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subway searches in NYC
July 25, 2005 12:17 PM   Subscribe

The NYPD is searching passengers' bags, supposedly at random and with no racial profiling involved. Setting aside the very real question of how this makes us safer, is this legal? [more inside]
posted by Vidiot (114 comments total)

 
The Fourth Amendment protects us against "unreasonable searches and seizures", and requires probable cause. These searches are being done without warrants, and no probable cause needs to exist -- to hear the NYPD tell it, if they randomly pick you, they're searching you.

These searches would not be Terry stops, which require "reasonable suspicion" that a crime is in progress or imminent. In Stauber v. New York, a federal judge prohibited police from conducting blanket searches of protestors' bags at the Republican National Convention, absent a "showing of both a specific threat to public safety and an indication of how blanket searches could reduce that threat." It also appears that searches require "individualized suspicion" and not random stops.

The closest parallel that I can think of to the current NYPD searches on the subway would be sobriety checkpoints on highways, which are covered by a "special law enforcement need for greater flexibility."

Also: persons selected for search are allowed to refuse, but then they won't be allowed entrance into the subway system. (The MTA's rules for the subway say nothing that I can see about reserving the right to refuse service, and they're a governmental entity.) Can a public entity refuse to admit you if you're not breaking any of their rules and hold a valid ticket?
posted by Vidiot at 12:19 PM on July 25, 2005


(I originally posted this in AskMe, and Matt said it'd work better in the blue. So could the people who responded please re-post their comments here? I'm interested in hearing your take, and I didn't have a chance to see 'em in the green.)
posted by Vidiot at 12:22 PM on July 25, 2005


I'd check to see if this is a double, but I don't want to do an unreasonable search.
posted by found missing at 12:42 PM on July 25, 2005


Read The Christian Science Monitor today?
posted by adamvasco at 12:44 PM on July 25, 2005


From Slate.com:
Are Subway Searches Legal?
posted by Brian James at 12:47 PM on July 25, 2005


How is that relevant, adamvasco?

(Someone else did post this link from Slate, by the way.)
posted by Vidiot at 12:51 PM on July 25, 2005


If the tickettakers at the ballpark have a right to search your backpack before you go in then I don't see how the NYPD can't search your bag before going into the subway. Maybe there are different right of entry rules for public entities but I don't really see much of a difference.

Is it a pain? Yes.
Is it invasive? Yes.
Is it worth it if they stop even one single terrorist attack this way? Yes.

Its simple, if you want to use the subway, expect to be searched. If you don't want to be searched then don't use the subway. And do not run from the police when they tell you to stop, they don't think its very funny at all.
posted by fenriq at 12:56 PM on July 25, 2005


The london bombs were timer detonated devices inside plastic food containers. Will the police be checking lunchboxes?
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on July 25, 2005


I'm not proposing to run from the police, and this doesn't actually make us safer, fenriq. What are the cops looking for? Any item that can be construed as dangerous? (I hope not, because I had hot coffee in my hands this morning and a ballpoint pen in my pocket.) Are they going to search only enough to satisfy themselves that the subway isn't in danger by whatever's in my bag, but also to make sure I'm not doing anything else illegal? Are they going to look for drugs? Pirated music on my MP3 player?

Why only backpacks and larger bags? You can hide explosives or other dangerous articles in belts, coats, hollowed-out books, or anything.

If I refuse their demand to search me, they are not going to let me into the subway. But you think the bad guys can't game the system by going to the next station down the block?

Again, the MTA's rules say nothing about the right to refuse admission to anyone they want to. (As, for instances, private companies can. Restaurants can kick you out if you're barefoot.) But if I'm holding a valid form of fare media, I should be able to ride. That Slate article points out that X-ray and magnetometer searches associated with air travel are not considered a physical search, and that in any rate, air travel is seldom your only option. The subway is a far less controlled environment than the air travel system, and it's by far the best, if not the only, option for travel for millions of people.
posted by Vidiot at 1:04 PM on July 25, 2005


Vidiot - Maybe the USA should start sorting its priorities if it wants to stop possible terrorists. Can I search your bag sir / madam? .... sorry better not i've got a bomb in it I'll go and blow it up on the bus instead. Knee Jerk.
posted by adamvasco at 1:08 PM on July 25, 2005


They are absolutely constitutional.

I already posted once where you could read all the cases which trace this.

The problem with much of the analysis of this topic is that emphasis is placed on the wrong parts of the constitution.

The Fourth Amendment protects from unreasonable searches and seizures. So the first question---the initial hurdle---is whether the search is in fact reasonable. The case law suggests that such searches are reasonable ab initio, or "from the inception," but can become unreasonable if discretion are abused. (That concern can be overcome by setting policies on who is searched). Next, the question is what the aim of the search is. Here, the aim is public safety, which affords police great leeway in searches.

But even if it was an unreasonable search, that right can be abridged if there is a compelling state interest and the interference is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.

As a United State Constitutional matter, it is clearly constitutional.

However, your comment brings up a state court decision (and in the other thread this was pointed out). A state can give greater protection than the Constitution affords; the Constitution is a base for rights, states can make stricter requirements. New York could have a law which no search is ever authorized by statute unless there is probable cause of an imminent harm, or something to that effect. But that would be an issue of compliance with New York statute; it would not be a constitutional law question.

It also appears that searches require "individualized suspicion" and not random stops.

That's very incorrect, and there is plenty supreme court jurisprudence to disprove that. (See my prior post on this subject). Random searches care completely constitutional.

Can a public entity refuse to admit you if you're not breaking any of their rules and hold a valid ticket?
posted by Vidiot at 12:19 PM PST on July 25


Of course. Riding the subway isn't a right Neither is going into a courthouse. Try going into a courthouse but refusing to go through a metal detector: it isn't happening.

Public services are not free public goods that are offered without limitation.

If you don't want to be searched on the subway, walk.

All of that being said, why the hell isn't this a double post?
posted by dios at 1:09 PM on July 25, 2005


I'm all for doing things that will make us safer from terrorism. However, it's far from clear to me how random bag searches on the subway will do that. To quote from that Bruce Schneier post I linked to above:
Counterterrorism is most effective when it doesn't make arbitrary assumptions about the terrorists' plans. Stop searching bags on the subways, and spend the money on 1) intelligence and investigation -- stopping the terrorists regardless of what their plans are, and 2) emergency response -- lessening the impact of a terrorist attack, regardless of what the plans are. Countermeasures that defend against particular targets, or assume particular tactics, or cause the terrorists to make insignificant modifications in their plans, or that surveil the entire population looking for the few terrorists, are largely not worth it.
posted by Vidiot at 1:10 PM on July 25, 2005


(Sorry about the plethora of line breaks... the live preview box is narrow and I didn't notice them).
posted by dios at 1:10 PM on July 25, 2005


Doesn't "no racial profiling" usually mean that they're searching almost all arabs, but then also searching other races at random?
posted by jmccorm at 1:11 PM on July 25, 2005


I bet those bombs were built in people's homes. Better get to randomly searching those too.

Is it a pain? Yes.
Is it invasive? Yes.
Will panicky Americans sell out all of their ideals for the false illusion of safety? You bet.
posted by eener at 1:12 PM on July 25, 2005


If the tickettakers at the ballpark have a right to search your backpack before you go in then I don't see how the NYPD can't search your bag before going into the subway. Maybe there are different right of entry rules for public entities but I don't really see much of a difference.

You don't need to see a baseball game. Many New Yorkers need to use the subway.

All the terrorists must be thrilled - with they NYPD barricading the front door to our transit system full-force, it must be a piece of cake to sneak in the back way. I think they need to sit down and really think about how to best secure the transit system instead of going with their first gut reaction that (a) is borderline if not illegal, and (b) is an inefficient use of manpower.
posted by tomorama at 1:14 PM on July 25, 2005


It'd be keen if there was a prerequisite for people who oppose searches; that they would have to posit something that the police could effectively do to prevent terrorism. Because everything that they have tired to do so far has met opposition from the same groups of people when it is discussed.
posted by dios at 1:15 PM on July 25, 2005


Vidiot, you are right that someone with a desire to cause trouble could just go to the next station.

And maybe the searches don't make us safer but something's gotta be done. Some action's got to be taken so that people see more effort to protect us. It may not work and it may end up allowing a worse incident because people have a false sense of security.

But what else could they, should they have done? They can't profile people and search just the most likely people because the civil rights people would, rightfully so, have a cow.

I don't like the security lockdown mentality anymore than anyone else but I'm not sure that I see an alternative in this instance. Do you? Does anyone have another option?
posted by fenriq at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2005


If you don't want to be searched on the subway, walk.

and if you don't have anything to hide, dios, let those nice policemen search your apartment, too.

because if you don't have them to, you must have something to hide, right?
posted by matteo at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2005


Public services are not free public goods that are offered without limitation.

If you don't want to be searched on the subway, walk.


Super. Just hand me the form so I can be reimbursed for my tax dollars that support this blatant powergrab.

dios, you always have a ready justification for increasing the power of the state over it's citizens but never the other way round.

Nobody wants what you're selling.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:19 PM on July 25, 2005


Reductio ad absurdum, eh matteo?

I suppose someone could have made the same argument when we first put metal detectors in airports. Apparently they would have been hyperbolic dolts for suggesting such a comparison.
posted by dios at 1:20 PM on July 25, 2005


they would have to posit something that the police could effectively do to prevent terrorism.

Does anyone have another option?

Read the Schneier quote above. A false sense of security, as you point out, fenriq, can be worse than than no sense of security. I want my fellow passengers to be on their guard, looking out for packages that are left behind, or people acting strangely. (well, except in the New York subway, where the signal-to-noise ratio for "people acting strangely" is skewed.) I don't want them thinking "because the cops checked that guy's bag, I don't have to worry."
posted by Vidiot at 1:21 PM on July 25, 2005


sonofsamiam, your tax dollars might go for the existence of the subway, but it does not create a license for its use. Again, your tax dollars pay for the courthouse. Try to go there at 2 a.m. and demand that you be let in or your money back. Or, demand that you be let in without being searched. The subway is NOT yours. It is the cities.

I don't support the increase of state power. What I support is the proper understanding of people who grew up to believe that the world is theirs, and they should never be without whatever is their id demands. You live in a state. So you live by its rules. If you don't like the rules, change them. But don't whine about having to follow them. The world is not your playground.
posted by dios at 1:23 PM on July 25, 2005


Why not require anyone proposing searches without probable cause or suspicion to prove how they would make us safer?

I'd like to see, in, say, a month, exactly how many bombs or weapons the NYPD has found from their search. How many terrorist attacks would have been prevented by this current policy. I'd wager that the number is zero.
posted by Vidiot at 1:24 PM on July 25, 2005


Metal detectors and searching bags are not the same things. One is a non-invasive search, the other clearly involves digging into something.

As for doing something to stop terrorism, how about doing the things they did that stopped the first suicide bomber attempt in America?
posted by drezdn at 1:28 PM on July 25, 2005



If you don't want to be searched on the widewalk, drive.

If you don't want to be searched on the road, stay at home.

If you don't want to be searched at home, live in another country.

People, life is inherently dangerous. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to die of too many cheeseburgers, or a car accident, or accidentally mixing bleach and ammonia.

The illusion of security is not worth the invasion of privacy
posted by Freen at 1:28 PM on July 25, 2005


Vidiot, you are asking for proof of a negative. Let's say it works completely. So terrorists, who were planning on making such an attack, decide not to do it. There will be no proof of it because they never proceed.

You don't know it will be ineffective. You cannot guarentee that it will be 100% ineffective. I cannot guarentee the alternative. Somewhere in the middle is where we are at. At some point the cost/benefit analysis skews one way or the other. Perhaps the state has decided it is financially worth it if one attack is stopped. The problem with this is that we may never know if our things worked. The same argument was made about airport security, and maybe it doesn't work. But we haven't had a single data point since 9/11 that suggests it isn't working, so maybe it is.

The point is that you don't know for sure that these things don't work. And yet, here you are protesting their existence without offering an alternative plan. Surely "do nothing" is not a plan.
posted by dios at 1:29 PM on July 25, 2005


Jihad in Brooklyn, for reference to my comment above.
posted by drezdn at 1:29 PM on July 25, 2005


I think that perhaps the searches are being done more to calm the other passengers than to aggravate them. People on the subway HAVE been tense lately. This shows them that at lease some precautions are being taken for their safety. Hell, they look in my bag when I go into the Metropolitan Opera, the Courthouse, any airline terminal, etc. Leave your dildos, opened alcoholic beverages, machetes, and sticks of dynamite at home.
posted by MotherTucker at 1:30 PM on July 25, 2005


Is it worth it if they stop even one single terrorist attack this way? Yes.

I respectfully disagree.
posted by wakko at 1:35 PM on July 25, 2005


In this instance, doing nothing would be an excellent plan - equally effective and without the costs.
posted by Zetetics at 1:37 PM on July 25, 2005


My point, dios, is that there's no way we can be sure it's effective. And that there are well-thought-out, convincing arguments that random bag searches are ineffective. So what do we have to justify the claims that they are going to stop a terrorist?

Or, are we to green-light absolutely every thing that we think might possibly stop a terrorist? Where do you draw the line with what is reasonable and what is not reasonable, when you're dealing with public safety? See, we can do a reductio ad aburdam in the other direction, too.
posted by Vidiot at 1:38 PM on July 25, 2005


White people + fear - education = the current state of things
posted by Dean Keaton at 1:44 PM on July 25, 2005


Dios: I propose good police work. Investigations, Intelligence, Evidence. You know, the stuff they used to stop the mafia, gangs, drug runners, etc. Blowing up a subway is a criminal act. It should be treated like every other criminal act. You know, the way they've dealt with crime for centuries without random invasive searches.
posted by Freen at 1:46 PM on July 25, 2005


I don't see why I have to be inconvenienced... This would all be solved if you banned Arabs from using mass transit...
posted by Debaser626 at 1:48 PM on July 25, 2005


Perhaps its better to think of this as less for the terrorist's benefit and more for the benefit of the people. They see the searches, they think something's being done even though there are probably better ways to do it.

If nothing had been done and there was an incident, then people would be screaming bloody murder for their not having done anything to even try to prevent the same type of attacks here.

Its a lose/lose situation for the counter-terrorists.

Which reminds me, I read through a good portion of the innocent guy shot in London last week but never saw this idea raised (though I wouldn't be surprised at all if had been). Isn't it entirely likely that this was planned to go down this way? They send out a runner who they know will panic, freak and likely get killed. And when they find out he's "innocent" then the public backlash makes it that much easier to stage more bombings?

Maybe I'm giving the terrorists more credit than they deserve?
posted by fenriq at 1:51 PM on July 25, 2005


No one knows what New Yorkers will actually accept to stop terrorism, because terrorism has never been routinized enough to make people feel proximately at risk of it.

If you want to see the constraints and compromises which a population will accept when terrorism becauses routinized enough to rise to such a threat, look at Israel. Or, just look at New York and substitute street crime for terrorism. Rudy Giuliani and his utterly unapologetic law enforcement stance was something that many New Yorkers never felt comfortable with, but can't imagining having to live without, to the extent that there wasn't one Democrat running to replace him in 2001 who didn't pledge allegiance to all the basic premises of his administration ... and still those Democrats couldn't win, so deep did the affection for Giuliani policies run.
posted by MattD at 1:53 PM on July 25, 2005


I posted this earlier today in the older thread, but as no one seems to be following that one anymore, I guess it's appropriate to post it again here:
Interesting experiment and article by NY Daily News, where 5 reporters are sent onto the subway with large bags.
Draw your own conclusions.
posted by numlok at 2:01 PM on July 25, 2005


Dios, the point is that you don't know for sure that doing nothing doesn’t work. And yet, here you are arguing vociferously against it. You don't know it will be ineffective. You cannot guarantee that it will be 100% ineffective. Over the last few years, the state had decided that doing nothing was financially worth it. It has, in fact, proven effective for many years now. Why change tactics?

Ok – I just wanted to know how foolish I would feel after writing something like that.
Dios, man, how do you do it day after day?
posted by Zetetics at 2:05 PM on July 25, 2005


"Those who refuse will not be permitted to bring the package into the subway but will be able to leave the station without further questioning, officials said."

So they can keep trying until they can get that big ol' bag of C4 into the subway.

dios writes "But we haven't had a single data point since 9/11 that suggests it isn't working, so maybe it is."

But are current efforts cost effective? Hundreds of thousands of man years have been expended in searching harmless passengers.

MotherTucker writes "Leave your dildos,[...] at home."
Actually I'm thinking a good way to speak out about this kind of thing is to place a couple really embarassing items in your bag. Say a 24" double ender and a colostomy bag. I'd bet most cops never look under those.
posted by Mitheral at 2:06 PM on July 25, 2005


Officials had said they would search backpacks and other bags, but not conduct random frisks or delve into women's pocketbooks.

Because bombs don't fit into women's pocketbooks, obviously.

Also interesting that Egyptian citizen Tamer El-Ghobashy was searched more often than anyone else. (though the sample size is, admittedly, small.) Wonder what he looks like?
posted by Vidiot at 2:07 PM on July 25, 2005


How many terrorist attacks would have been prevented by this current policy. I'd wager that the number is zero.

Well, if a terrorist stays home, or decides to try another day, and he was headed for my subway car, I would count that as a win for the good guys. Even if it just delays an attack, it gives the cops & spooks more time to catch that guy through investigative means.

Also don't forget that as we have seen in Madrid and London, they like to do multiple, simultaneous bombings. Searches make it more tricky (even if trivially so) to get multiple people (each one with a bomb) past the checkpoints and into the system on a tight schedule. If they can catch just one of them, they can potentially stop other imminent attacks (by interrogating the guy, if he doesn't kill himself, or by shutting down the system, etc).

Searches are not a perfect solution; but I don't think that means they are completely useless, either.
posted by Brian James at 2:08 PM on July 25, 2005


I am really tired of reading comments like "If you don't want to be searched on the subway, walk." It's just not that simple. This shows real ignorance of regular New Yorkers' transportation uses and needs. Public transporation is public, so doesn't the public pay taxes into it? Sure, New Yorkers walk a lot, but it's not practical for everything.
posted by doublehelix at 2:13 PM on July 25, 2005


Perhaps its better to think of this as less for the terrorist's benefit and more for the benefit of the people. They see the searches, they think something's being done even though there are probably better ways to do it.

Unfortunately everything since 9/11 has been this way. I flew about 2 months after 9/11 and there were Guardsmen in camo carrying machine guns.

What, exactly, were they defending? They served no purpose, except to be seen by the public, who are expected to think "Wow, everything must be okay, they have the army here!"

Were they expecting an armed invasion of the baggage claim?

Make no mistake about it... these functions are meant to make you feel better, not stop terrorists. I expect the random bag checkers would fall over in shock if they actually found a bomb. I mean, how incredibly stupid would you have to be to voluntarily submit a bag full of explosives to searching?

The only thing it could possibly do would be to force a suicide bomber to detonate it at the terminal instead of on the train. Is that better somehow?

And it would be nearly impossible for the terrorists to get around that high level security. They would have to carry the bomb some other way than IN A BAG.

They'll surely never figure that out.

Absurd.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:18 PM on July 25, 2005


"Mr. Kelly suggested that riders could voluntarily speed the process. "Ideally, people wouldn't carry any backpacks or bulky packages on the transit system," he said."

That's a hilarious suggestion.

Brian James writes "If they can catch just one of them, they can potentially stop other imminent attacks (by interrogating the guy, if he doesn't kill himself, or by shutting down the system, etc). "

But they aren't going to stop him just turn him away. Only stoners are going to consent to a search to enter the subway when they know they are carrying something that will get the locked up for life. Even if they manage their 1 in 5 target they'll only reduce the effort by 20% if every terrorist turned away never tries again.
posted by Mitheral at 2:19 PM on July 25, 2005


Well, if a terrorist stays home, or decides to try another day, and he was headed for my subway car, I would count that as a win for the good guys.

No, he'd just go to the next station. 5-7 blocks away and bomb someone else.

Trust me, there's this thing called "feature creep". If a tool can be used for something other than what it was intended, it will be. More kids will be caught with pot than terrorists stopped. Actually scratch that, kids won't be caught with pot. No one will be caught with anything, cus they'll go to the enxt station.

The question is this, what is the average hourly wage for a worker in manhattan. divide that by sixty, and then multiply that number by the number of people stopped per day. That's approximatly the average productivity lost per day due to searches that admitedly won't catch a goddamed thing. (assuming wage = productivity which is a stretch.)

Then, think about the number of cops, and their hourly wage. Plus the opportunity cost of those cops not stopping crimes that are much more likely to happen to the average New Yorker.

Allright, then think about the lives lost to other, significantly more preventable crimes/activities/disease and the cost of prevention.

If you're not an idiot, it should be apparent this is a monumental waste of resources. Not to mention, incredibly invasive, and I'd hope highly unconsitutional.
posted by Freen at 2:35 PM on July 25, 2005


Brian James: by interrogating the guy, if he doesn't kill himself, or by shutting down the system, etc

You meant 'if he doesn't get shot eight times in the head' I think.

Oh, sorry, seven times in the head, once in the shoulder...
posted by Chuckles at 2:37 PM on July 25, 2005


It isn't necessary to actually be doing anything to prevent something provided you look like you are doing something to prevent something. Hurray!
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:42 PM on July 25, 2005


I just hope this silliness ends once Bloomberg is re-elected.

On the other hand, I haven't seen a single actual search yet. And I've been on the subway every day since this started.
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:53 PM on July 25, 2005


From firsthand experience the NYC subway searches are, unfortunately, a total joke. Searches are limited to major station entrances -- the obvious targets, in other words. The dozens (hundreds?) of minor stops in the NYC subway system? Totally open, or at most a miserable cop standing down on the 95-degree platforms giving perfunctory glances into passing trains.

Terrorists would, as Vidiot first mentioned, only need to make insignificant changes to perform an attack (e.g. take the E train to Times Square from, say, Prince Street rather than walk through the Times Square turnstile). On the other hand, this "temporary" precaution will net plenty of narcotics traffickers, who use the subways to avoid the greater police powers on roadways. The NYPD recently said as much when they confirmed that they would be searching for narcotics while searching for terrorists.

This measure gives us nothing in security. Nothing at all. I'm saying this from personal observation, and my life does indeed depend upon it. We have traded a bit of freedom for nothing.
posted by solipse at 2:56 PM on July 25, 2005


Freen writes "kids won't be caught with pot. No one will be caught with anything"

Well they might catch the absent minded.

Chuckles writes "You meant 'if he doesn't get shot eight times in the head' I think."

And hasn't rigged a dead man switch.
posted by Mitheral at 3:00 PM on July 25, 2005


"You don't know it will be ineffective."

I'd ask the Israelies how effective bag searches are vs. active countermeasures, CCV surveilance, patrols, training, etc.

Of course, I have a magic rock that keeps terrorists away I'm willing to sell if you give met $500,000 of your tax dollars.
It's proven effective. You don't see any terrorists around me, do you?

"My answer is always the same. Counterterrorism is most effective when it doesn't make arbitrary assumptions about the terrorists' plans. Stop searching bags on the subways, and spend the money on 1) intelligence and investigation -- stopping the terrorists regardless of what their plans are, and 2) emergency response -- lessening the impact of a terrorist attack, regardless of what the plans are. Countermeasures that defend against particular targets, or assume particular tactics, or cause the terrorists to make insignificant modifications in their plans, or that surveil the entire population looking for the few terrorists, are largely not worth it."

I'm stunned that this nearly parallels what I said in the previous post on this topic.

To reiterate: those of you who support this are not only cowards, but fools as well.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:31 PM on July 25, 2005


I don't support the increase of state power.

Liar. You do in at least this case, don't you? You support some of the expanded powers granted to the state under USAPATRIOT, don't you?

A correct answer would have been, "Yes, when they are in the service of what I consider to be the greater good."

What I support is the proper understanding of people who grew up to believe that the world is theirs, and they should never be without whatever is their id demands.

You're projecting, but that's all I've come to expect from you. Me personally, I never ride the subway and, believe it or not, almost never carry a bag. I'm white. I don't anticipate any personal encounters with this bag-searching stuff.

However, I am a man who genuinely believes in certain principles. I don't want a single U.S. citizen deprived of their rights and I don't appreciate your uncharitable presumptions.

dios, you're a student of our laws in the way a blackhat cracker is a student of computer systems: you study them so you can cause them to function in a way counter to their intended function.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:33 PM on July 25, 2005


This came up in a previous thread amd falls down completely on its policy toward contraband -- if an officer can search you, supposedly as a random check for anti-state activity -- and can then arrest you for possession: marijuana or the like, then just go ahead and forget about decades of civil rights victories.
posted by dreamsign at 3:35 PM on July 25, 2005


I suppose a terrorist would preferably be drawn to a crowd -- say, a large number of people waiting in line to get their bags searched -- before flicking the switch. This way you're a)killing a lot of people, b)killing first responders, and c)effectively closing a large entrance to a transit station.

That's why I'm nervous as hell every time I have to go to the airport. F*ck the airplane, the long line-up at the security checkpoint is where a terrorist can do a lot of damage, and I know I'm going to be basically a sitting duck right smack in the middle of it for an arbitrary length of time.
posted by clevershark at 3:40 PM on July 25, 2005


Since when did the rightwing tough-guys become so scared?
posted by Freen at 3:44 PM on July 25, 2005


Liar. You do in at least this case, don't you? You support some of the expanded powers granted to the state under USAPATRIOT, don't you?

Surely you can get above name-calling, can't you? If want to engage me in this coversation, then you must first get above petty name-calling.

Now to your point: I don't see this as an expansion of power, which is my point. The state always has had the authority to do this. They just haven't done it yet. This isn't nuance; it is the basis of my earlier point. You assume this to be an expansion of power, as if you had a liberty in the past to be free of encumberances. But you never did. If you wanted to use public services, you need to comply with whatever limitations that goes on them. This isn't an "expansion of power of the state." This is the state using the power it always had. You never had, nor will ever had, the right to go wherever you want without any limitation. "I pay taxes" is not a license to do whatever you want. Complete liberty is inconsistent with government. Only people who foolishly believe their rights encompass things like "using the subway unadulterated" (or smoking pot or some other percieved infringement on personal privacy and liberty) would see the state's attempt at providing security through compliance with laws a "increase in power."

So don't call me a liar when you can't even understand my point.

dios, you're a student of our laws in the way a blackhat cracker is a student of computer systems: you study them so you can cause them to function in a way counter to their intended function.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:33 PM PST on July 25


Well, now that I have read the rest of your comment, I see that you are incapable of engaging this topic without insulting me directly. As such, I am finished discussing anything else with you.
posted by dios at 3:48 PM on July 25, 2005


The state always has had the authority to do this. They just haven't done it yet. This isn't nuance; it is the basis of my earlier point.

It's a rather monstrous point. The world I envision in your words is one in which liberty and democracy are nothing more than a polite fantasy maintained by the State. I hope you are just playing Devil's advocate here....otherwise it is a little disturbing.
posted by solipse at 4:16 PM on July 25, 2005


Actually, someone in this thread gave me the idea that, if someone's got a bomb in their bag and they know they're going to get searched by the cops. Why wouldn't they make a scene, get as many cops near them and then blow themselves up?

There's no rule that a subway bomber has to explode in the subway.

So yeah, this may make some people feel better but I think it can be legitimately argued that this exposes more people to more risk.

Thanks MeFi, you've helped change my mind.
posted by fenriq at 4:22 PM on July 25, 2005


Well, if a terrorist stays home, or decides to try another day, and he was headed for my subway car, I would count that as a win for the good guys.

No, he'd just go to the next station. 5-7 blocks away and bomb someone else.


First, how do you know this, second, do you think a south asian man with a large dufflebag would approach a checkpoint, see they're searching bags, and turn around, (perhaps trying multiple entrance points) and run the risk of being spotted by cops who are watching for precisely that behavior? Unfortunately these guys aren't that dumb. It's easier and smarter to just wait until they're not searching anymore, which was my entire point, that it buys the cops time.
posted by Brian James at 4:29 PM on July 25, 2005


accidental null link.
posted by Brian James at 4:30 PM on July 25, 2005


solipse's statement is exactly why these "random" bag checks will be completely ineffective.

I too decided to try a little experiment and visit/enter some of the lesser travelled lines in Brooklyn. What did I find? Not a single bag check station. And the scant law enforcement I did see (including two unarmed reservists), looked bored or overheated.

As many have already pointed out the MTA isn't a closed system - once you're in, you're in. Terrorists could jump on any J, G or L train and be at their downtown or mid-town destination in less than an hour.

Meanwhile, real crime continues at midday with not a cop in sight. Gee, I feel much safer now...
posted by triptychrecords at 4:30 PM on July 25, 2005


The world I envision in your words is one in which liberty and democracy are nothing more than a polite fantasy maintained by the State. I hope you are just playing Devil's advocate here....otherwise it is a little disturbing.
posted by solipse at 4:16 PM PST on July 25


Solipse, I'm not. I'm being completely serious. Look at the language of the Constitution: it prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Inclusio unius est exclusio alterius. By the language of the Constitution, reasonable searches and seizures are not prohibited. The state always has the right to conduct reasonably searches. The Constitution grants that authority.

I don't think democracy is a fantasy. Nor liberty. They just have to be properly understood. We don't live in a democracy; we live in a constitutional republic. The state has powers through the Constitution. It can operate within those power. The democratic part comes in when the people articulate through regular elections what limits and contours they want to place on the use of governmental power.

It's like this. My car can go 150 mph. I limit myself to going to no more than 80 most of the time. But the power is there. At times when it is necessary, I can have my car go more.

So it is with state power. It is not an expansion of power to start searches in another area for another reason. That power was always there. That is, the power to search people when there is a danger to the public welfare. The contours on using that power are flexible, and it has not been utilized at subways. Your liberty hasn't been diminished; state power has not increased. Your liberty is the same as the day when you were born: the freedom to pursue your wishes within the parameters established by the government. It was always thus and always will be.

Too often people get confused and assume because they were able to do something, their liberty or rights encompass that. That is philosophically and legally incorrect. There is no right to ride a subway. There is no liberty to ride a subway unencumbered. The state created a subway and licensed the use of it to people who complied with conditions. Heretofore, the condition did not include "subject to search." Now it does.
posted by dios at 4:37 PM on July 25, 2005


As such, I am finished discussing anything else with you.

Great! If only you felt the same way about everyone else, we'd get a rest from your incessant shilling.

I don't feel the least bit bad about getting personal with you, dios. Your arguments are incoherent and your ideals are unAmerican. Also, you're a prissy sophist and you've got an ego the size of a Chrysler.

Feel free to Greasemonkey my comments away, if your fragile porcelain feelings can't handle them. I calls 'er like I seizure.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:38 PM on July 25, 2005


dios: is this a moment when the state should have that power?

Some searches, perhaps are reasonable. Is this search reasonable?
posted by Freen at 4:46 PM on July 25, 2005


Let me preface the following with these two things:
a) I live in NYC, so this directly affects me.
b) I'm still undecided about how I feel about this.

That said, without bag checks, four guys could walk into Penn Station, Times Square, Grand Central, and Union Square with enormous bombs in duffel bags and blow themselves up, taking dozens with them. The probablility that they'd suceed would be near 100%. Bag checks would make this more difficult and increase police presence.

I'd love to regain freedoms I've lost from the 90s, but the fact is that we are in the middle of a fucking bloody mess of a war, and to pretend that we don't need precautions at home, and to pretend the london bombings never happened is idiotic.

Obviously bag checks alone are not enough. I hope that the NYPD are doing less-publicized things as well to protect the subways.
posted by Edible Energy at 4:52 PM on July 25, 2005


Without bag checks, four guys could walk into Penn Station....

Someone could just as easily blow up a car on the street.
posted by drezdn at 4:58 PM on July 25, 2005


Someone could just as easily blow up a car on the street.
How is that relevant? Bag checks are to protect the subways, not the streets.
posted by Edible Energy at 5:02 PM on July 25, 2005


It's show business, to give the illusion of safety without really making us any safer at all. Cameras, sensors, etc, would all make a real difference, but they'd rather play games and inconvenience us.
posted by amberglow at 5:07 PM on July 25, 2005


And Edible, these random checks that are happening would never stop what you describe, either at Penn Station or on a subway.
posted by amberglow at 5:09 PM on July 25, 2005


The world I see happening, is the world Dios sees as right.

You see all those cameras going up, or have been installed for years? Those aren't really just to check for trafic congestion, like they told us. Who paid for them? I mean what coffers did the money to pay for them come out of? In Colorado we have the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. (TABOR)
No tax increases may be issued until voter approval.

(It's awesome!)

But did my city get stuck with the survalience bill? More importantly, I never voted for this survalience system.

This is all just another creaching of govt. survalience into your personal lives.

Another excuse to put up a metal detector, and another one on the next street corner.
Please empty your pockets and step through the scanner.

And govt. see's it as a win because it can be outsourced.
posted by Balisong at 5:14 PM on July 25, 2005


I've wondered -- sincerely, and not as a clever device to expound a view of any sort -- why this would be effective. It would seem that we'd move from bombs being blown up on subways to bombs being blown up in walkways, in cops' faces. If there's expensive explosive detectors, why won't this result in bombs being blown up in queue for the the detector?
posted by boo_radley at 5:15 PM on July 25, 2005


What Dios said above is true.
Govt. has always had this power. It's just now that the atmosphere is right to stretch it's legs a bit and fill every void.
Govt. has always had the power to search you before boarding subways, or city owned busses, or before entering any govt. building.

There was a time when that wasn't called for. That time was called Free America. We don't live there anymore.
posted by Balisong at 5:19 PM on July 25, 2005


It would seem that we'd move from bombs being blown up on subways to bombs being blown up in walkways, in cops' faces
That's sorta the point. It'd kill less people that way.

And Edible, these random checks that are happening would never stop what you describe, either at Penn Station or on a subway.

I'm not convinced.
posted by Edible Energy at 5:23 PM on July 25, 2005


Bag checks would make this more difficult and increase police presence.

More difficult by what? About 10%? C'mon. It would NOT make it more difficult at all.

So they detonate DURING the search. What do they care. The point is to kill. And in that case they get to kill some members of the goon squad plus some of us schmucks waiting in line.

This random search crap has never worked anywhere. It did not work against the IRA, the PLO, Hezbollah or any where else. What worked? During the seventies in Greece EVERYBODY got strip searched before getting on a plane. That worked.

Is this "solution" about what is a reasonable intrusion into our life? So it's reasonable but completely ineffective.

If random searches are "reasonable" then I support random searches of individual bank and investment accounts large or numerous enough that sums could be diverted to terrorist operations. And if they happen to find other irregularities - like tax shelters etc - then consider that a bonus.

I would then support random searches of residential homes. It could be run like a lottery with NO exceptions - mansions or slum: one per 1000 homes per day per city per county per state. And if anything else is found... like child pornography or drugs - then consider that a bonus.

Is this where we are headed? Well. No. because random searches of the Subway systems and public transit only intrude into POOR peoples lives not the plutocrats who make up this crap.

You want something that works? Right? If it's effective safety you want then you have to advocate 100% lock down and searches of everybody all the time everywhere. THAT works. If your interested in really "saving" lives, that is.

Random searches don't work. Or is it about feeling safer. Anything to make us all "feel" safer, right? It's all about how we feel, after all.

Stop being wussies and go all the way with this or say fuck it and put this money to where it actually does do good — in intelligence and investigation.
posted by tkchrist at 5:27 PM on July 25, 2005


At some of the busiest of the city's 468 stations, riders will be asked to open their bags for a visual check

So, take a cab to one of the least busy stations and get on there?
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:49 PM on July 25, 2005


So they detonate DURING the search. What do they care. The point is to kill. And in that case they get to kill some members of the goon squad plus some of us schmucks waiting in line.
As I pointed out before, they kill far less people in that scenario.


random searches of the Subway systems and public transit only intrude into POOR peoples lives not the plutocrats who make up this crap.
If you think only the poor ride the subway in NYC, you are way off.

Random searches don't work.
This sweeping conclusion is unconvincing, where's your proof (or even any evidence whatsoever)?

Or is it about feeling safer.
Maybe it's about having an increased police presence in the subway system.

If it's effective safety you want then you have to advocate 100% lock down and searches of everybody all the time everywhere.
Nobody is claiming 100% efficiency. Seat belts don't save your life 100% of the time, should we stop wearing them?
posted by Edible Energy at 5:53 PM on July 25, 2005


Edible: As I pointed out before, they kill far less people in that scenario.
No they don't.
In a busy subway station, they could easily match the london bombings' combined total of 55. You are never going to win the numbers game, because this isn't about rational risk prevention. This is a political measure, meant to calm a scared populace.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:03 PM on July 25, 2005


Edible, they have a set amount of people to search, no matter what--i think it's like 1 in 5 at rush hours or something ("every fifth person with a bag."). All someone has to do is watch, learn, and be the 7th person. Plus, there's not anywhere near enough cops to be at every station entrance, so there are enormous gaps--gaps that easily could be exploited by anyone bent on harm.
posted by amberglow at 6:11 PM on July 25, 2005


I know this question at hand is the legality of the searches, but I'm having a difficult time with these issues. Having personally watched planes fly into the World Trade Center from an office window in downtown Manhattan, I want to feel safe again. The legality of the searches hardly seems the point to me, instead I want to know that the costs of doing searches are worth it. Are the losses of our freedom and privacy really keeping us safe? Or are we just slowly bankrupting ourselves by spending a lot of money on something that's not going to keep us safer anyway?
posted by nyc stories at 6:15 PM on July 25, 2005


I'm sorry, the correct answer is bankrupt and not any safer.
posted by Balisong at 6:18 PM on July 25, 2005


amberglow, I completely agree with what you just wrote, which is why I'm still undecided about whether this is neccesary or not. But the fact that they have to watch and learn, or utilize other less scrutinized entrances or stations to enter the system means that it's harder now than it was two weeks ago to pull the job off.

The question is, how much harder does it make it; You think by an inconsequential amount. I however, believe that the increased police presence underground, along with increased rider vigilance and other strategies the police are using but not publicizing make it substantially more difficult.

The other question is, is it worth it? That's the question I'm struggling with.
posted by Edible Energy at 6:25 PM on July 25, 2005


It's pretty much impossible to watch an open system as big as ours. Other things are possible--more cameras, sensors, putting token clerks back into stations as eyes and ears like they used to be....even hiring more sniffing police dogs are more effective than bag searches.


Kos: CBS News: Americans Easily Manipulated By Fear
posted by amberglow at 6:37 PM on July 25, 2005


And Edible, it's not just the subways--our waterways are totally unprotected, our bridges too, and certainly anyone could detonate anything at all on any of the many many busy streets at lunchtime or rushhour...there are so many possible ways we can be attacked that you could grow old just listing them. The cops have chosen an uneffective and possibly illegal, but certainly visible strategy. You buy it--we don't. It's the illusion of security.
posted by amberglow at 6:42 PM on July 25, 2005


amberglow: you win. I'm officially anti-search. I was leaning that way from the start anyhow.
posted by Edible Energy at 6:56 PM on July 25, 2005


It's not winning til we actually really are a little safer, and still get to keep all our rights and freedoms. That's when we'll win. Right now, no one's even trying. Both NY and London are listening to Israeli consultants, and think they have the answer. I don't know about you, but Israelis still aren't safe, and they've given up an enormous amount.
posted by amberglow at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2005


Thanks for coming around Edible. One down, many, many more to go...

To add to amberglow's point; what about a dark and crowded movie theater, any supermarket in the city at 6pm or the Columbus Circle mall. If the next attack occurs at one of these public places should we have checkpoints there as well?

Say what you will about Richard Clarke's scenario in '10 Years Later', but there are hundreds of public places in NYC (or Chicago, or LA, or Peoria), where those wanting to do harm could strike.

This charade at a few train stations will NOT make us any safer.
posted by triptychrecords at 7:10 PM on July 25, 2005


Nope, but if I were you, I'd invest heavily in whatever company makes metal detectors.

You'll start to see them pop up like video cameras in the comming months.
posted by Balisong at 7:34 PM on July 25, 2005


There's a good article in the New Yorker this week about the NYPD's post-911 focus on counterterrorism. From what I've read, no other city in the US has the resources invested in counterterrorism that New York has. There are NYPD offices in Tel Aviv, London, Kabul, etc. the idea being that in order to prevent or react to terror, you have study the real thing, in person. Whenever there's any terrorist attack anywhere in the world, or even anything that may have possibly been one, the NYPD sends people there to study it.

NYPD is basically acting independently, collecting intelligence and acting on it. The Feds don't complain because no one has the balls, apparently, to fuck with Comm. Kelly. In fact, the FBI and CIA often go to the NYPD for intelligence. Officers drawn from New York's huge immigrant population have been great for foreign-language work, for example.

The point is, there is a strong sentiment in New York that the Federal government, pre and post 911, has let the city down. The police have taken things into their own hands, have become an international intelligence organization (even beat cops have a counterterrorist mentality), and spend day in and day out worrying about threats to national assets that the Federal government should care about, but won't invest in protecting, and also worrying about what is, after all, the place where they live.

I don't agree with searching bags -- I think it's theater. And I'm not much of a fan of how the NYPD handles protests, Critical Mass, etc. But given the NYPD's new mission, I can understand their policy as an assertive statement of how they're serious and visibly involved in protecting New Yorkers. It's not just a message to New Yorkers, or terrorists, it's a message to Washington: "We don't care if it's legal or not, you dropped the ball, we're doing things our own way." I think the real debates to come are going to be framed more in terms of this independence and what must be an inevitable power struggle, eventually, with Washington.
posted by swift at 7:49 PM on July 25, 2005


dios: Perhaps the state has decided it is financially worth it if one attack is stopped. The problem with this is that we may never know if our things worked. The same argument was made about airport security, and maybe it doesn't work. But we haven't had a single data point since 9/11 that suggests it isn't working, so maybe it is.

Or perhaps the state has decided that the illusion of security is a necessary shot in the arm for the industries and transportation systems threatened.

And actually, we have had multiple data points to show that airport security has not reduced the ability of terrorists to strike civilian populations. We have had at least three very successful strikes on tourist hotels, two successful strikes, and one possible fizzile on rail transportation since 9/11. Before 9/11 we had two truck bombs. Just after 9/11 there was a reasonably credible threat that terrorists were investigating how to take down apartment complexes. The evidence seems to show that terrorists are extremely adept at adapting to our defensive profile.

And again, we have statistical models that show that when you are looking for a needle in a haystack, that random searches of straws will give you large numbers of false positives for every hit. This makes the argument for random bag searches in the hopes of finding the three in 5 million that are terrorists, a lot worse than the argument for random breath tests at 2am on a Sunday morning.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:54 PM on July 25, 2005


Any legislative measure that is enacted so quickly that there's no time to print the signs to describe it might be understood to be, um, a bit rash.
posted by cloudscratcher at 8:00 PM on July 25, 2005


Dios: "The democratic part comes in when the people articulate through regular elections what limits and contours they want to place on the use of governmental power."

Thanks for the inadvertent chuckle!
posted by numlok at 8:04 PM on July 25, 2005


tryptychrecords: Every time I've stayed in a hotel in a major city, there is a big parking garage with an automated entry system under it, and parking spaces a few feet from the elevator core.

And then there are bus systems with regular timed stops every two blocks along the route. You don't even need to put the bomb ON the bus.

On any given Sunday, you have millions of people packed into hundreds of sporting venues.

The point as we've seen with the IRA and in Israel is that ANY public venue can be a target.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:08 PM on July 25, 2005


Personally I think anybody even remotely associated with the Trotskyist-Zinovievist-Kamenevist conspiracy to deprive us of our beloved Stalin as they murdered poor Kirov should be lined up and shot. We've molly- coddled too many enemies of our State too much already: let the burden be on suspicious persons to prove they are not traitors or terrorists, and let those deviationists who complain about this "infringement" of their "rights" be listed among those who give aid and comfort to the Enemy!
posted by davy at 8:13 PM on July 25, 2005


*retouches thread so davy is "erased"* ; >
posted by amberglow at 8:19 PM on July 25, 2005


amberglow:

great kos/cbs news post.

it's really getting crazy now, and worse is yet to come.
posted by brandz at 8:57 PM on July 25, 2005


Bag checks are to protect the subways, not the streets.

In America, bombs in cars have done just as much damage. So why not start searching random cars, just to be safe?

That's the thing, random checks are like trying to plug a leaky dike with a single finger and lead to a world with less privacy. A more comprehensive approach based on intelligence is far more likely to work.
posted by drezdn at 9:50 PM on July 25, 2005


A 1999 article in the Economist discusses the historical viability of cities, before the rise of worldwide terrorism as we've witnessed in the last years. It begins by saying
"Humanity for millennia has chosen to live in cities. They serve its needs

“MAN”, wrote Aristotle in roughly 330BC, “is by nature a city beast.” So, he could have added, are rats."
and ends with this paragraph:
"Yet if pollution, traffic and the suburban shopping mall cannot kill the city, will teleworking and the net? Will downtowns like Houston’s be abandoned to decay, their office towers unpeopled as the pyramids, leaving suburbia to rule? Futurologists love to tell us so. Let them tell the birds."
In my mind, the question before us now, is whether terrorism will be the tune played by fanatical pipers, that finally, added to all the other disincentives of urban life, empties the great cities, or failing that, reduces them to locations where risks must be undertaken to obtain specialized goods or services requiring city infrastructure.

Personally, I've already this summer seen American friends cancel planned vacations to New York, London, Paris and Jerusalem, in part because of fears of being involved in terrorist incidents. Those vacation dollars instead went to trips to the Rocky Mountains, North Carolina, and Santiago, which I hear were great. But cities like New York and London have become increasingly reliant on tourism and business travel as their manufacturing bases have declined, and it is no stretch for me to see that the current climate of fear must be having, already, discernable economic effects.

But really, if 3 million New Yorkers voluntarily dispersed to Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kentucky over the next 5 years, wouldn't the subways of NYC be less attractive terrorist targets? And wouldn't American society be better off?

And while it may have been true in Johnson's time that "When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." it is true today that that even some Savile Row types are coming to different conclusions.
posted by paulsc at 9:52 PM on July 25, 2005


Security measures that create large queues of people are inherently safe. Yes sir. There ain't no targets where there are large bodies of people standing around.
posted by vbfg at 2:31 AM on July 26, 2005


Heretofore, the condition did not include "subject to search." Now it does.

But the thing is, no, it doesn't. The subway's rules haven't changed, and nowhere do they say that they have the right to refuse admission to anyone they choose, and nowhere do they say that users are subject to search.

Having personally watched planes fly into the World Trade Center from an office window in downtown Manhattan, I want to feel safe again.

And I want to actually be safe. Feeling safe without actually being any safer (and being, arguably, in more danger than before) is no help.

I read that same New Yorker article. (Pity it's not online.) And this kind of stuff is exactly what the NYPD needs to be doing. Take the resources away from pointless, dangerous bag checks, deploy the cops elsewhere, and give more money to the Intelligence Division.

Oh yeah, and push for security measures that make sense. For instance, how about requiring that aircraft maintenance and cleaning personnel be searched? Aircraft crews are searched...but the guys who clean the plane aren't.
posted by Vidiot at 5:37 AM on July 26, 2005


It's weird--when they replaced all the old turnstiles with ones that have that metal arch over them, i always thought they did that for sensors or cams or something. Why don't they? What's that arch for?
posted by amberglow at 5:47 AM on July 26, 2005


I agree with paulsc that the bag searching is about calming fears of potential tourists. I haven't been searched yet, and I'm sure I'll resent it when it happens, but ultimately I don't think it's the beginning of the erosion of my rights. When the memory of the London bombings fades, the cops will go. (So far my only experience of the "increased security" is to see more police standing around chatting in the subway system.)

But I don't agree with the simplistic view that American Society would be "better" if I and 3 million others left NYC. How so? Seems to me that's like saying we should move 3 million people out of Florida because with all those hurricanes striking down there, our insurance rates must all be suffering.
posted by papercake at 5:52 AM on July 26, 2005


When the memory of the London bombings fades, the cops will go.
It's true...and the city can't afford to keep it up, and there aren't enough cops anyway. Plus, the first lawsuit will probably put an end to it too. I know the ACLU's on it.
posted by amberglow at 6:11 AM on July 26, 2005




If you think only the poor ride the subway in NYC, you are way off.

Get out. Sure in NY (an exception to public transit I assure you) a wider spectrum of classes ride the subway. But the majority are middle to lower class. And the upper class riders HAVE other options. And you know what I meant. Bush and Cheney never rode the subway, Bloomberg doesn't ride the subway - nor does anybody who actually makes these useless edicts.

This sweeping conclusion is unconvincing, where's your proof (or even any evidence whatsoever)?

I think there has been plenty of evidence to this fact presented already. If you choose not to examine it that's your problem.

If your not willing to accept the efficacy argument - then what about the slippery slope? When will it end? Somebody bombs a mall - we get searched going into malls. Somebody bombs a movie theater we get searched going into movie theaters.

How far are you willing to go? What kind of world do you want to live in. This world isn't defined by what terrorist do or don't do. It's made by you and me.

And I have to remind all of you of the tedious and obvious truth: Your all going to die. Oh. My. Yes. It's true. All of us. 100% of us. In ten minutes, ten years or fifty years.

So now that we have removed the terrible mystery from that - how do you want to LIVE?
posted by tkchrist at 11:21 AM on July 26, 2005


Well said, tkchrist.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:33 PM on July 26, 2005


We really don't want to be like Israel, where everyone is searched at malls, cafes, restaurants, buses, etc--basically every place where any group of 10 or more people gather.
posted by amberglow at 12:45 PM on July 26, 2005


So I'm assuming you pro-bag searchers all avoid riding motorcycles, wear seat belts all the time, know CPR & the Heimlich, avoid red meat, work a suicide hotline, favor gun control, advocate passing out condoms ...you see where I’m going. Considering the extreme unlikelyhood of being killed in a terrorist attack, I’d think we’d focus on, oh, say automobile safety, cardiovascular health (say NOT cutting back on Phys Ed. in schools, etc). But this is similar to the gun control issue. Many people are killed by handguns. Why not ban them? (BTW I’m so pro-gun I make Wayne LaPierre look like Ralph Nader)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:06 PM on July 26, 2005


The conflict here is social contract 101. I tend to side heavily with Lysander Spooner (for dios: he wrote “The Unconstitutionality of Slavery” at a time when slavery was considered one of the inherent and legal powers of the state).
Roughly mirroring Spooner I’d argue the consensus and the legitimacy of the law under which the searches are conducted. Apart from of course their utter uselessness (already well-established in argument and fact).
posted by Smedleyman at 5:16 PM on July 26, 2005


The Citizen's Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches--including: ...
1. When Refusing a Search, Be Cool ...
Calmly and clearly say "Officer, I do not consent to any searches. I'm going to exit the station." Then immediately exit the station -- and do not return through the same entrance.
2. Refusal is Not Guilt ...
3. Shut Your Mouth and Your Wallet
Some media reports state that police are requesting identification and in some cases immigration papers.
You do not have to answer any police questions or give any information -- including your name, ID citizenship or immigration status -- whether or not you consent to a search. But remember, anything you say can be used against you.
4. Do Not Physically Resist
You may state clearly but non-confrontationally: "Officer, I am not resisting and I do not consent to any searches."
5. WARNING: DO NOT RUN!...
6. Report Abuses ...
7. Spread the Word! ...

posted by amberglow at 6:08 AM on July 27, 2005




Sure in NY (an exception to public transit I assure you) a wider spectrum of classes ride the subway. But the majority are middle to lower class.

Well, that kinda follows from the fact that the majority of the population is middle to lower class. Get on the subway during rush hour in Manhattan, you'll see plenty of suits.
posted by Edible Energy at 2:53 PM on July 27, 2005


it is well-known in the city that Mayor Michael Bloomberg rides the subway every day.

While I find that hard to believe I will stand corrected until I learn otherwise.

Come to think of it... I thought I did see Dick Cheney playing with himself on the B line.
posted by tkchrist at 2:58 PM on July 27, 2005




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