Now, thanks to TSA Chief John Pistole’s determination to “take the TSA to the next level,” there will soon be no place safe from the TSA’s groping searches. Only this time, the “ritualized humiliation” is being meted out by the serpentine-labeled Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) task forces, comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams. At a cost of $30 million in 2009, VIPR relies on 25 teams of agents, in addition to assistance from local law enforcement agencies as well as immigration agents. And as a sign of where things are headed, Pistole, himself a former FBI agent, wants to turn the TSA into a “national-security, counterterrorism organization, fully integrated into U.S. government efforts.” To accomplish this, Pistole has requested funding for an additional 12 teams for fiscal year 2012, bringing VIPR’s operating budget close to $110 million.
VIPR is the first major step in the government’s effort to secure so-called “soft” targets such as malls, stadiums, bridges, etc. In fact, some security experts predict that checkpoints and screening stations will eventually be established at all soft targets, such as department stores, restaurants, and schools. Given the virtually limitless number of potential soft targets vulnerable to terrorist attack, subjection to intrusive pat-downs and full-body imaging will become an integral component of everyday life in the United States. As Jim Harper of the Cato Institute observed, “The natural illogic of VIPR stings is that terrorism can strike anywhere, so VIPR teams should search anywhere.”
These raids, conducted at taxpayer expense on average Americans going about their normal, day-to-day business, run the gamut from the ridiculous to the abusive. In Santa Fe, TSA agents were assigned to conduct searches at a high school prom. At the port of Brownsville, in Texas, VIPR units searched all private and commercial vehicles entering and exiting the port. Although the TSA admitted the search was not conducted in response to any specific threat, VIPR agents nonetheless engaged in “thorough” inspections of each and every vehicle. In a training exercise in Atlanta, VIPR teams allegedly arrested a man after discovering a small amount of marijuana in his semi-trailer. In San Diego, a VIPR investigation at a trolley station resulted in the deportation of three teenagers apprehended on their way to school.
The question that must be asked, of course, is who exactly is the TSA trying to target and intimidate? Not would-be terrorists, given that scattershot pat-down stings are unlikely to apprehend or deter terrorists. In light of the fact that average citizens are the ones receiving the brunt of the TSA’s efforts, it stands to reason that we’ve become public enemy number one. We are all suspects. And how does the TSA deal with perceived threats? Its motto, posted at the TSA’s air marshal training center headquarters in the wake of 9/11, is particularly telling: “Dominate. Intimidate. Control.”
Can't type well enough to properly comment on this; go read it all, and then call/write your congresscritters.
Found at Sipsey