TSA Takes Security Theater On The Road: Mobile Groping Teams Can Pop Up Anywhere

from the somehow-this-makes-me-feel-less-safe dept

Via Julian Sanchez, we learn that the TSA has apparently been taking its security theater on the road, with special mobile teams, as a part of its VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) program. These teams apparently show up unannounced, and start their usual groping and scanning procedures at bus stations, train and subway stations, and occasionally even on passenger cars.

While the TSA is claiming it's doing this to "prevent terrorism" (of course), some are noting that the TSA is working closely with ICE on these efforts, and it often seems like these "random" searches are specifically targeting potential illegal immigrants, rather than actual terrorist threats.

Of course, no one has a problem with the general idea of stopping terrorism or enforcing the basics of the law. But it does seem highly questionable, on basic 4th Amendment points, for the TSA to just magically drop in a team that gets to search people without any other basis beyond "we're here from the TSA, and we're here to grope."

Filed Under: privacy, searches, tsa


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  1. icon
    aldestrawk (profile), 21 Jun 2011 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Those who choose safety over liberty . . .

    There are restrictions on the border search exception.

    "A search at the borderís functional equivalent is constitutionally valid when:
    (1) a reasonable certainty exists that the person or thing crossed the border;
    (2) a reasonable certainty exists that there was no change in the object of the search since it crossed the border; and
    (3) the search was conducted as soon as practicable after the border crossing.

    For the most part, the border search exception is not going to apply to any of the VIPR checkpoints. However, ICE agents can question or detain individuals anywhere in the U.S. to determine, for example, if aliens have a right to be in the U.S. One thing I am sure they cannot do at a VIPR checkpoint is search your laptop or the contents of other electronic devices.

    The TSA is using all the powers they have at airports at any of these VIPR checkpoints. This includes search of your any bags, purses etc. and a physical search of you.

    Additionally, they are radiation detectors, and explosives detection such as dogs. It would be interesting to know if they ever use drug detecting dogs.

    As with the TSA at airports you can always decline to be searched but with the penalty of not being able to ride the train, bus, subway, or trolley. If I had brought my bomb with me I would just come back when the VIPR checkpoint is no longer there. There was even a sign at the entrance to a train station building, during a VIPR checkpoint, warning that you should expect to be searched.

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