TSA Searches Expand as Opposition Mounts
(The New American) -- by Alex Newman --
As travelers and state governments across America fight back against invasive screening by the Transportation Security Administration at airports, the TSA is actually expanding its operations covering busses, trains, ships, ferries, subways, and even highways. But critics, who say the methods are unconstitutional and often constitute sexual assault, are up in arms.
A popular movement that began picking up steam last year called for a boycott of air travel until the routine violations of Fourth Amendment rights were halted. “We will not be abused simply for the privilege of purchasing your services,” a group known as We Won’t Fly notes on its website. “We are eager to fly again, but only when this invasive threat has been contained.”
But now, that might be a moot point. Americans are increasingly likely to be subjected to groping, document checks, and the so-called “porno” naked body scanners no matter how they choose to travel.
Roving bands of TSA workers have been swarming bus stations and other transportation hubs since late 2005. But recently, the TSA has been expanding its use of what it dubs “Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response” (VIPR) teams nationwide. In fact, they are quickly becoming ubiquitous.
“The teams provide a random, announced, high-visibility surge into a transit agency, in addition to enhancing agency resources during special events,” the TSA explains on its website. As early as 2007, the agency threatened to “expand the VIPR concept beyond the rail sector to other forms of mass transit.”
In a bizarre show of force last week, the agency conducted what might have been one of its largest VIPR operations to date. According to a report in the Marietta Times, the exercise involved Blackhawk helicopters, airplanes, “waterborne and surface teams,” and more, covering over 5,000 square miles. The military and the FBI participated, too, as did numerous state and local law enforcement agencies. And it’s about to get worse.
TSA boss John Pistole, whom columnist Becky Akers referred to as “the pervert most responsible for the agency’s sexual violations of passengers,” is now seeking to massively increase the budget for “VIPR” programs. Testifying before Congress earlier this month, Pistole explained that his 25 teams had performed more than 8,000 “operations” during the last year.
But more are needed to “deter” terrorists, he insists. The agency’s 2012 budget request asks taxpayers to fund another 12 VIPR teams. In 2009, the 10 existing bands of roaming TSA workers were costing Americans $30 million. If Pistole gets his way, the 37 squads will be charging taxpayers almost $110 million next year...MORE...LINK