TSA – Not just for airports anymore

Travlin
By Travlin on Sat, Mar 2, 2013 - 11:15pm

You no longer have to go to an airport to be checked by TSA (Transportation Security Administration).  Now you can find them at trains, buses, subways, trolleys, ferries, ports, tunnels, rest areas, even sporting events or while driving down the highway.

In conjunction with other agencies, checkpoints may also look for drugs, cash smuggling, or any other illegal activities – without probable cause.

I invite you to see for yourself.  The following links provide plenty of information.  I leave it to you to connect the dots.  Or get ready to “Present your papers.”

Travlin

TSA at coordinated highway checkpoints.

TSA at NFL football games
Turns out the TSA goes to NFL games and political conventions and all kinds of places that have little or nothing to do with air travel.  Few people know that $105 million of their taxpayer dollars are going to fund 37 VIPR teams in 2012, whose purpose is to "augment" the security of any mode of transportation. They don't realize that these VIPR teams can show up virtually anytime, anywhere and without warning, subjecting you to a search of your vehicle or person.  But almost no one noticed when the Department of Homeland Security signaled its intent to broaden the scope of its off-airport searches even more in 2013.

CNN article from 2012 with very interesting comments
Any courtroom battle over VIPR searches will pick apart the Fourth Amendment, which bars police searches unless there's "probable cause" to believe a crime has been committed.  But the TSA claims "administrative search authority" to conduct random checkpoint searches of passengers and baggage at "surface transportation venues" without probable cause, according to TSA spokeswoman Kimberley Thompson.  "... the administrative search does not require probable cause, but must further an important government need, such as preventing would-be terrorists from bringing an explosive device onto a crowded commuter train," Thompson said.

Los Angeles Times article from 2011 with no comment field
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. (2011)

Quotations from the TSA’s VIPR site:
*  TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program is part of a nationwide transportation security program that serves all modes of transportation.
*  TSA’s VIPR teams provide a full range of law enforcement and security capability …
*  TSA VIPR teams can be deployed at random locations and times in cooperation with local authorities …
*  TSA routinely conducts thousands of VIPR operations each year in transportation systems nationwide.
*  TSA’s VIPR program provides the mechanism through which our law enforcement and security stakeholders can establish solid working relationships to protect you …

Videos
Angry citizen
Trains
Buses
Subways

Articles
Detroit music festival
Forbes article with interesting comments

Wikipedia article

Google – Search “TSA VIPR” and also see “Searches related to tsa vipr” at the bottom of the page.

Previous posts
Please alert me of any previous posts on this topic and I will link to them.
 

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19 Comments

TreeGap's picture
TreeGap
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Boycott.

I recently saw a video in which a three-year old girl in a wheelchair was searched and detained by the TSA.  She and her family were trying to board a plane for their trip to Disneyland.  At one point, the child looked up to the parent holding the camera and cried, "I don't want to go to Disneyland."

Smart kid. 

A few days later, I read that the State of Florida is implementing roadside TSA inspections.

Hmm... sounds like it is time to avoid Disneyland and Florida alltogether.

I can't understand what parent would find this kind of ordeal worthwhile in order to take the kids to Disneyland.  When parents, and others, finally decide that being assaulted by the TSA is not worth the "fun" of going to Disneyland, taking airplanes, attending NFL games, etc.  Eventually, Disneyland, the NFL, etc.  are going to begin to miss our hard-earned $$$$$ that is **NOT** being spent at their venues.

ao's picture
ao
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spare me from this "protection"

Thanks for bringing this up Travlin.  I don't have the time to go into this in detail today but you know that ultimately, they'll be able to search your home or even body cavities as part of a random security checks, with the flimsiest of probable cause.

If we really think about how easy it would be for anyone of reasonable intelligence to pull off a major terrorist event, we have to realize that the official explanations are lies.  These checks have little to do with stopping terrorism.  Either there's not the determined foreign (or now, domestic) terrorist threat that we're led to believe or they are dumber than moonrocks and just as competent.

I think the choice of Tennessee is an interesting one as well.  Does it have anything to do with Oak Ridge National Laboratory or does it have something to do with the firearms industry in Tennessee including Barrett?  Who knows?  Tennesse isn't on the border, it doesn't have a port, it doesn't have a strategic choke point like the Soo Locks, etc.

It does, however, have a population that is very freedom oriented and a long standing tradition of fighting for freedom (think Davy Crockett, Alvin York, etc.) or opposing perceived or real government control (think bootleggers, TVA opposition, etc.).

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TSA - soulless automatons

Couldn't help myself on this one.

I remember when the TSA first started using the porn scanners and would throw up images on the news saying, "Really, this is all we can see." Why would they publicize the image they can see so that the terrorists could use it for educational purposes? They wouldn't. Only the naive would believe we were being shown the true image.

I can only hope for slow lingering...well, never mind.

Travlin's picture
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What about …

Thanks for your posts.  A lot of people don’t like what TSA does in airports now.
*  What do you think about them moving into all other modes of transportation?
*  How long do you think it will be before they are stopping people in their cars?
*  Did you notice that all the news videos and most of the articles included people saying TSA made them feel safer?
*  Did you notice that only the CNN article focused on the issue of illegal search?
*  Do you think we are being conditioned to accept checkpoints anytime we leave the house?  Even walking can be considered transportation.

Travlin

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TSA

Pssssst! TSA! Here's a tip! The Mexican border! Check it out!
What's that? Obama says what? There ain't no terrorists there? They're in the red states?
No man, really! These Mexicans have turbins man! Check it out!
What? What the phuck do you mean, you don't profile?!!??
But dude, they're talkin hate and walking in under cover of darkness! What do you mean that's not your problem? Who's problem is it then? What do you mean it's a Republican problem? It's an American problem isn't it? Holy frijole dude what happened to this country? The TSA isn't serving America man. Who the phuck are you working for?

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Seen one recently?

Psst. Don't look now. There is a Terrorist under your chair.

oxide23's picture
oxide23
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How's the TSA funding with the sequester?

I've read that TSA is going to get hit with budget cuts due to the sequester, how will they afford to increase their capabilities? Any ideas out there on how to make money off this fear?

treebeard's picture
treebeard
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$$$$$

That's the power that we all have. Couldn't agree more. We create the society that we have by the way that we spend our money, plain and simple. The power is in our own hands, every day, ever minute.

robie robinson's picture
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Go Galt

it feels ethical.

anexaminedlife's picture
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Something evil this way comes

I would like to know what lies beneath TSA creep into areas outside their original jurisdiction (and justification). What was/is the process that authorizes TSA to act on trains, planes and busses? Does the Federal government just say (for example), "Hey, Houston Metro we have some TSA VPIR teams we are going to deploy" and voila, there they are without any input from the Metro Board, or does the Board go through some approval process,  or does the Houston Metro Board ask for TSA agents? etc. Surely there is documentation that "justifies" the incursions; maybe it is not transparent but surely it is there. 

How is this happening? Where is the oversight, if any? Is there any transparency? Can we see a paper trail that documents the deployment of TSA at various venues? Seems to me that we can't mount a civil rights attack (futile though it may be) without understanding the nuts and bolts of how TSA is able to extend it tenacles beyond the airports, already egregious enough!

To just make a blanket statement that the federal government just can (for whatever purpose) does not answer the question. Does anyone know of research in this area (i.e. digging up the documentation that allows this to happen anywhere and everywhere)? 

Bankers Slave's picture
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I know its a serious issue. Heres a TSA parody!

LogansRun's picture
LogansRun
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That was funny

Thanks Brian!  That was pretty damn funny.  It sucks that it hits the nail on the head....no pun intended:-)

Brian Maxwell wrote:

Travlin's picture
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Here is what TSA says

anexaminedlife wrote:

I would like to know what lies beneath TSA creep into areas outside their original jurisdiction (and justification). What was/is the process that authorizes TSA to act on trains, planes and busses? Does the Federal government just say (for example), "Hey, Houston Metro we have some TSA VPIR teams we are going to deploy" and voila, there they are without any input from the Metro Board, or does the Board go through some approval process,  or does the Houston Metro Board ask for TSA agents? etc. Surely there is documentation that "justifies" the incursions; maybe it is not transparent but surely it is there. 

Anexaminedlife

TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration.  Any form of transportation is fair game to them.  They have already conducted operations on highways as they are a form of transportation.  By that reasoning, so are city streets and even sidewalks, though I am not aware of them saying this – yet.  Think about it.  Any time you leave your house you are using some form of “transportation”.

They say they created their VIPR teams to expand out of airports in reaction to the Madrid train bombing of 2005.  They say they work in cooperation with local authorities, but some locals disputed the “cooperation” part.  Apparently they are trying to cooperate better now.  They offer warm bodies when locals are short of people and money.  I bet they offer money too.  Think overtime pay for local people attending training sessions relating to the TSA deployments.  Those are pretty good inducements to get your foot in the door.  Besides, it’s to fight terrorism.  Who can be against that?

VIPR emphasizes the random and sudden nature of their appearances as a deterrent to the bad guys.  But all this “cooperation” takes a lot of time and presents lots of security leaks.  You can expect the process to be cloaked in secrecy.  During a “specific alert period” I bet they will want to minimize this and just show up unannounced, for better security and effectiveness you know.  All the more reason to hold these exercises now so the local authorities get with the program.

I spent a lot of hours researching this topic on Google and YouTube.  I found very little coverage by news outlets aside from the local TV videos which were all positive, and only quoted citizens saying this made them feel safer.  They couldn’t very well ignore the checkpoints in their own town.  Other than that the silence is deafening.

The information below from the VIPR website cites their authorization.  There are more links in my original post that you may not have seen.  I hope you and others will pursue this topic further and share any new information with us.

Travlin

From the VIPR website

VIPR wrote:

Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) and the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, TSA has broad responsibility to enhance security in all modes of transportation nationwide.  TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program is part of a nationwide transportation security program that serves all modes of transportation.

Following the Madrid train bombing in 2005, TSA developed the VIPR program to allow TSA security and law enforcement assets to augment federal, state, and local law enforcement and security agencies in the transportation domain.

TSA’s VIPR teams provide a full range of law enforcement and security capability; the exact makeup of VIPR teams is determined jointly with local authorities and can include Federal Air Marshals(FAMs), Transportation Security Officers  (TSOs), Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs), TSA certified explosive detection canine teams, Transportation Security Inspectors (TSIs), Transportation Security Specialists – Explosives (TSSEs), explosives operational support, security and explosive screening technology, radiological/nuclear detection,  and local law enforcement officers.

TSA VIPR teams can be deployed at random locations and times in cooperation with local authorities to deter and defeat terrorist activity; or teams may be deployed to provide additional law enforcement or security presence at transportation venues during specific alert periods or in support of special eventsTSA routinely conducts thousands of VIPR operations each year in transportation systems nationwide.

Experience shows that regional planning and implementation provide the greatest security impact by aligning the frequency of deployments with terrorist risk reduction benefits for specific locations.  VIPR teams work with local security and law enforcement officials to augment existing security resources; provide a deterrent presence and detection capabilities; and introduce an element of unpredictability to disrupt potential terrorist planning or operational activities.

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Tranks Brian

Brian

Thanks for the humor.  This topic can grim people out.

Travlin 

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4th. Amendment Rights

anexaminedlife's picture
anexaminedlife
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Jack boots on the ground

Thanks for the info Travlin. I don't have the time right now but I intend to research this further because I think it is a big deal! Not that anyone will be able to stop this evil ....are we being primed for the totalitarian state? (oh wait, we're already there!) 

I spent just a few minutes looking at the Houston Metro case and I found a blog by a Houston attorney who has an interest in the TSA incursions into Houston ground transportation. Apparently, he is asking some of the same questions (I found the last question most pertinent):

METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia, . . . stated that TSA was here on METRO's request and that METRO set the parameters on the operation. While the purpose of the operation was supposedly to ferret out any terrorists who might be riding the bus, no terrorists were caught. The arrests were for prostitution and drug possession.

We were also informed that TSA agents had been on METRO rail many times in the past but that April 13 was the first time they had gotten involved with the buses. What were TSA agents doing on the trains?

[I]f the board knew as little about the operation as they claimed, who's really running the show down on Main Street? 

This is indeed insidious and along with the fusion centers and all the rest, I am starting to believe the tin foil hat guys are right. 

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Police State intrusion

What has become of America when DHS is stopping people in their vehicles for no reason, far away from an international border entry?! Carry a camera folks (keep it running) and exercise your constitutional rights like those in the video did.  

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Cross thread discussion

TSA and VIPR were discussed starting with post 9 in this thread.

THC0655 posted an interesting story there – VIPR team stops Chicago train.

Travlin

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Good points THC

NOTE - This is a reply to a discussion about TSA on another thread you can read here starting at post 9.

THC

thc0655 wrote:

First, everything I have read (admittedly not a lot) seems to indicate TSA VIPR teams only operate outside airports when they are "cooperating" with other law enforcement agencies with bona fide jurisdiction over that particular location.  For instance, at the TSA VIPR  web site you provided the link to (thanks!) one sentence says: TSA VIPR teams can be deployed at random locations and times in cooperation with local authorities to deter and defeat terrorist activity; or teams may be deployed to provide additional law enforcement or security presence at transportation venues during specific alert periods or in support of special events.  TSA routinely conducts thousands of VIPR operations each year in transportation systems nationwide.  See the phrase "in cooperation with local authorities"?

I think you are right that it would take a lawyer to answer this question and then court decisions to confirm it.  Notice that it does not say by invitation of local jurisdictions.  During some operations they were severely criticized by local authorities for the lack of “cooperation”.  According to Wiki in a 2008 Inspector General report, “It especially discussed the controversial VIPR deployments on the weekend of July fourth in 2007. The TSA gave only short notice the local authorities about the VIPR plans, and did not consult them”.  “In another case Amtrak Police Chief John O'Connor described the TSA behavior as illegal, in violation of Amtrak policy, and simply nonsensical. The incident led Amtrak to temporarily ban VIPR teams from Amtrak property”  
Source
See more here

Was this “ban” backed by political power, or law?  I would not be surprised if VIPR thinks they do have legal authority to go anywhere uninvited, but are downplaying this for now.  Are you sure that VIPR teams don’t have the power of arrest?  I’m not.

NAME wrote:

So, if the Houston PD wants to swoop in on a bus station they can invite TSA to assist under the HPD's jurisdiction.   However, more likely (behind the scenes) the TSA would approach HPD and ask if they'd like to participate in a joint action at a bus station.  Then this is described for PR purposes as an HPD initiative supported by TSA.

Yep.  And how often does TSA approach, bribe, or coerce the locals to get an invitation?  Last year they had 37 VIPR teams and those, “thousands of VIPR operations each year”, now number over 10,000 if I remember correctly.  That’s an awful lot of invitations.

THC wrote:

Second, I have yet to read or hear about a TSA VIPR action where there was absolutely no local or state law enforcement presence.  This would be consistent with the above.

At this point I can’t confirm or deny this.  They trying to rebuild their PR image now from the early mistakes.  That may not mean they are legally required to have locals present.

THC wrote:

But the larger issue is: to what extent can the TSA say it's activities outside of airports has contributed in any concrete way to the deterrence and apprehension of TERRORISTS?!  I don't know about you, but I have never heard of ANY TSA activity away from an airport that could remotely be claimed to have legitimately contributed to the deterrence or apprehension of terrorists.

Yep.  And what price are we expected to pay in civil liberties? 

Finally, I too think they are afraid to ride in a patrol car and face real terrorist like street cops do everyday.

If you want to know more there are a lot of sources in the original post.  I’d be very interested in what you find.  Thanks for the good discussion.

Travlin

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