A few days ago Seattle Outcast in one of his comments mentioned how the TSA was expanding their influence out of the airports and hitting the streets in Tennessee. My reaction was I’m sure like everyone else’s , that old Franklinism about security/liberty immediately came to mind, saying to myself ,”Here we go again”.
It is amazing how much leeway a government can be given by a willing populace if that rope is couched in terms of fighting terrorism or making the country safe. I am usually on the other side of this argument, praising the efforts made by law enforcement and those agencies tasked with fighting terror in how tirelessly and effectively they have done their jobs. We have all heard about the several instances over the last decade where terror plots were stopped dead in their tracks, all due to effective police work.
But hearing about TSA stops on the highway, is it a natural inference to assume that they will be stopping people at random, profiling, and throwing the Constitution right out the window, but that was NOT my inference. Just like all the false hysteria perpetrated by the left about the new Arizona immigration laws, how the cops would now be free to profile, to stop cars and people at random solely for the purpose of checking for papers and citizenship status, I knew that was horse shit. For those that bothered to read the bill, Constitutional protections were not infringed on one bit. The precept of “probable cause” was not altered or did away with and the police were still guided by law as to when they could effect a traffic stop.
Same with this new TSA scare:
VIPR (ohhhh, sounds menacing) is operating at truck safety stations. Commercial rigs (trucks, big rigs, implements of husbandry, etc) are governed by more stringent regulations then regular cars, this is due to their size and potential for carnage if crashed. Commercial rigs are required by law to enter these safety stations, they are weighed and visually inspected, and some are required for a random safety inspection, this happens to like every 10th (or so) truck that goes through. So while Highway Patrol mechanics do a cursory (using involving just a few minutes) inspection, TSA is out there with their bomb dog giving the rig a quick sniff, no harm no foul.
While I like the idea of a program that brings awareness of “suspicious” vehicles and gets those truckers out there to keep their eyes open, I don’t think they are fishing in the right pond. I doubt terrorists are going to drive (or transport their explosives) in big rigs, too expensive and too much of a hassle to operate.
I said this was a waste of money because all this stuff is funded by Homeland Security and it is all run on overtime, designed more to show the folks how “on the job” the government is at keeping them safe, but very costly, due to how it is being run. No mention is made in this article that the TSA is stopping regular cars on the highway, that is because they have no authority to do that. Now most counties in California have drug dogs at the access, if a routine traffic stop warrants some probable cause that there are drugs in the vehicle, the drug dog is called for a routine sniff. I would have no problem with this if the TSA wanted to make this a model for vehicle interdiction. Mohammad gets stopped for speeding, he has no ID, car not registered to him, interior is strewn with Arabic printed material,and on the seat is a copy of “Bomb Making for Dummies”, yes, call out the bomb dog, OK by me.
I am glad that the attached video mentioned Timothy McVeigh, this example reenforces everything good about what we expect from our police. McVeigh was stopped by an observant cop for no license plate (probable cause) and during the contact was sharp enough to connect the dots, MeVeigh’s demeanor, stuff inside the van, and his inability to answer even simplest of questions. Sometimes bad guys are caught just like that.