DC Metro Leading the Fight Against Terror!

It was bound to happen, right?

[DC] Metro officials announced today that they will begin randomly inspecting backpacks, gym bags and any other containers that riders carry with them onto the bus and rail system, in an effort to deter possible terrorist attacks. 

Beginning today, signs announcing the new program will be posted at each of the rail system's 117 mezzanines, where faregates are located. Officials said Metro's program —announced at a morning news conference—was not begun in response to any specific terrorist threat, but was prompted by continuing concerns about transit security and the upcoming election and inauguration of a new president.

"We realize that all Americans everywhere are at some risk from terrorism, and that those of us who live and work in the region of the nation's capital face increased risks," Metro Transit police chief Michael Taborn said.

The inspections will take place when transit police determine that circumstances—such as an elevated threat level—warrant heightened vigilance. They will not be announced ahead of time. Inspections will be conducted by five to eight specially trained Metro Transit police officers and a police dog trained to sniff for explosives...

And of course, some of their procedures are just for the "appearance" of actually doing something: 

In the searches, transit police will choose a random number ahead of time, such as 17. Then they will ask every 17th rider step aside and have his or her bags searched before boarding a bus or entering a rail station.

Overall, the searches don't sound too unreasonable—no confiscation of suspicious luggage and no arrests for non-compliant riders, just denied entrance to the metro—but then there's this part:

If transit police find illegal items such as drugs, the item will be seized and the person will be arrested.

Commenters, feel free to enlighten me as to the correlation between pot and terrorism.

Hat tip to Mike Debonis.

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  • Kolohe||

    If transit police find illegal items such as drugs, the item will be seized and the person will be arrested.

    This can't possibly past muster even with a Scalia influenced court.

  • The Extispicator||

    Islamic Fundamentalists may eschew alcohol, but they are all total potheads. Its the reefer madness that makes 'em go crazy and decide to blow stuff up.

  • Guy Montag||

    They just got the AC working last month, for the first time all year. I doubt they will be catching any terrorists even if they searched every bag and pocket entering the system.

    Mike, I am puzzled as you about the pot connection.

  • ||

    This can't possibly past muster...

    nothing surprises me any more.

  • ||

    I ride NYC Transit and I never had much of a problem with the random bag searches, especially since they seem to not profile me (I'm South Asian), but the last part of this post points out a problem:

    If transit police find illegal items such as drugs, the item will be seized and the person will be arrested.



    If cops find illegal shit on you, how could they possibly not arrest you? They get paid specifically to do that. Clearly, something that common people do frequently without harming others or themselves should not be illegal and thus hamper something fairly innocuous like a bag search. Neither should reasonable weapons for self-defense be illegal to conceal in a bag.

    Any opinions (I know this topic has been discussed here before, though I'm not sure of the conclusions if any, so a link should suffice) on whether random searches are unreasonable? (4th amendment type stuff, etc) I don't much mind, but that doesn't make it okay or appropriately legal.


    [total tangent: I *have* been profiled by NYPD before, somewhat, but not in connection with a search]

  • ||

    DC is now a '4th Amendment Free Zone'...following the boot stomps of Bloom-berg, oops, NYC...where is the legalese statement that 'all who enter here forfeit rights, freedoms and liberty'? Down here in Texas, our DPS has asked the AG to approve 'driver license checkpoints', er, roadblocks without legislative approval. The lege killed this for several sessions, guess the controllers are getting anxious.

  • No Name Guy||

    Yet another reason to fight transit proposals that the libs want to foist on all of us.

    Let's see.....get the masses dependent on public transit, then we can claim that since it's public, we get to search everyone going on board without a warrant. Yup....a recipie for a free society.

  • ||

    But if you have pot in your bag, you could just say no (to searching) right? It violates your rights for them to force you to incriminate yourself, yeah?

  • JLE||

    I always carry a backpack and have never been searched, even though NYC has been doing this for quite some time. Anyone there is privy to the intercom announcement, "Your bags may be searched at any time." Says who? Them.

  • ||

    Kolohe | October 27, 2008, 2:37pm | #
    If transit police find illegal items such as drugs, the item will be seized and the person will be arrested.

    This can't possibly past muster even with a Scalia influenced court.



    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    *breathe*
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Seriously though.... that last paragraph highlights what this is about -- it's not "terrorism", that's for sure. And considering that the 4th amendment no longer exists (then again, does any of the Bill of Rights still exist except the 3rd Amendment?), it will surely be upheld.

  • ||

    feel free to enlighten me as to the corrolation between pot and terrorism

    Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

  • Invisible Finger||

    Problem: Government in debt.

    Solution: More asset forfeiture.


    The only difference is the bullshit excuses.

  • ||

    They've been doing this for a while in Boston. They're only going to catch the terrorist that doesn't pay attention to the 3 transit police cars parked in front of the station that morning. It's theater of the absurd. Here they just swab the exterior of your bag and run it through their shizolator to see if there's any cooties on it. They don't actually open it.


    feel free to enlighten me as to the corrolation between pot and terrorism

    They're both bad mmmmkay?

  • A Bold Fresh Piece of Human Ex||

    Rupert, Roger, Sean and I are looking forward to home searches of the like. You never know when some terrorist may be cooking up some plot to harm the regular folk.

    Read my book, pinheads!

  • Mike Laursen||

    The authorities are going about this random search thing all wrong. When they pull someone out of line for a random search, they need to hand them a lotto ticket or a coupon for Sizzler. Pretty soon the American public will consider it good luck to be fingered for a baggage search.

  • ||

    Jesus, you don't expect cops to buy their own drugs do you?

  • Rev. \"Suds\" Pshaw||

    There's really only ONE phrase to remember when confronted my the Gestapo:

    "No -- I will NOT comply... Period!"

  • ||

    I can't wait to see what happens when they try the random number check during an AM rush hour at a busy station -- for example, Union Station where it's not unusual for multiple commuter trains to arrive simultaneously and you have hundreds of (or a couple thousand even?) passengers headed toward the Metro platform all at once.

    It will be utter chaos and probably the last time they attempt it.

  • ||

    If transit police find illegal items such as drugs, the item will be seized and the person will be arrested.

    Why, in non-existent Heaven's name, why did I know that was coming.

    But, considering it's D.C., they're Dems. So I'm sure they're much more respectful of our constitutionally protected rights and civil liberties than the evil GOP. Somehow, some way.

    The inspections will take place when transit police determine that circumstances-such as an elevated threat level-warrant heightened vigilance. [emphasis added]


    That translates to whenever we fuckin' feel like it, bitches!

  • Ironic||

    "Problem: Government in debt.

    Solution: More asset forfeiture.


    The only difference is the bullshit excuses."

    Which is why I am seriously considering a move to the Bahamas.

  • ||

    I am mystified as to how any of this passes Constitutional muster. If this isn't a warrantless search, what would be?

  • Guy Montag||

    Yea, this is so strange coming from a Democrat Leftotopia. I am just so amazed.

    Next thing you know, the other Leftotopias will be trying to take away guns and jailing protestors.

  • ||

    Hmmmmmm...interesting, Guy. What IS the partisan makeup of St. Paul, MN?

  • ||

    Will Metro cards now have language about your entry into the station qualifying as consent for a search, like ticket to Major League Baseball games?

  • ||

    R C Dean - technically, compliance is optional, because you're just denied entrance to the Metro (if you refuse). You won't have your stuff seized for refusal.

  • ||

    "Okay, Sir; if you do not wish to submit to a search, I cannot compel you. Now, if you'll just sign this form, saying that you declined to be searched, and show me two pieces of identification with a current address, you can be on your way."

  • ||

    Non-compliance results in denying access to the metro and not arrest: this is the provision that guarantees the total ineffectiveness of this measure.

    Imagine you are a terrorist trying to denote a bomb on the metro. You are approached by the Metro Terror Squad, and predictably, you refuse to submit to a search, and are escorted from the metro.

    Cost to you? Zero
    Risk to you? Zero
    Deterrent effect? Zero

    Try again tomorrow. Or later today, or at another station.

    5-8 Guards divided by 117 stations... and they have to 'catch' (ie: turn away) every terrorist every time, or they've accomplished nothing.

    I don't like the term security theatre: its demeaning to theatre. Lets go with "fradulent and deceptive waste of time and money that erodes the rights of law abiding types while troubling terrorists not at all"

  • Geoff Nathan||

    I can't wait to see what happens when they try the random number check during an AM rush hour at a busy station -- for example, Union Station where it's not unusual for multiple commuter trains to arrive simultaneously and you have hundreds of (or a couple thousand even?) passengers headed toward the Metro platform all at once.

    It will be utter chaos and probably the last time they attempt it.


    Why do you believe that the chaos that results will have any effect on the search process? Since the cops have nothing to lose by making folks late for work, and no incentive to move the line along, we should expect the reaction you get if you miss your flight due to the security lines being backed up. 'You should have started out earlier'.

  • ||

    I'm not condoning any type of warrantless search, but how is this at all surprising? I mean, obviously this is going to be a logistical nightmare at any busy station, but people willingly submit to warrantless searches every time they board a plane. What's so special about the Metro that it doesn't get to do the same things?

  • Zeb||

    Since they are only going to search every Xth person, all the terrorists need to do is to have two guys with bombs go in at the same time and one of them is bound to get in without any problem.

  • cunnivore||

    Of course this is on very shaky constitutional ground, as the transit system is funded by taxpayers, so everyone has to pay for it whether they use it or not.

    However, if you're so addicted to a drug that you have to take a supply on the Metro with you, you've got a problem.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    Since they are only going to search every Xth person, all the terrorists need to do is to have two guys with bombs go in at the same time and one of them is bound to get in without any problem.

    As others have pointed out, this in no way prevents terrorist attacks, but it does look good, and employs police officers who might otherwise be investigating actual victimful crimes. So it's win-win.

  • ||

    However, if you're so addicted to a drug that you have to take a supply on the Metro with you, you've got a problem.

    Maybe you're just visiting a friend. You wouldn't call a dude taking a sixer to his friend's place an alcoholic, you'd call him a good guest.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    You wouldn't call a dude taking a sixer to his friend's place an alcoholic, you'd call him a good guest.



    That depends entirely on the kind of beer.

  • Fluffy||

    http://www.enfacto.com/case/U.S./271/583/

    In Frost and Frost Trucking Company v. Railroad Commission of the State of California the Supreme Court held:

    It would be a palpable incongruity to strike down an act of state legislation which, by words of express divestment, seeks to strip the citizen of rights guaranteed by the federal Constitution, but to uphold an act by which the same result is accomplished under the guise of a surrender of a right in exchange for a valuable privilege which the state threatens otherwise to withhold. It is not necessary to challenge the proposition that, as a general rule, the state, having power to deny a privilege altogether, may grant it upon such conditions as it sees fit to impose. But the power of the state in that respect is not unlimited, and one of the limitations is that it may not impose conditions which require the relinquishment of constitutional rights. If the state may compel the surrender of one constitutional right as a condition of its favor, it may, in like manner, compel a surrender of all. It is inconceivable that guaranties embedded in the Constitution of the United States may thus be manipulated out of existence.



    Can someone tell me in what cases this principle was overturned? Because it would pretty much have to be directly overturned to make searches of this kind legal.

  • ||

    It is inconceivable that guaranties embedded in the Constitution of the United States may thus be manipulated out of existence.

    How quaint.

    Something tells me this was swept aside long before 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11!

  • Guy Montag||

    Sounds like I need to stay on the VA side of the river, clinging to my guns and religion.

    Wait, they have the METRO here too . . .

  • guy in the back row||

    I've been searched 4 times by the cops at either my local station or the wall street station. My guess is that it is due to racial profiling: I'm 6'1" and look Irish.

    As far as the cops are concerned I'm completely safe to hassle.

  • ||

    Bra-ZIL, da da da dee da, da da da...

  • ||

    Sounds like I need to stay on the VA side of the river, clinging to my guns and religion.

    Wait, they have the METRO here too . . .


    Good point. The entire system is "policed" by the Metro Transit Police, who are well-remembered here for handcuffing a 11-yo girl for chewing gum on the subway...

    This is going to have to pass court challenges in Maryland, DC and Virginia, or it could lead to different policies in different stations.

  • ||

    no arrests for non-compliant riders, just denied entrance to the metro

    There's no way that lasts - some variant of 'the innocent have nothing to fear' will be trotted out in no time flat.

  • Fluffy||

    OK, I've been looking at that Frost & Frost Trucking case above, and apparently its central finding survives as the Doctrine of Unconsitutional Conditions.

    There has some equivocating on the application of this doctrine in some shitty O'Connor era decisions, but nothing too crazy.

    Help me out here: why hasn't Frost been used to wipe out bag checks of this kind, the automatic forfeiture of licenses for DUI suspects who claim their 5th Amendment rights, Title IX, drug testing for high school athletics, airport security checks, etc.? Hey lazy-ass libertarian legal groups, how about getting on the stick here, gents?

  • ||

    What's this 4th Amendment you all speak of? I only learned about a 1st, 14th, 16th and 19th. There are others? My teacher said those were the only ones left and not to bother researching anything else.

  • Alice Bowie||

    The ONLY Purpose for this policy is for DRUG ENFORCEMENT. THIS has NOTHING to DO with TERRORISM.

    No TERRORIST is going to allow the COPS to FIND a Bomb in his backpack. He would simply blow himself up WITH THE COPS around them....AND THE COPS know that.

  • ||

    MassHole- you left out the sign board they prop up outside Boston T stations that says "TRANSIT SAFETY SEARCHES IN PROGRESS!" Terrorists are a lot less competent than the government gives them credit for, but they'd have to be retarded to get caught this way.

    They usually have a rookie cop working the hand ticker like a bouncer to decide who they search. I've found its best to give him a look that unmistakably says "If I miss the next train because of you, I'll rip off your head and shit down your neck". I have yet to be searched.

  • ||

    Overall, the searches don't sound too unreasonable-no confiscation of suspicious luggage and no arrests for non-compliant riders, just denied entrance to the metro-but then there's this part:

    It is a constant source of interest to me how often the response to tyranny is to readjust what we consider tyrannical.

  • anarch||

    Commenters, feel free to enlighten me as to the correlation between pot and terrorism.



    Marco Polo?

  • ||

    Print out the 4th Amendment in large-sized font and keep it on your person at all times. Hopefully it will make these people think about what they're doing, if only for a second.

  • bob||

    makes me look forward to universal energy, transportation and healthcare.

    "you're next for the TBS (Terrorist Brain Scan) Mr. Bob."

  • Just Plain Brian||

    Print out the 4th Amendment in large-sized font and keep it on your person at all times.



    Or just wear This Shirt

  • ||

    Where is the plane that hit the pentagon?
    I have yet to see evidence that a plane hit the pentagon.

    Can fire really bring down 110 story steel and concrete building down in one houre of burning and turn it to dust?


    Some of you human sheeps that are afraid to ask, I feel sorry for you. Just watch this video. Make sure you hide in a basement of your house while watching it.
    As you know, you may be arrested for watching this video.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5714975155113419363

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7866929448192753501

  • John Thomsen||

    i take the metro eveery day... I could EASILY walk on with three grenades in my backpac and fuck up the whole cart killing a shitload of people commuting.. its retarded how easy an attack would be, and im pretty sure they will attack the rails. by the way its 2010 and i have never been searched or even seen a "officer" searching others and i take the metro every day twice a day

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