Papers Please

Remember when our “representatives” established the Transportation Sexual Assaulter Security Administration (TSA) and claimed they would only be used for airports? Remember when TSA agents were caught harassing Amtrak passengers and later truck drivers in Tennessee? That’s what we call mission creep and anytime the government establishes a new agency with limited powers you can guarantee mission creep will follow. In fact I would say this law of mission creep is more stable and provable than the law of gravity. Well fellows denizens of the United States, the TSA’s mission creep shows no signs of stopping:

Rick Vetter was rushing to board the Amtrak train in Charlotte, N.C., on a recent Sunday afternoon when a canine officer suddenly blocked the way.

Three federal air marshals in bulletproof vests and two officers trained to spot suspicious behavior watched closely as Seiko, a German shepherd, nosed Vetter’s trousers for chemical traces of a bomb. Radiation detectors carried by the marshals scanned the 57-year-old lawyer for concealed nuclear materials.

When Seiko indicated a scent, his handler, Julian Swaringen, asked Vetter whether he had pets at home in Garner, N.C. Two mutts, Vetter replied. “You can go ahead,” Swaringen said.

Let me just say I’m getting sick of state agents using dogs to do whatever the fuck they want. The only person who knows if a dog “alerts” or “indicates a scent” is the handler and they can claim any reaction made by the dog is an “alert” or “indicator.” Thus dogs are incredibly brought in to create phony probably cause as nobody can really argue against the handler’s word, especially since dogs can’t speak. I would bet money the case mentioned above was merely a case of profiling, put the target in a situation where he would feel nervous and watch for his physical reactions. If the target doesn’t break out into a sweat or studded his speech you let him go, otherwise you harass him without cause some more.

The Transportation Security Administration isn’t just in airports anymore. TSA teams are increasingly conducting searches and screenings at train stations, subways, ferry terminals and other mass transit locations around the country.

“We are not the Airport Security Administration,” said Ray Dineen, the air marshal in charge of the TSA office in Charlotte. “We take that transportation part seriously.”

The TSA’s 25 “viper” teams — for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response — have run more than 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in the last year. Department of Homeland Security officials have asked Congress for funding to add 12 more teams next year.

How much money to you think somebody got paid to come up with the tacticool acronym VIPR? Still this excuse by the TSA to expand its powers shows why you need to give agencies very narrow names. Instead of calling the agency the Transportation Security Administration they should have been given the name Airport Restricted Security Agency Guarding the Gateway Between the Secure Area of the Airport and the Insecure Area of the Airport using Metal Detectors (ARSAGGBSAAIAAMD). Sure it’s a mouthful but they at least have to perform an agency name change before expanding their powers a terrible amount.

Let the TSA be a lesson to you, if the government asks for powers in one market they will always use that new power to justify the expansion of their power. At the rate we’re going there will be TSA checkpoints on the border of individual states and we’ll be required to provide our papers in order to traverse from one state to another.