows that they are a modern Colonel Bat Guano.
posted by hanoixan at 11:54 AM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Among Greyhound's prohibited items: "materials with a disagreeable odor." Does this include people?

At the driver's discretion? Yes. Anyone can be kicked off the bus. I was passing through Utah and had a transfer point at Salt Lake City. The driver refused to permit boarding for a dreadlocked white hippy dude because he "didn't like how he smelled."

This caused quite a panic among the rest of the people boarding who all looked at each other and then began sniffing themselves. "You can get kicked off for smelling bad!?" people muttered. After 2-3 days on Greyhound everyone smelled bad. It's clear that this driver was kicking the guy off for just being a hippie. He was arguably less stinky than the rest of us.

Also, security on Greyhound increased dramatically after 9/11. As in they actually started searching people - kind of. As far as I know pocket knives are no longer allowed. On the same trip as above I was in line to transfer in Denver, where they were doing carryon searches, as they were doing in most major hubs and transfer points.

The guy in front of me panicked and said "Gee, I hope they don't find my gun." to which everyone else in line said "What the fuck, man!?" and he said "I'm from St. Louis. I don't ride Greyhound without a gun.". They searched his bag briefly and found no gun, which was at the bottom of his bag under clothes. Then they stopped searching because the bus needed to board, which was fine with me because I didn't want them finding my flask, pipe or pocket knife.

Anyway, I'm not really worried about passengers of questionable mental health when I'm on Greyhound - that's more than half the ridership. What I'm worried about is catastrophic mechanical failure on worn out old buses, or drivers who like to take cat naps while driving - like our driver after Denver as we crossed Kansas. Dude was steering with his elbows with his head propped up in his hands. He nearly drifted completely off the road a dozen times while we crossed Kansas. It's like he was steering by the sound of our cries of alarm as he drifted in and out of the left hand lane.
posted by loquacious at 12:01 PM on October 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


I remember during the Cold War one of the things people would point out as an example of the horrors of life in the Soviet bloc was restrictions on internal movement.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:24 PM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


(And to be clear, there's no sign yet of a requirement for internal passports, but clearly the apparatus is in place now).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:25 PM on October 23, 2011


I’m honestly shocked at the standard of journalism put on display in the posted TV report, article, and the references linked there. They are all just parroting official propaganda. Where the hell is the outrage? If this is representative of the American media, I just don’t know what to say.

This is completely typical for our media, and yes, it is shocking. There are a handful (literally, I can't think of more than 10) of actual investigative journalists in the country.
posted by odinsdream at 12:39 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'm from St. Louis. I don't ride Greyhound without a gun."

I like the fact that he thought mentioning where he was from somehow explained his need to take a gun.
posted by delmoi at 12:55 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is an article from last August about Colorado's Finest protecting us from The Horrible Terrorists latest tool, The Flash Riot.
And, as has been seen in England, the line between peaceful protest and store-burning riot can be very narrow.
Pretty close call there. I'm sure these people would have turned Denver into a smoking crater if they could.
"It's like shouting in a dark room. You don't always know who is there," Clem said. "Because we know people organize this way, we're listening."
Indeed, Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety! I've googled it, and no one has said this on the internet yet. So I'm saying it! Now! On the Internet! GOD BLESS YOU, Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety!
While these groups may appear docile on the Internet, emotions often run high when they meet in person, and it only takes one small disagreement to turn a protest violent.

"You might get a lot of people who get upset about an issue very quickly and willing to do something with it in a moment's notice," Cotton said.
And THANK YOU, Allison M. Cotton, who teaches criminology at Metropolitan State College of Denver! Without the eternal vigilance of experts like yourself, downtown Denver would long ago have reverted to its feral, Lord-Of-The-Flies like state.
"It's on our radar," said Detective John White, a spokesman for the Denver Police Department​.
And may I say, YAY! YAY! YAY! Three cheers for the Denver Police Department!
The center started monitoring the sites in preparation for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, helping keep that event largely peaceful.

The system is not designed to prevent crowds from forming, but it does give law enforcement a chance to prepare for the worst.
Sometimes you gotta arrest people just because they're scumbags. Congratulations DPD on settling those lawsuits after 1140 days!
...Eric Rosenberg, the president of Denver Flash Mob. Since the Denver group was founded in November 2010, Rosenberg has organized about a dozen flash mobs across the city—all of them peaceful.

"They keep getting bigger," Rosenberg said.
Sure, "Eric Rosenberg" (as if that's your real name.) Just keep threatening us. Bad boy, bad boy, whatchoo gonna do when the Metropolitan State College of Denver Criminology Department comes for you?
The largest local mob he ever assembled was last Saturday, when a group of about 150 people did a choreographed dance to support same-sex marriage.
Do you know who else started out by organizing choreographed dances in support of gay marriage? At any rate, the truth here seems to have been suppressed because searching for "bloody explosive terrorist deadly riots denver aug 6 2011" doesn't return anything on YouTube.

I'm pretty sure Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety, has seen it all and he sure seems freaked out about this latest threat to our democracy. Like most concerned patriots, I'll be monitoring the situation.
posted by swell at 1:02 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


But you can decline, right? They have no warrant.

I'm sure that TSA agents, like ICE, will be retrofitted with warrant-producing cyborg organs.
posted by hattifattener at 1:19 PM on October 23, 2011


"I'm from St. Louis. I don't ride Greyhound without a gun."

I like the fact that he thought mentioning where he was from somehow explained his need to take a gun.


Actually, having spent some time at the St. Louis Greyhound station, I understand entirely.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Our government is firing teachers, policemen, and firemen; they're cutting welfare and unemployment insurance and education funding; they can't house the veterans; and yet somehow they always have more money for tax cuts and more money for the TSA and more money for the banks.

Contractors Pitch Spy Tech to Cops: Facing U.S. budget cuts, the industry that makes drones, radar equipment, and sensors for use in Iraq and Afghanistan is looking to sell them at home to police, border patrol, and others.
posted by homunculus at 1:57 PM on October 23, 2011


Larry Duke wrote: Ugh. I switched to driving vacations because of the TSA toads at the airport. Now what am I going to do?

Personally, I would say "I am recording this encounter. I do not consent to a search. Am I free to go?" The Supreme Court eviscerated our rights in airports, but they have yet to do so on the road. The police have broader authority to search your vehicle than they do your house, for example, but they still must have reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior on your part. (or consent)
posted by wierdo at 2:08 PM on October 23, 2011


The police have broader authority to search your vehicle than they do your house, for example, but they still must have reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior on your part.

Where I live, if you are stopped and decline to take a breathalyzer test, you automatically lose your driver's license for one year.

So whether you're lucky enough to be Caucasian when driving or flying, or a local who knows where and when the state police tend to run their traffic stops, or are wealthy enough to afford the premium line at the airport safety check, innocence is not a function of evidence, but of privilege and the discretion and disposition of whichever official is handling you at the time.
posted by at by at 3:09 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't visit states that try to pull this anti-American bullshit

I agree with the notion but the idea that it is "anti-American" is utterly foreign to me, and not just because I'm from Australia. America has been "anti-American" for decades now so evidently this is the new American. Which I believe is pronounced "Amurikey".
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:21 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The term anti-American can only make sense in this context if you treat it as a rhetorical appeal to historical values no longer practised, or if you read it as anti-citizen, for certainly it seems that the state is turning on the people.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


'murikans
posted by The Whelk at 5:27 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It looks like the cannibalism thing happened in, of all places, Canada.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:54 AM on October 23 [+] [!]


You got something to say, kaibutsu? Are we just not tasty enough for you?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:40 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Absolutely fantastic comment, Frowner. Flagged, though it's no doubt too partisan for the sidebar.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:44 PM on October 23, 2011


innocence is not a function of evidence, but of privilege and the discretion and disposition of whichever official is handling you at the time.

Welcome to one of the many manifestations of what inequality really means OR welcome to the former third world
posted by infini at 10:11 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


After watching my dad's head nearly explode every time they revealed yet another Nixon dirty trick, or a J. Edgar domestic spying episode, I'm pretty glad he didn't have to see any of this stuff. He predicted it, but I'm glad he didn't have to see it. I wish we didn't have to see it, either.

Got your Gold Star(tm) ID yet, citizen?
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:21 AM on October 24, 2011


See, here's the thing that you have to remember about the TSA, folks. They really don't want to catch terrorists. By and large, the people who work in those kind of security positions are people that are OK with doing the same thing, over and over, hundreds or even thousands of times a day, for their entire careers, which is why they get so upset and vindictive (often in bizarre ways) if something interrupts their routine. (An acquaintance of mine said that his wife had been detained by the TSA right up to the point where they almost missed their flight because she had been carrying jars of baby food for their infant son, said baby food being exempt from the liquid limits. Baby food.) They don't want to be the one who gets called on the carpet and interrogated because they missed the explosives planted in someone's artificial limb.

So, what do they do? They go where the terrorists aren't. And they'll find a warm welcome in Tennessee, which, IMO, is just as BigSky has described it: when I lived there, they were always interested in my car when it was near one of their poorly-designed intersections (say, one at which left turns where inexplicably banned), but not at all when the same car was targeted for smash-and-grab. They won't care if tourism falls off as long as they keep getting those DHS grants.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:16 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


TSA goes through woman's luggage, finds sex toy, leaves pervy note
posted by homunculus at 1:24 PM on October 24, 2011


Jeez, NewsChannel5 covered this using the title "Tennessee Becomes First State To Fight Terrorism Statewide".

There are some nice links over at slashdot covering how the TSA's VIPR bites rail, bus, and ferry passengers.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:48 PM on October 28, 2011


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