Is That a Bomb in Your Backpack, or Just a Bag of Weed?

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Police in New York City have begun randomly searching the bags of subway riders for explosives. Since they will be able to check only a small percentage of bags, the main point of the policy seems to be creating the appearance of safety:

William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, an industry group, said comprehensive coverage of any major urban transit system would be next to impossible. "If you were going to try to check a very high percentage at every station or on every train, it would be incredibly labor-intensive," he said.

Still, he said, the searches could deter would-be attackers and improve the public's confidence. "The public wants to feel safe, as well as be safe," he said. "So this has a benefit of perception."

Is the benefit of perception worth the cost of privacy? Police say anyone who doesn't want to open his bag won't be allowed on the subway but will otherwise be free to go. If you "consent" to a search, however, you will be subject to arrest should the police find drugs, an illegal weapon, or (presumably) any other contraband. That secondary purpose makes it less likely that the searches will pass constitutional muster, since they are not aimed simply at preventing terrorist attacks (or even creating the illusion of preventing terrorist attacks).

NEXT: Permanentizing the Patriot Act

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  1. Dammit, people, just cut the bullshit and repeal the Bill of Rights already. I can stomach honest in-your-face totalitarianism more easily than hypocritical “Oh yes we’re still a free country despite all this” bullshit.

    Minor threadjack: speaking of repealing the Bill of Rights, Mississippi has decided it will no longer pay for defense lawyers to represent indigent defendants. So you have the right to an attorney–if you’re rich enough to afford one.

  2. Systematized? Every certain number?

    Does Chief Kelly speak English as a first language?

    “Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly promised “a systematized approach” in the searches and said the basis for selecting riders for the checks would not be race, ethnicity or religion. The New York Civil Liberties Union questioned the legality of the searches, however, and Mr. Kelly said department lawyers were researching the constitutional implications.

    “Every certain number of people will be checked,” Mr. Kelly said.”

  3. as i said to my co-worker yesterday, a lot more people are going to be taking cabs after hitting the weed spot. other than that….

  4. Also see comments on the “Fighting the Man” thread from yesterday.

  5. Minor threadjack: speaking of repealing the Bill of Rights, Mississippi has decided it will no longer pay for defense lawyers to represent indigent defendants. So you have the right to an attorney–if you’re rich enough to afford one.

    You know, I’ve always wondered about that: does the right to “have the Assistance of Counsel for [the accused’s] defence” imply that it must be given to him or simply that it may not be denied him?

  6. How about this for a headline:
    Is that a bomb in your pocket, or are you just thinking of those 72 virgins?

  7. Speaking of Ugh’s comment, I actually HOPE that a lot of harmless non-terrorists get arrested as a result of this. And no, it’s not because I enjoy watching people have their lives ruined–it’s because I’m sick of watching the government ruin people’s lives.

    On the “Fighting the Man” thread, Thoreau and I had a mini-conversation about the fact that Oregon’s talking about making cold remedies like Sudafed and Theraflu prescription-only, and Thoreau said that maybe THIS would be the final straw to turn people against the War on Drugs. But we both doubt it.

    Our civil liberties have been eroding for decades now, and nobody does anything about it because they say, “Oh, well, this isn’t affecting me or my loved ones,” or “Oh, well, it’s really just a tiny, minor inconvenience, not worth fighting over.”

    So I want things to get worse. I want everybody to say “This IS affecting me or my loved ones” and “This is a HUGE inconvenience,” because that’s the only chance that we’ll FINALLY pull together and do something about it. And if we don’t. . . well, then there’s no hope for this country anyway, and no point in putting off the inevitable.

  8. I say they just get on with it and set up metal detectors and start confiscating nailclippers. The upshot is, with a 2 hour wait to get into the subway station, nobody will ever be complaining about the subways being late or not running on time. Plus, I sure know I feel safer when I know that nobody could hijack a subway with a nailclipper and terroristicly derail it killing everyone. Faith-based terrorists be thwarted!

  9. “Is the benefit of perception worth the cost of privacy?”

    Is the point about deterrence going to be completely ignored?

  10. What is the legal status of evidence gathered by intelligence operatives as part of military or intl operations? Is it admissable in criminal trials?

    It seems like evidence of criminal acts (ie, bags of weed) found through these searches should be treated the same way.

  11. “Is the point about deterrence going to be completely ignored?”

    Sir, please open your backpack so I can have a look. But don’t take your shoes off. I know you could hide explosives in there, as it has been done before. But we’re trying to deter people from bringing bombs in their bags.

  12. What if the searches aren’t random? What if the police are told to seek out “anything unusual?” Or if they’re given a set of criteria to indicate who warrents extra attention?

    How do the answers to these questions change if evidence of crimes found in these searches is ruled inadmissable?

  13. Pretty soon they’ll feel up the subway rider’s chests to check for bomb-vests, too.

    Here’s something I wrote in the “fighting the man” thread that I want to paste here:

    Joe-
    So how much freedom are you personally willing to give up to enjoy the illusion of safety? In New York City, a car is an albatross that only the wealthy can afford to have. So you, Joe, Mr. Champion of the Poor and Downtrodden, have no problem with basically saying that New York’s working class can say good-bye to the right to go to work or visit a friend without having the government search them and their personal possessions based on a whim, not a warrant.

    As a person who officially qualified as Poor and Downtrodden until relatively recently, I’d like to say on behalf of my socioeconomic class: help yourself all you fucking want but for God’s sake stop shoving your help down my throat.

    Aw, fuck it. To prevent these random searches from clogging up the subway lines, maybe New York can ED some poor folk’s homes to tear down and build Search Waiting Rooms. And Joe the Wise City Planner can determine just which houses have to go, and just where to search to provide maximum mixed-use utopian benefit. Please, Joe, tell me how to run my life! I can’t be trusted with that big, scary responsibility on my own!

  14. What’s next, metal detectors? shoe removal? toenail clipper confiscation? Just a matter of time.

    Jennifer, on your post about Mississippi, in my state the Bar is proposing a rule requiring attorney’s to handle some of the Public Defender’s caseload pro bono. I would venture an educated guess that Mississippi is doing/going to do the same thing. It is the beginning of a nasty national trend that will pit contract/transaction/tax/white shoe lawyers against trial hardened prosecutors.

  15. Jennifer,

    Here’s something I wrote in this thread: “Is the point about deterrence going to be completely ignored?”

    And if you’re going to insist that you know public safety better than, say, the FBI and NYPD, and that there are never any difficult questions about balancing the competing interests of safety and personal autonomy, than yes, you probably are too thoughtless to run your own life.

  16. Richard-
    While I believe indigent defendants should be given free legal counsel, I don’t support forcing lawyers to work for free. In Massachusetts, a lot of public defenders are refusing to take cases because the state’s pay is so low that after paying for office fees and paralegal wages and other expenses of being a lawyer, they were actually making less than minimum wage.

  17. And if you’re going to insist that you know public safety better than, say, the FBI and NYPD, and that there are never any difficult questions about balancing the competing interests of safety and personal autonomy, than yes, you probably are too thoughtless to run your own life.

    Can you answer my question without resorting to the logical fallacy known as “Argument from Authority?”

  18. Can you make an argument without resorting to hysteria?

    I’m sorry, excuse me. Can! You! Make!…

  19. Sometimes, Jennifer, people actually are authorities on a subject.

  20. Gee, I hope this guy wasn’t planning on taking anyone’s house.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4706787.stm

  21. Is the point about deterrence going to be completely ignored?

    Can it be statistically and numerically quantified? Not that this would make such searches right, mind you, but it’s pretty silly to pass laws and remove people’s freedoms because somebody feels that it would.

    For reference, please see the death penalty.

  22. joe,

    So now “anything unusual” is the same thing as “probable cause”?

    Nice to see our public servants behaving more and more like Sharia Fundamentalists every day.

  23. Is the point about deterrence going to be completely ignored?

    Terrorist #1: Ha, at last, our terrorist attack will bring the infidels of New York to their knees.

    Terrorist #2: Yes, the subway will stink of the bodies of the evildoers, until the birds of the air come down to gorge themselves on their flesh. Allah Akbar.

    Terrorist #3: Guys! I just saw on the news, they’re going to do systematized searches of each certain number of subway riders!

    Terrorist #1: Crap! What do we do now?

    Terrorist #2: (sigh) Well, I guess we’ll have to effect change via the ballot box now.

  24. A lawyer friend of mine who defends drug offenders and medical marijuana patients told me to never put your weed in a backpack, fanny pack, rucksack, purse, etc. Keep it in your pocket for 2 reasons. 1) Quick and discreet disposal in a crunch, 2)Your bags are more likely to be searched for “safety purposes.” He also said to keep it in a lock box while traveling in a car because if its locked, only a warrant signed by a judge can legally open it.

  25. Well, less silly than just going about infringing on people’s rights willy-nilly because someone feels that it would deter the goblins.

  26. Joe-
    I take it that your answer to my question would be “no,” then.

    So what about the point that this will almost exclusively effect NYC’s working classes? Those minimum-wage workers you so worry about who can’t afford a twenty-dollar cab ride to get to work are the ones who won’t be able to live their normal lives without being subject to random searches by the government. Oh well; if they deserved freedom and dignity they’d have the paystubs to prove it.

    There were also a lot of arguments brought up in yesterday’s discussion that you did not answer; my favorite was the poster who pointed out that your argument would make a perfect argument in favor of Stalinism.

  27. joe,

    While some people may be experts on how to effectively reduce threats to safety, you can’t assume that more security is universally desirable.

    As long as increases in safety come at a cost to freedom, convenience, privacy, or any of the other things that people value, then the “right” amount of safety, is going to be a subjective evaluation. Individuals have different preferences for all of these “goods”. Therefore, no authority can possibly know how much security is “the right amount” better than the individual in question.

    If you want to be safer in the subway, buy some body armour.

  28. He also said to keep it in a lock box while traveling in a car because if its locked, only a warrant signed by a judge can legally open it.

    I thought an officer could require you to open your (locked) trunk as part of a probable-cause search. If so, I don’t see how a lockbox could be off-limits.

  29. crimethink-

    When first hearing about the lock box, I to was dismayed and sought clarification. A locked trunk (or glove box) does not assume a right to privacy in the public, but a locked box inside the trunk can be. I have no intention of testing that though. My lawyer friend and I do live in Washington state, but he did qualify as anywhere I drive.

  30. Is the point about deterrence going to be completely ignored?

    What deterrence? You have the “freedom” to refuse the search and try again at another station.

  31. Police say anyone who doesn’t want to open his bag won’t be allowed on the subway but will otherwise be free to go.

    I am dubious to how free free is!

  32. If you think the subway searches will only impact the working classes, please come take a ride with me and check out all the professionals like me who ride the subway. I take the 2 train from Wall Street to Times Sq every day because (1) I’m cheap, and (2) it’s faster.

    I predict, though, that these searches will hardly be noticed by us Manhattanites. We have become so accustomed to restrictions on our liberty that we hardly care anymore. As with city-destroying rent control, garbage on the streets, city income taxes, smoking bans, attempts to sell public property for less than market value to one of the mayor’s friends, crumbling infrastructure, and the countless other intrusions of government into our daily lives, we will just get used to it and still defend our city as the best in the world.

  33. Regarding random searches: I think there is a huge difference between using them as a means to bust someone for carrying an implement of violence versus someone just carrying a joint.

    If the cops can’t differentiate between the two, then fuck them.

  34. More points cut and pasted from yesterday;s thread:

    Well, whatever you feel about the appropriateness of searching transit passengers, the fact that the proposal does virtually nothing to enhance safety while imposing significant costs in terms of hassle, invasion of privacy and potential incarceration for non-terrorist related crimes like carrying a joint, ought to be enough to prove its undesirability.–Brian Courts

    Cuz a bad guy might decide that a bunch of people standing in a line, slowed down by cops and checkpoints, constitute a “target rich environment.–Thoreau

    Jesus, what a bunch of pussies. “Oh, freedom is so scary. People could do bad things to me.” Well no fucking shit. I take it that the concept of living in a free country is just too fucking scary. Freedom by its very definition mean risk.
    I have a suggestion: China. They have lots of rules. You don’t hear too much about terrorists acts happening in china. And they don’t have any of that due process crap to get in thier way.–Troy

    one has to wonder at the manpower that’s going to be required in order to search even a tiny fraction (say, 1%) of MTA riders. With over 7 million daily subway and bus riders, that’s about 70,000 searches a day. If they’re stopping 1 out of every 100 riders, that’s maybe (totally guessing here) one every six minutes, or ten an hour. That’s 80 searches per cop per day. Divided into 70,000 equals… 875 cops! Who apparently have nothing better to do. –Rhywun

  35. Jennifer,
    We have at least two issues swirling here.
    The reason China has few terrorists is because China is not crusading.
    The US could save billions on public safety by changing its crusading foreign so-called policy.

  36. jc,

    “So now “anything unusual” is the same thing as “probable cause”?” No, it’s not. That’s why I don’t agree with using evidence discovered through such searches in criminal trials.

    Jennifer, “So what about the point that this will almost exclusively effect NYC’s working classes?” I think that sucks. I also think someone who was actually concerned about the working class straphangers of New York would consider their right to life to be worth a little consideration, too.

    “There were also a lot of arguments brought up in yesterday’s discussion that you did not answer” Yeah, sorry about that, I had a Habitat for Humanity meeting.

    BTW, the fact that you consider “This is a slippery slope to STALINISM!” to be one of your favorite arguments doesn’t speak well of you.

  37. So I want things to get worse. I want everybody to say “This IS affecting me or my loved ones” and “This is a HUGE inconvenience,” because that’s the only chance that we’ll FINALLY pull together and do something about it. And if we don’t. . . well, then there’s no hope for this country anyway, and no point in putting off the inevitable.

    Jennifer,

    Do you honestly thin that most people would do anything about it even then. I’d bet that they wouldn’t react publicly, and if they did, it would be to blame Muslims for the loss of freedom.

    As far as the legal counsel issue goes, given how complex our legal system has become, unrepresented poor defendants will be convicted a very high rate.

  38. Correction, Ruthless: China has plenty of terrorists. They work for the state.

  39. Ha, I didn’t even see Jennifer’s pasted quotes before I explained why I hadn’t responded.

    I’m doing a little chicken dance in my office right now.

    Because of my disrespect for poor people, you see.

  40. I really don’t get it… so a terrorist walks up… the unlikely happens and security asks to search his bag, he refuses and walks to the next station…

    Wow!, now it’s marginally more difficult to perform simultaneous attacks… well, they’d have to plan for a slightly longer timeframe anyway.

    Unless this option to refuse the search is bullshit, this whole thing is worse than merely cosmetic. The plan is to waste security’s (and the public’s) time with useless searches. I feel safe now.

  41. Russ R,

    And while we’re at it, we should disband the Air Force, and just invite citizens to fire their personal firearms skyward in case of an attack.

    Providing physical security is a collective effort, and a collective responsibility. That’s why the founders of our Constitution assigned it to the state.

  42. Jacob,

    I am curious about your assertion that the second part (anything they find will be subject to prosecution). If someone consents to a search, it’s well established that the 4th amendment permits the police to recover evidence of any crime, regardless of the original purpose of the search.

    And the search of “every-x-number” is a neutral, articulable standard that is the same standard used in upholding the “every-x-car” stops standard used to justify DUI and immigration checkpoints.

    While no fan of these things myself, I am skeptical of the claim that recovering evidence of other crimes will fail to pass constitutional muster — especially where the searches are consented to.

    The only challenge I can see is the fact that, as far as I know anyway, these random stops have only been used to justify searches of cars. And only when the crime being guarded against are ones particular to cars (DUI, transporting aliens, etc.).

    And people aren’t cars, so there’s that. But I could see the state arguing that preventing subway bombs can only be done by inspecting the instrumentalities of their transport (bags, and presumably pat downs of clothing, since people could be strapped with them instead of putting them in their bags). Just as DUI can only be verified and stopped by checking for drunk drivers while they are in their cars.

    And of course, if an officer finds evidence of another crime during a DUI stop, the state can proseucte the driver on whatever other crimes that evidence suggests. So I’m skeptical at the moment that this would be treated any differently. I’d like to be wrong about this, and I don’t know about any other types of checkpoints states have tried and failed to establish. But on the basis of the ones I know about, it looks like enough of a parallel here that it more than likely would pass constitutional muster.

  43. And of course the really sad fact is that if anyone does bomb the subway, we probably won’t notice the difference. In fact, a little scorching might improve the appearance of some platforms.

  44. Joe-
    As for the Stalinism remark, I haven’t heard of a single totalitarian government, ever, who came right out and said “We’re taking away your rights because we like power.” No, no, it’s always for the public safety. And as for the idea that Cops Know Best–Amadou Diallo, among others, might aruge that point if they weren’t dead.

    David-
    Considering that Americans are now so chickenshit that they’re afraid they’ll instantly drop dead if a person smokes a cigarette 200 yards upwind of them, maybe not. But in that case, we as a people don’t deserve freedom anyway.

  45. andy d, et al,

    The response of a suspect to a lawful request by a cop can create a “reasonable suspicion,” or even “probably cause.”

    If the guy’s eyes bug out, he starts sweating profusely, and stalks off quickly while casting worried glances back at the police, the cops at nearby stations are probabl going to hear something about it over their radios.

    Oh, no! What a terrible invasion of personal freedom! Someone who acts squirrely at the security measures at subways during a campaign of bombing subways might get extra attention from the cops! Quick, call the Institute for Justice!

  46. Jennifer, “As for the Stalinism remark, I haven’t heard of a single totalitarian government, ever, who came right out and said “We’re taking away your rights because we like power.” No, no, it’s always for the public safety.”

    John is a man. Therefore, all men are John.

    Totalitarian government use public safety as an excuse to enlarge power. Therefore, all policies justified for public safety are excuses by totalitarians to enlarge power.

  47. Joe:

    That word “balancing” that you use has had nasty implications for modern jurisprudence. You see, “balancing” is just a code word for “my own personal axiological proclivities.”
    You see, if you are one of those pussies who is scared of the risks freedom entails and are naive enough think the feds know what the fuck they are talking about, then where you place the “fulcrum” is going to be different than someone is is not scared of freedom and is willing to punish people after they do something wrong and is aware of how the government is the most fertile soil for the Peter Principle.
    So, I say, fuck balancing.

    And Jennifer, I want to marry you.

  48. And while we’re at it, we should disband the Air Force, and just invite citizens to fire their personal firearms skyward in case of an attack.

    Reductio ad absurdum.

    again.

    Joe, you’re a broken record.

  49. Interesting that no one has mentioned anything about racial profiling yet. Unless I missed something.

  50. joe,

    So, you’re free to refuse to be searched — but your refusal may be considered probable cause for a search.

    Yep, no 4th Ammendment problems there.

  51. I wouldn’t be surprised if the baggage-checkers have walkie-talkies to communicate to other officers which people refuse searches. Something along “be on the lookout for a 6’2″ white male, black shirt, approximately 260 lbs. Refused a search at 17th street station.” This is both good and bad – if an actual terrorist refuses a search, he’d probably be searched again; if a law-abiding citizen concerned with his 4th amendment rights refuses a search, he may force himself into taxis for the rest of his travels.

  52. JMoore-
    I was going to, but I thought it was too obvious to need it. When the cops started doing random searches of drivers, the phrase “Driving While Black” entered the lexicon. I’m sure THIS will result in similar linguistic ingenuity.

  53. geek,

    “Reductio ad absurdum.” You mean, as opposed to, “If you want to be safe on the subway, buy some body armor?” That was the argument I was responding to, so while my statement may have beedn absurdum, I didn’t reductio anything.

    JMooore, it was implicit in the questions I asked about non-random searches. But it would seem that that is less interesting than calling me a pussy and a Stalinist.

  54. Joe, you’re probably right that it would be tough to station troll until you slip by, what with radio communication between cops and all. But it seems that terrorists are prepared to deal calmly with security and not have a suspicious freak-out response (otherwise, they’d never pull off any attacks, especially ones on airplanes).

    But if 99% of folks carrying bags pass right through without being searched, then there’s about a 96% chance that 4 bombers would *all* get through. And even if *all* those not getting through freaked out and had to detonate early or get arrested… well, if you’re willing to die for a cause, that’s not really a problem, is it?

    I’m not in principle opposed to security searching for bombs (e.g., I’m in favor of searching people before they board airplanes), but this particular measure just seems counterproductive.

  55. joe,

    you know it’s funny. I’ve never been the victim of terrorism.

    Well, unless you mean that cop who was kicking me around about two weeks ago, while I was helping a friend load her van after a gig (we were in a legal loading zone, outside of a well known bar venue).

    Visible bruising. Yep. Witnesses, Yep. Complaint? Yep, filed twice, apparently lost both times, I’m still deciding if I sould bother to file again. I probably wouldn’t, but they smacked her around quite a bit, and she’s pissed.

    I’m still more afraid of the police, sorry, I’m to much like Ben Franklin to by your bit of russian revisionism.

  56. Actually, I was waiting, and still am waiting outside this thread, for someone to call for it. And not just racial profiling, but age and sex profiling as well. Religious profiling by itself would be very difficult unless a person is wearing some outward symbol, but the others can be done fairly easily.

  57. crimethink, please note, I described behavior while objecting to a search, not just the refusal itself.

    The 4th Amendment issues can be cleared up by ruling evidence of a crime found through these searches inadmisable. But ultimately, the 4th is about reasonableness. I propose that the reasonableness of a patdown and peek in your bag at the entrance to a subway is dependent on whether or not there is a campaign of subway bombings in progress. No?

  58. joe,

    That’s why the founders of our Constitution assigned it to the state.

    Actually, they didn’t assign it all to the state. Indeed, if you read the various documents associated with conventions (national and state) it was understood that voluntary militias would be the bulwark of the army.

  59. joe,

    Of course the words and understandings of the Constitution mean nothing to you.

  60. We have reasonably reliable intelligence that bombers have begun hiding bombs in their colons. To pre-empt the campaign of colon-bombings that will surely spread, random cavity searches will be performed at the entrances of subways from now on.

    See how hard it is to be reasonable when you defer to those in authority?

  61. joe,

    The 4th Amendment issues can be cleared up by ruling evidence of a crime found through these searches inadmisable.

    That issue has already been settled. Such discoveries are admissable.

  62. Yes, it is amusing that joe expects other people to accept the most absurd possible characterizationss of their arguments that he can think of as reasonable logical sequelae, but feels comfortable mocking Jennifer for remarks that are a thousand times less absurd than anything he can think of.

    Still, it is interesting to see that joe, liberal that he is, apparently supports:

    1. The right-wing fearmongering that leads people to think, “OMFG! Teh terrorists are going to blow up my commut0r!!!1!”

    2. The increased militarization of the police. (TRANSIT police, no less!)

    3. Warrantless fishing expeditions.

    4. Most likely, racial profiling. (Whose bags do you think the cops are going to want to search? Joe’s? Mine? Warren Buffet’s? )

    5. Pointless, cosmetic, harrassing crap that I’m willing to bet $500 will have absolutely no deterrent effect whatsoever. (Although, I bet if there are no NY subway attacks in the next year, joe will quickly adopt Homer Simpson’s tiger-repelling rock argument.)

  63. andy d, good points. The Israelis have some experience with this, and most people preparing to blow themselves to kingdom come do act somewhat squirrelly.

    And you are correct that these practices would not be absolutely effective, but as others have pointed out (and pointed out, and pointed out) there are issues of practicality that make more absolute precautions undesireable.

    Skepticos, sorry to hear it. Asshole cops suck. But that doesn’t reduce the threat, or the responsibility to take reasonable precautions.

  64. Anyone who starts prattling on about the Constitution being a “living document” and the like simply means this: the Constitution means what I like it to mean depending on what I think is ok for today. Such of course is a nice basis for tyranny.

  65. So, let’s say that the terrorists aren’t suicidal, so the plan is to plant a bag on the subway and then get out.

    Two or three of them head to the station. They don’t stand next to each other. First the guy with the bag tries to go through. He’s selected for a search. He declines and walks toward the next station. Once they’re out of sight of the station cops, he hands the bag to one of his friends. The friend tries the next station. The cops aren’t on the lookout for the friend, and as long as the bag is of a fairly common type it won’t raise their suspicion.

    Or, let’s say the terrorist is prepared to die. He sees a big crowd of people at the checkpoint and decides that this is the place to do it. He gets to the middle of the crowd and then sets it off.

    Or, let’s say the terrorist wants to create maximum paranoia in the US. He wants to disabuse the population of the notion that they can stay safe by avoiding the really juicy targets. So he goes to a strip mall in suburbia and sets off his bomb at a busy Starbucks one morning, when everybody is getting their caffeine fix for the day.

    If I knew that security measures would actually prevent something, by either deterrence or interdiction, I’d be all in favor of it. But when the measures are easy to get around, or when too many other targets remain, the only effect of security is to make people feel better by hassling them.

    I’m forced to conclude that prevention will never work. We have to focus on cure instead. If some idiot kid from Northern California could get into an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, why can’t the FBI do the same?

    And remember that this is not the first time that the US has deal with a large ideological terrorist group that blends in with the general population. The KKK, a bunch of ideological murderers if ever there was one, was successfully infiltrated. Sure, they’re still around, just as there will always be Jihadis, but they aren’t nearly as big as they once were. And infiltration did more good than randomly checking people to see if they possess white sheets.

  66. joe, here, I’ll save you the trouble of using your mouse wheel to scroll up and re-read what you posted:

    And while we’re at it, we should disband the Air Force, and just invite citizens to fire their personal firearms skyward in case of an attack.

    Reductio ad absurdum, you are attempting to equivocate opposition to the reduction of liberty on the subway to some sort of quasi-anarchist dystopia.

    Yet you continue to defend a reduction in freedom without even the common courtesy of citing some made-up numbers from at least a bullshit study justifying this.

    In other words, you have no problem with trading freedom to assuage the fear of the most paranoid. Compared to that, the advice to go buy a kevlar vest actually looks rational.

  67. Haklyut,

    You mean the voluntary militias that had mandatory service for adult males, received funding and support from the government, and were under the command of the state governments?

    Of course, historical evidence means nothing to you.

  68. . I propose that the reasonableness of a patdown and peek in your bag at the entrance to a subway is dependent on whether or not there is a campaign of subway bombings in progress.

    There’s a campaign of subway bombings in New York? Since when?

  69. joe,

    If you think that random patdowns are reasonable precautions you don’t know much about transportation security. Public transit systems are soft targets and will remain soft targets. But hey, closing the barn door after the cows have gone out is so typical of government bureaucrats.

  70. “The Israelis have some experience with this, and most people preparing to blow themselves to kingdom come do act somewhat squirrelly.”

    I can accept that, even though remain skeptical, since plenty of suicide bombers still get by the Israeli “squirrelly detectors”.

    But given all this, I think you either have to advocate non-random searches, or give up the idea that searching is anything but counterproductive… no?

  71. Joe:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Haklyut in law? Perhaps you should defer to authority on this one.

  72. Are most here in agreement the US government needs to be doing something to protect people from terrorists?
    Well, I disagree. I didn’t ask for protection. I don’t want protection. I don’t like paying for protection.

  73. joe,

    You mean the voluntary militias that had mandatory service for adult males…

    Bullshit. There was nothing mandatory about them. Our first draft occurred during the Civil War.

    …received funding and support from the government…

    No, the vast majority of militia weaponry was privately provided. The federal government had a hard enough time keeping up with the needs of the tiny professional military out of its Springfield, Ma. and Harpers Ferry, Va. armories. Maybe you ought to go over to Springfield, Ma. and visit the armory museum sometime. 🙂

    …were under the command of the state governments?

    Only in time of actual war.

  74. thoreau, why do you insist on believing that the police are idiots? The switching bag scenario you described can be easily foiled by a cop with binoculars and a radio in a building across the street. A guy refuses a search or otherwise draws attention to himself, the cop watches to see where he goes.

    Also, as harsh as it is to have to calculus like this, a bomb set off in the open air or in a shopping mall will do less damage than one set off among tightly packed people in an enclosed space. That’s why the bomb on the double decker bus was thought to be a screw-up – because setting it off on the upper deck made is less lethan than in a subway car, or even the inside of the bus. Subways are attacked more than shopping malls for a reason.

    And why act as if defensive measures and infiltrating terror groups were mutually exclusive?

    geek, come back when you’ve got an argument, son.

  75. Andy d,

    I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that random searches are necessarily counter-productive, but I would agree that they are likely very unproductive (sorry for the quibbel). I don’t think (openly-acknowledged)non-random ones will ever pass muster, though.

    Yet one could make a great case for them….

  76. joe,

    Also, just to give you a clue, almost all arms in the United States prior to the Civil War were produced by private manufacturers.

  77. why do you insist on believing that the police are idiots?

    Maybe because of cases like where a Connecticut judge ruled that the New London police were allowed to refuse to hire a man with an IQ of only 120, on the grounds that he was “too intelligent” to be a police officer?

  78. Jennifer-

    …help yourself all you fucking want but for God’s sake stop shoving your help down my throat

    Of course if you consented and the person in question stopped when you asked it would be called consensual. Attempts to call it anything other than consensual would be called lying and fraud. Theoretically.

    crimethink-

    Terrorist #2: Yes, the subway will stink of the bodies of the evildoers, until the birds of the air come down to gorge themselves on their flesh. Allah Akbar.

    I remember when the mujaheddin were basically US heroes because they were US-backed insurgents when they were fighting the Soviets. As late as 96-97 I remember seeing a Discovery or History Channel documentary that showed footage of them taking out Soviet tanks and yelling Allah Akbar. Pretty dramatic stuff – these guys in rags taking out state of the art Soviet tanks. I was talking to someone on the phone after watching it and said “Allah Akbar”. Boy, I bet if someone had recorded that then (and really wanted to be a low-life piece of shit) and played it back now they could really smear me if people didn’t know what was going on.

    Even right-wing hawk of right-wing hawks Tom Clancy had a heroic mujaheddin character in the Sum of All Fears back in the 90’s. I think he was called The Archer because he specialized in taking out Soviet aircraft with US-supplied shoulder-fired missiled. I wonder if good ‘ol Tom is being tortured by law enforcement personnel who are either ignorant and poorly trained, know what they are doing and just want to torture someone, or are corrupt.

  79. *raises hand*

    Hey joe, say “hi” to Michael Bellesiles for me, willya?

  80. Also, Joe, that bit about the police using their binoculars to keep an eye on the man who refused a search might work in a cornfield in Indiana, but considering how crowded midtown Manhattan is during a workday I don’t think anybody will have trouble getting lost in a crowd.

  81. Phil, on occasion, tactics used in one place migrate to another place. There was a plot to take over an airliner and crash it into the Eiffel Tower in the 1990s. Some of us were rather upset when we found out about this, because we thought it would have been prudent to do something about people trying to take over airliners in flight after that.

    You, too Haklyut – never tire of pointing out that plot. Now, suddenly, it’s idiotic to set up defenses against tactics that emerge elsewhere. Also, English not being votre langue premiere, you might not know that the “barn door” saying refers to taking action after an event rather than before – which is exactly the opposite of the NYPD taking precautions to secure the subways before a bomb is set off there.

  82. Jesus Christ, does everything evil and stupid come from New London, Conn.?

  83. Steve–
    Well, New London had nothing to do with the rise of Bin Laden or the Holocaust, but otherwise, yes.

  84. The call has been made for some “profiling” comments, so I’ll throw some out there. Apparently, there are these people from the Middle-East who like to blow themselves up on crowded subways. These Middle Eastern folks do not care about life because if the dead are innocent, Allah will give them their reward in the afterlife. So, maybe people who look Middle-Eastern should be getting a look at subway stations, rather than 85-year-old Chinese women. If it’s a numbers game, recent history has shown suicide bombers to be Middle-Eastern or of Middle-Eastern descent. With 5 million people riding the subways every day here in Gotham, the chances of “randomnly” finding a bomb are pretty slim. However, the odds improve, only slightly, if the NYPD only targets Middle-Eastern looking people with bookbags or heavy clothing.

    So there is some “profiling” for you. I don’t think anything will help, if these goatfuckers are determined enough, they will find a way.

  85. That was in reference to Jennifer’s comment about the wannabe cop who was too smart for the job. If he wanted a job with the city of New London, he couldn’t be that smart.

  86. Hack,

    WRONG! Militia service was indeed mandatory in many places. In fact, householders were often required to have firearms on hand for that very purpose. Nice try getting around this by substituting “draft” (to a national army) for “mandatory militia service.”

    Another nice weasel with the term “the vast majority.” Pray tell, where did the rest come from? It wasn’t paid for with tax dollars, was it?

    “Only in time of actual war.” Thank you for agreeing with me that the militias were, in fact, subject to the command of the state governments.

    “almost all arms in the United States prior to the Civil War were produced by private manufacturers.” As they are today. Colt, Boeing…

  87. joe,

    Its odd that someone as ignorant of the historical record as yourself always thries to thuggishly use history as a weapon. Its fairly laughable and downright pathetic.

    No, the NYPD is taking action after events in London; just as everyone took action after 9/11. Of course earlier you were claiming this:

    I propose that the reasonableness of a patdown and peek in your bag at the entrance to a subway is dependent on whether or not there is a campaign of subway bombings in progress.

    No you’ve done a bit of a volte face. Which is it?

  88. joe,

    “And while we’re at it, we should disband the Air Force, and just invite citizens to fire their personal firearms skyward in case of an attack.”

    Where exactly in the Constitution is an Air Force authorized? I’ll make this easy for you… it isn’t. Let the disbanding commence.

    “Providing physical security is a collective effort, and a collective responsibility. That’s why the founders of our Constitution assigned it to the state.”

    No, that’s why they assigned it to the militia. They gave Congress the power…

    “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;” while prohibiting appropriation of money to support a state army for “a longer Term than two Years”.

    and followed it up with a statement that… “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Apparantly they did want citizens to fire their personal firearms skyward.

  89. Phil, on occasion, tactics used in one place migrate to another place.

    No shit. Is there any evidence that homegrown Muslim New Yorkers intend to start bombing NY subways?

    There was a plot to take over an airliner and crash it into the Eiffel Tower in the 1990s. Some of us were rather upset when we found out about this, because we thought it would have been prudent to do something about people trying to take over airliners in flight after that.

    Yes, joe, I’m sure you were running around with your hair on fire between 1990 and 2001 concerned that the foiled French airliner plot was going to find its way over here.

    Jennifer, you know, that cop thing doesn’t really generalize out. My best friend is a detective sgt. on a small-town force in Ohio, and he’s got a Master’s in history and was a dean’s list student four years running when we were undergrads together. He also teaches college history classes as an adjunct faculty member in his off hours. I’m sure it’s fulfilling for you somehow to believe that “120 IQ” thing is a trend rather than a data point, but it isn’t.

  90. we should disband the Air Force, and just invite citizens to fire their personal firearms skyward in case of an attack.

    Well, we COULD do that if you weren’t so big on gun control.

  91. Jennifer,

    Next time you’re in the city and above the third floor, see how long you can follow a random person on the sidewalk just with your naked eye. I think you’d be surprised. And that’s you, alone, and untrained person, without binoculars.

  92. Phil-
    I’m not saying that all cops everywhere are stupid, but if New London is any indication then some cops are not only stupid, but required to be if they want the job.

  93. Just thought I’d mention that a possible libertarian response to the subway problem would be to turn the subways back over to private companies (which, incidentally, built them in the first place).

    Of course, if I were the owner of a subway line, and I believed there was a threat to my customers and my profits, I would probably install much more stringent security measures than the NYPD ever thought of. I might also refuse my privately-owned services to anyone I damn well felt like.

    Don’t like my searches? Get off my property, then. (Naturally, that couldn’t happen these days…not with the broad interpretations of the Commerce Clause, etc.)

  94. joe,

    Militia service was indeed mandatory in many places.

    Wrong! No it wasn’t.

    In fact, householders were often required to have firearms on hand for that very purpose. Nice try getting around this by substituting “draft” (to a national army) for “mandatory militia service.”

    Wrong again!

    Point to one historical example of your claims. One! Find it! You won’t. Of course, as usual, you’ll duck the question. 🙂

    Requiring people to be part of a militia is a draft; indeed, historically speaking, its one of the more common forms of a draft (e.g., see English system of drafting longbowmen). It is after all a mandatory system of recruitment for an armed force after all.

  95. Next time you’re in the city and above the third floor, see how long you can follow a random person on the sidewalk just with your naked eye. I think you’d be surprised. And that’s you, alone, and untrained person, without binoculars.

    So long as he doesn’t turn any corners.

  96. The switching bag scenario you described can be easily foiled by a cop with binoculars and a radio in a building across the street. A guy refuses a search or otherwise draws attention to himself, the cop watches to see where he goes.

    Ah. So now we’ve gone from “random searches at the stations” to “in-place surveillance teams to track people as they leave stations.” All without blinking. But there’s no slippery slope. No sir.

  97. As I commented in a previous thread, possibly more relevant here:

    In the UK we now have a national newspaper, the Independent, calling for airport style security on the underground (our name for the subway). Forget about rights for a moment. From a pragmatic point of view this scheme is deranged. It is hard to imagine how anyone even vaguely familiar with the underground might have begun to dream it up.

    The leader claims security would only add 15-30 minutes per journey – “inconvenient, but not unreasonable”. Do the math. If you commute every week day for 40 years you would spend over a year of your life queuing, presuming you take no time off to sleep.

    Is this how civilisation will end, not with a bang but with a whimper? One half of the population employed to waste their lives searching the other half of the population who waste their lives obediently filing past.

    There are more ways for terrorists to win than letting off bombs.

  98. You people are posting WAY too fast for me to catch up – I’m still at 10:18 AM. Please slow down – some of us have work to do 🙂

  99. Hack, this is my last response to you if you continue your transparent tactic of playing dumb.

    There is a campaign of subway bombings underway. Our closest ally has been struck twice already, and the same people that struck them are after us, too. Just as we started escorting our convoys across the Atlantic well before the first American ship was torpedoed, so should we take steps to make our subways safer now, rather than later.

    Or maybe we shouldn’t. I’ll put it to you: should we take steps to make our subways more secure from terrorist attack? And don’t go off on a tangent.

  100. joe,

    You are so ignorant of the history of military affairs it just boggles the mind. That you don’t know that the notion of a draft includes mandatory militias makes me simply, well, laugh. Haven’t you ever heard of Roman auxiliaries? Or Swiss pikemen?

  101. John Paul Jones,

    Thanks. That is, of course, a perfectly logical, and thoroughly poltically incorrect, line of reasoning.

    For the crime of applying such reasoning, you must report to the nearest re-education center.

  102. Hey joe, can you indulge me in a little reverie?

    Just come right out and say the words “I hate individual freedom.”

    Chalk it up to puerile emotionalism if you like, but just one in my life, I’d like to hear someone who advocates the removal of freedom actually come right out and say it, instead of obfuscating with “for the children” and “public safety.”

    Just this one time, for me? please? It would make me ever so happy.

  103. joe,

    The only one playing dumb is you. I asked you for one example. You’ve decided – per your nature – to duck the question.

    Phil,

    Well, joe doesn’t call himself joe for nothing; I mean, with his hero being Uncle Joe and all. 🙂

  104. Phil, no slippery slopes. Cops watching people in public spaces, and watching people who act suspiciously especially closely, has been legal, standard procedure for as long as there have been police.

  105. I just want to re-post what Phil said because it’s too good to get lost in the crowd:

    The switching bag scenario you described can be easily foiled by a cop with binoculars and a radio in a building across the street. A guy refuses a search or otherwise draws attention to himself, the cop watches to see where he goes.

    Ah. So now we’ve gone from “random searches at the stations” to “in-place surveillance teams to track people as they leave stations.” All without blinking. But there’s no slippery slope. No sir.

    Comments, Joe?

  106. All done, Hack. Buh bye.

    mediageek, could you please come out and say, “I want people to get blown up on the subway?” Please? Just once? God, you’re an idiot.

  107. Joe-
    I made that last post before I saw yours. But bear in mind that in the example you gave, “act suspiciously” means “not wanting to have your stuff searched.”

  108. There’s a campaign of subway bombings in New York? Since when?

    Comment by: Phil at July 22, 2005 10:51 AM

    Didn’t you ever see Die Hard 3?

  109. In fact, householders were often required to have firearms on hand for that very purpose. Nice try getting around this by substituting “draft” (to a national army) for “mandatory militia service.”

    Joe, if you won’t talk to Hakluyt, could you give ME an example of this in American history?

  110. joe,

    Of course you are, oh ducker of questions. 🙂

  111. joe:
    As they are today. Colt, Boeing…

    Interestingly enough, the majority of ownership of Colt is now…the state government of Connecticut! Rumor has it in the near future Colt won’t be selling any handguns or rifles to civilians because of pressure from the state, which owns most of the company.

    And, Joe, you really ought to stop citing “facts” from “The Arming of America,” which has pretty much been discredited at this point. I refer to your assertion that most militias were composed of people who were “forced” by the state to own firearms.

  112. JMoore

    You are welcome, while everyone else on this thread is busy making quasi-historical references (I’m pretty sure the Lusitania was sunk before the escorts), the real issue here is “randomn” checking is just a waste of time and resources. There is only one group of people who are perpetrating these types of attacks (I don’t think I’m being outlandish here) and we need to focus on them.

    As far as I’m concerned, if Middle-Eastern people don’t want to be “harassed” and “unfairly” targeted, then they need to step up. I don’t for one minute believe these terrorists act alone or within their cells. People in their communities know, or are at least suspicious, but yet say nothing. They are complicit in their silence. And when they do speak, they beat the tired, old Palestine-Israel drum.

  113. Jennifer,

    Perfectly normal actions often lead the police to pay special attention. If you change the tape in your deck while driving, and it causes you to wobble in your lane a little bit, a cop who sees you might follow your car a little while, to see if you do anything else to suggest that you might be drunk, or just a bad driver who’s liable to commit a traffic violation. It does not entitle the cop to pull you over, give you a sobriety test, or anything. But there is aboslutely nothing wrong with him concentrating his ordinary observation during his patrol on you, if you perform a completely legal action that could indicate a problem.

  114. Jennifer,

    He won’t, because joe has never actually researched this issue. He has heard some propaganda on the matter from gun control advocates though. The only mandatory militias that have ever been in place in the United States occurred during the colonial period, particularly in some of the more puritanical New England colonies. It is important to note that even during the Revolutionary War, when militias were often the backbone of the American army, that the individuals involved volunteered their services via contract or simply showed up (e.g., the Battle of Saratoga) and there was no mandatory service.

  115. I’ll put it to you: should we take steps to make our subways more secure from terrorist attack?

    Yes. Let all ablebodied adults carry firearms on the subways.

  116. “I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that random searches are necessarily counter-productive, but I would agree that they are likely very unproductive (sorry for the quibbel).”

    Joe, I don’t think it’s a quibble. You say that these searches would be “unproductive”… this means that they would be unlikely to stop a terrorist attack, right? And you know this extra “security” will cost money and divert law enforcement time… to an unrpoductive endeavor. So I don’t see how you can escape calling it counterproductive. And anyway, isn’t “unproductive” enough to be opposed to it? So you oppose these random searches, yes?

    Please, let’s not quibble between “very likely unproductive” and “unproductive”:)

  117. And on the bag-switching tactic… have yall ever heard of bathrooms? Terrorist A with a bomb, terrorist B with no bomb, but a similar bag. “A” is rebuffed by security, goes to the bathroom, and while hidden from security, they switche bags. Sure, there’s an off chance some person would see the bag switch, warn security, and the whole thing would be foiled… but that’s not all that likely. In any case, finding a way to make this bag switch very likely to work isn’t all that difficult… and remember that there’s only about a 1% chance that this switch would be needed in the first place.

  118. The response of a suspect to a lawful request by a cop can create a “reasonable suspicion,” or even “probably cause.”

    If the guy’s eyes bug out, he starts sweating profusely, and stalks off quickly while casting worried glances back at the police, the cops at nearby stations are probabl going to hear something about it over their radios.

    Comment by: joe at July 22, 2005 10:26 AM

    andy d, good points. The Israelis have some experience with this, and most people preparing to blow themselves to kingdom come do act somewhat squirrelly.

    Comment by: joe at July 22, 2005 10:48 AM

    How many innocent people who are not terrorists nor criminals will also act squirrelly or nervous when stopped by a police officer?

    Any good physicist or sociologist knows that you can’t observe something without affecting it.

  119. JPJ, I was referring to 1940. Yes, the Lusitania was sunk before that. 😉

    db, most people were armed already. It was extremely common to own a rifle back then. But while M.B.’s statistics about gun ownership have been discredited, AFAIK, the requirement that people serve in militias, and provide their own armaments, hasn’t really been disputed – it certanily wasn’t a novel assertion from “The Arming of America.”

  120. Anyone who knows anything about the issue of public transport of this type knows that this is a needle in a haystack issue. All these random searches are simply a waste of manpower. The searches are being undertaken largely as a P.R. move.

  121. JPJ – I’m too much of a coward to be the first to make your point, so I went fishing for it. For the record, I don’t like the idea, but I cannot resist the logic. If the Aryan Nation people were planting bombs, I would fully expect police to look more closely at me (blue-eyed white boy with a buzz-cut) than at my best friend (black). It would be foolish to consider him as likely a candidate as I.

    So, logically, based on recent experience, police should watch those who are Middle-Eastern, male, and young to middle-aged with much greater scrutiny. There are exceptions to this profile, but they are rare. It would suck to be an Arab straphanger, and I feel really sorry for those who are, but we have to face facts: little old white women from Iowa are not setting off bombs. (Nor are little old black women from Brooklyn, for that matter).

  122. I agree with several of the posters who theorized that now the terrorists will just switch to bombing the search checkpoints. I seem to remember that happening at least a couple times in the news coming out of Israel. I think the searches will be counterproductive. Better to spend the time, money, and personnel on a greater plainclothes presence, more explosives/weapon sniffing dogs, and maybe even some more cameras.

  123. Perfectly normal actions often lead the police to pay special attention. If you change the tape in your deck while driving, and it causes you to wobble in your lane a little bit, a cop who sees you might follow your car a little while, to see if you do anything else to suggest that you might be drunk, or just a bad driver who’s liable to commit a traffic violation

    But Joe, in your case, NOT WANTING TO HAVE YOUR BAG SEARCHED is one of the actions that makes the cops suspicious. I can see how a reasonable cop would see my car wobble and worry that I might be drunk; but now, if I don’t want some strange man pawing through my purse, the cops should worry that I might be a terrorist? And you honestly don’t think this attitude will lead to serious civil-liberties problems down the road?

  124. There is only one group of people who are perpetrating these types of attacks (I don’t think I’m being outlandish here) and we need to focus on them.

    Anyone could be a terrorist.

  125. Andy, point taken. And sorry I can’t spell today. Where did I get “quibbel”?

  126. Jennifer,

    I told you he wouldn’t provide an example. He’s a question ducker like that. 🙂 Ask him something which blows apart his worldview, and he’ll just avoid it.

  127. I think this is a great idea that will help to protect us from terorists and dangerous drugs.

    Anything that can help the police stop terrorists and keep us all off drugs is inherintly a good thing. I’m all for it.

  128. Yes, Jane, anyone COULD be. The question is, who is more likely to be?

    Again, if the KKK were bombing us, would you bother so much searching black people?

  129. Regardless, the starting point of this tangent of Jean Gary’s was my statement that providing security has always been a collective responsibility, and was pursued by collective means. This was recognized in the Constitution, first in the preamble, “We the People in order to…provide for the common defense…,” in the articles authorizing the federal government to be involved in military affairs (forming a navy with tax dollars, passing laws allowing the quartering of troops in time of war), in the Second Amendment (“A well regulated militia, being necessary for the protection….”), and in state constitutions authorizing the use of tax dollars for militias.

    All of which is to rebut the already-dropped argument that being safe on the subway is purely an individual, and not a public, responsibility. Libertarians like to declare that providing for the common defense in one of the legitimate functions of government, right up until the government attempts to provide that function, at which point the looniest fringe does an about-face.

  130. The call has been made for some “profiling” comments, so I’ll throw some out there.

    Tim McVeigh. ELF. Jamaican bomber in London. Whoops, there goes the profiling scheme.

  131. Perhaps a combination of “profiling” and “migration of tactics” could solve the problem. Every Muslim in NYC would be made to wear a large crescent on their clothing. They will be required to ride in “Muslim only” subway cars that are heavily armored. This could be extended to “Muslim only” subway entrances. Or better yet, let’s relocate all of the muslims to their own private cities, with tightly controlled perimeters. Bomb carrying could be legalized, and possible made mandatory in the Muslim cities.

  132. JMoore

    Well at least the two of us are in agreement and really focusing on what the deal is here in NYC (I suspect many of the people posting here do not live here and have no idea what is going on)

    The chances of preventing an attack on the subway in New York are almost impossible. The physical size of some of the larger stations (42nd, Columbus Circle, Canal St., Fulton, Atlantic Ave.) make policiing hard enough, factor in rush hour and the hordes streaming around, well it’s damn near impossible, which goes back to the futility of “randomn” searches.

    There is a “profile” for these people and the people who fit it need to be watched more closely. It sucks, it’s not very libertarian, but then again, neither is fanatical Islam…

  133. Oh, yeah and the unwitting mules on the Lockerbie flight.

  134. God, you’re an idiot.

    It must really suck knowing you had a big platefull of your own ass handed to you in the gun control debate by an idiot.

    Interestingly enough, the majority of ownership of Colt is now…the state government of Connecticut! Rumor has it in the near future Colt won’t be selling any handguns or rifles to civilians because of pressure from the state, which owns most of the company.

    This is why Colt’s quality control has sucked for years. It’s also the reason why their AR15’s use nonstandard locking pins for (iirc) the trigger group and the receiver. All of the other AR makers are standardized, The state of Conn. has systematically attempted to run Colt into the ground. Were it not for government contracts they’d have gone under years ago.

  135. I await the principled libertarians’ denunciations of Crushinator’s reductio ad absurdum.

    And wait.

    And wait.

  136. joe,

    Actually, you are wrong again. Security was viewed as an individual and a collective responsibility. Indeed, the former is implicit in the level of gun ownership found in the United States during the early republic.

    Libertarians like to declare that providing for the common defense in one of the legitimate functions of government, right up until the government attempts to provide that function, at which point the looniest fringe does an about-face.

    This assumes that the state is really providing for the common defense in this instance, and it also simply and stupidly ignores competing values (like liberty) as well.

  137. Alway such useful contributions. Aren’t geeks supposed to be smart?

  138. Guys, don’t bother answering Jane. She’s a troll.

  139. Alway such useful contributions. Aren’t geeks supposed to be smart?

    Smart enough to hold a job in the private sector, at least.

    /snark

  140. Joe-
    You know perfectly well that Crushinator’s response was sarcasm. Have you really been reduced to this to prove your point?

  141. joe’s arguments are predicated on the notion that random checks on subway platforms are a useful way to apply finite resources; they aren’t.

  142. See, that wasn’t so hard, Haklyut. When you post civil posts that make actual arguments, I’m pleased to debate with you.

    Yes, defense was a collective and individual responsibility. Hence, the argument that collective efforts are prima facie wrong is, well, prima facie wrong.

    “This assumes that the state is really providing for the common defense in this instance, and it also simply and stupidly ignores competing values (like liberty) as well.” Actually, “this,” referring to the sentences you quoted, was a statement of principles, and doesn’t assume anything about the particular practices in New York at all. And it doesn’t ignore competing values, just recognizes that there are competing values to those competing values. I agree, a balance must be struck.

  143. joe,

    You’ve been waiting for 3 minutes. Chill out.

  144. jennifer,

    Note that joe avoided your question. 🙂

    I am sure that he madly searched the bowls of google for some proof of mandatory militias and found nothing.

  145. Jennifer, ALL reductio ad absurdem arguments are sarcasm intended to prove a point.

    Haklyut, I’m open to persuasion on the merits of this strategy. What could those NYC cops be doing to make the subways safer from terrorism, instead of checking bags on the way in?

  146. Dave W

    I really do appreciate your obvious distaste for profiling. I despise it myself.

    But, by your logic, English teachers should never bother teaching the rule that plurals are made by adding an “s” to the end of a word because there are so many exceptions.

  147. Uncle Joe,

    All my posts make actual arguments.

    And your statements have as yet to mention anything about the efficacy of NYC’s campaign, etc. You are now just backpeddling.

  148. Uh, if none of my posts made any statements about the efficacy of the campaign, why would stating uncertainty about that efficacy count as backpedalling?

  149. I agree, a balance must be struck.

    Joe, you’ll have to admit that the balance seem to be continually re-stuck toward more security.

    Am I the only one who hates the term civilians. It’s always used in a negative sense. “We can’t let civilians do X. Only authorized, certified and important people can do X”.

  150. You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  151. Uncle Joe,

    Letting people get on about their business. These efforts lack efficacy and they are at the very best very low on the level of importance when it comes to managing terrorism. Its a big, fat waste of time and resources.

    _______________

    Someone mentioned earlier Israel’s efforts to combat terrorism; well, it lowers the level of violence by checking the movements of terrorists at its borders not by concentrating on who or who does not get off buses.

  152. Well, David, when we go from an historical period in which it was assumed that we weren’t endangered by terrorist attacks on our cities, to one in which there is widespread concern about terrorist attacks on our cities, which direction do you think the balance is going to move in?

  153. David,

    What’s ironic is that getting authorization tends to be a rather easy task that provides basically zero protection against terrorism.

  154. I’m no advocate of profiling, but if our government (and I mean New York City’s) is going to implement this bag-checking scheme, I would at least like it to look like it was useful.

    Like I said earlier, I don’t think any of this will help, these goatfuckers will find a way.

  155. “Letting people get on about their business.”

    Which is to say, nothing. There is nothing the NYPD should do differently during a campaign of terrorist subway bombing to make the subways more secure. Is that your final answer?

    Isn’t is wonderful when, after thorough and open-minded consideration of the most effective policy options, you are forced to conclude that the bast one, by far, is also the one that comports best with your ideological preferences?

    “Someone mentioned earlier Israel’s efforts to combat terrorism; well, it lowers the level of violence by checking the movements of terrorists at its borders not by concentrating on who or who does not get off buses.” Actually, I can think of at least one case in which a bus driver decided that a guy with a long coat trying to get on the bus looked squirrelly, and closed the door in his face. The guy blew up outside the bus, and IIRC, he was the only fatatlity. Israeli bus drivers are taught to look over people boarding buses, and to be prepared to keep dangerous-looking people off.

  156. joe,

    The danger of terrorist attacks remains relatively small. This is the difference between how we perceive a threat and the actual nature of a threat. 9/11 was a big, scary incident, and that is why folks are freaked out about the nature of terrorism.

  157. Yes, but you seem to be neglecting the fact that the terrorist threat has been blown wildly out of proportion. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning, die in a car accident, or have heart failure than be the victim of a terrorist attack.

    The only difference is how the deaths play on television, and no one is calling for the infringement of personal liberties to reduce any of those…

    oh
    waitaminute…

  158. OK. That’s fair. You don’t think the NYPD should do anything to make the subways safer from terror attacks, because the threat is so small.

    I disagree, at this time in our history.

  159. Phil, no slippery slopes. Cops watching people in public spaces, and watching people who act suspiciously especially closely, has been legal, standard procedure for as long as there have been police.

    You’re not talking about beat cops following up on something they see while in the course of their patrols. You’re talking about permanent surveillance teams, in place and positioned near subway stations, and in communication with transit cops, prepared to exercise surveillance on individuals at the drop of a hat.

    Do you not see how this goes beyond “randomly searching bags,” and how it begins to approach, however mildly, police-state tactics?

  160. Haklyut, I’m open to persuasion on the merits of this strategy. What could those NYC cops be doing to make the subways safer from terrorism, instead of checking bags on the way in?

    I’m not a Haklyut, nor do I play one on TV, but I already mentioned a few ^ up there.

    They could be in plainclothes watching people for “squirreliness” – which might be more effective, because you aren’t creating target-rich and taxpayer-frustrating chokepoints.

    They could be leading explosives-sniffing dogs around.

    They could be monitoring cameras – one person could be monitoring a number of cameras. Although this didn’t seem to prevent anything in London. (It did help in the investigation afterwards.)

  161. Israeli bus drivers are taught to look over people boarding buses, and to be prepared to keep dangerous-looking people off.

    In Pittsburgh, where the city bus drivers earn an average of $85,000 per year, you would have to pay them another 20-25% if they had attended the proficiency training for that skill. 🙂

  162. joe,

    Yes, there is nothing that the NYPD should do that they weren’t already and there is nothing particularly beneficial about random searches. The cost of man hours, etc. is not worth the low benefit from the scheme that they are now undertaking. If you can justify this this with a more beneficial CBR, then I’d like to see it.

    As to the bus driver example, the bus driver was already in situ and teaching bus drivers to be alert is a far different issue than loading up transit centers with cops randomly searching passengers.

  163. Which direction do you think the balance is going to move in?

    Obviously, toward security, but that doesn’t mean we should trust our authorities not to abuse it, and begs at least two questions.

    At what point is any sense of balance between security and liberty lost?

    Given that terrorism can never be entirely eliminated as a tactic, can the balance ever start to tip back toward liberty?

  164. Phil,

    “You’re not talking about beat cops following up on something they see while in the course of their patrols.” No, this is much more like stationing cops at the entrances to court houses, and having them check bags and wand people.

    Or, a better analogy might be, having a couple of cops stay in or near the house of a judge who has received death threats, and running the plates of cars that slow down in front of the house.

    There’s no law against slowing your car down in front of a judge’s house.

  165. The problem with the “striking a balance” argument is that the fulcrum of the balance moves every time the discussion happens. We never “balance” security against the amount of liberty we had in, e.g., 1787. We balance it against the amount of liberty we had left over after the last “balancing” took place.

    Can we all not agree that this is what slippery slope arguments are made of? And that, seen in this light, they are valid?!

  166. How many cops are going to be diverted for this effort? I’ll be you dollars to donuts that more lives will be ruined by all of the unmonitored crime that will occur (murders, rapes, burglaries, etc.) than will be saved by foiled terrorist attacks.

  167. Uncle Joe,

    The threat of terrorism isn’t that great, despite all the paranoia one sees about the issue. Its the paranoia that drives the security state of course.

  168. The cost of man hours, etc. is not worth the low benefit from the scheme that they are now undertaking.

    This is the whole argument. I’d be willing to forsake some additional liberty for security, even being a diehard libertoid. But the security proposals must have a reasonable chance of being effective without being cost prohibitive. Bloomberg’s edict is simply reactionary idiocy meant to placate his voter base. It accomplishes nothing.

  169. I’ll be you dollars to donuts that more lives will be ruined by all of the unmonitored crime that will occur (murders, rapes, burglaries, etc.) than will be saved by foiled terrorist attacks.

    Nah, they’ll just use it as a reason to call for an even larger police force and for higher tax rates to fund the larger police force.

  170. Let’s note that nearly every rail, etc. security expert right after July 7th stated that random searches, etc. were largely a meaningless gesture that could not be sustained for any appreciable length of time.

  171. Or, let’s say the terrorist wants to create maximum paranoia in the US. He wants to disabuse the population of the notion that they can stay safe by avoiding the really juicy targets. So he goes to a strip mall in suburbia and sets off his bomb at a busy Starbucks one morning, when everybody is getting their caffeine fix for the day.

    Thoreau,

    I’m honestly suprised (and thankful) that this hasn’t happenned yet. Suppose you lived few states away from NYC. What’s would scare you more, an attack on a subway system you may never ride, or an attack on a grocery store, Wal-mart, shopping mall, etc. in a random small town just like yours.

  172. Hakluyt,
    But joe’s authorities said they would help! Which authorities should I believe?

  173. happened. I should type with the oven mitts off.

  174. David,

    Any country is a target-rich environment. Expecting that terrorism is going to be dented by lots of surveillance cameras, random searches, etc. is simply foolish. You do not manage terrorism that way; you manage it by breaking up cells, etc. before they strike, and that requires a whole different sort of resources, etc.

  175. No, this is much more like stationing cops at the entrances to court houses, and having them check bags and wand people.

    It is – if you go to court twice a day. The better analogy was already mentioned: a sobriety checkpoint. Except this sobriety checkpoint is set up on the only road that allows anyone to get from point A to point B.

  176. call for an even larger police force and for higher tax rates to fund the larger police force

    Well, it’s a good thing the police union has just blackmailed their way into huge pay hikes by dropping the salary for new recruits to a level not seen in 25 years.

  177. Uncle Hack,

    “random searches, etc. were largely a meaningless gesture that could not be sustained for any appreciable length of time.”

    Wouldn’t that depend on the severity and specificity of the threat?

    To look at the threatended-judge example, I wouldn’t recommend keeping a pair of cops outside the door over every judge in America. If, however, there was a string of shootings of Jewish federal district judges, shortly after the Aryan Nations declared “war” on the Zionist court system, it would make sense to station cops at the homes of all Jewish federal judges.

  178. But, by your logic, English teachers should never bother teaching the rule that plurals are made by adding an “s” to the end of a word because there are so many exceptions.

    Well, up til 9/11, McVeigh was the champ terrorist. He still rates pretty high in per capita victims. The Lockerbie flight may have killed more, but that was white women who carried, if I recall and was given good info.

    Putting together Lockerbie and Okla City and Unabomber, this represents a big piece of the terrorist fatalities in US/UK.* These are not exceptions. This is up in the same order of magnitude as Arab kills. It should also be kept in mind that 9/11 was a bit of a fluke, probably, a fluke that pumps the Arab kill numbers a bit.

    Part of me would like to think that Arab bombers dominated terrorist kills (in US/UK), to the extent that “s’es” dominate the plurals scene, but I think the analogy breaks down because the proportions don’t correspond well.

    In other words, if we were really monitoring based on past attacks, and not being irrationally blinded by xenophobia, we would have to be profiling:
    Arab men
    Arab women
    Caucasian men
    Caucasian women
    Kind of undercuts the usefulness fo profiling.

    Of course, the blacks have been good about not doing bombings, but with the Jamaican in London and the Sudanese roughing up Condi’s contingent, they may be ready to come into their own. Once they are added to the mix, I am not sure who wouldn’t be profiled. I am not sure you could still call it “profiling” at that point.

    Ultimately, I don’t think we should do much to prevent small bombings. Just not enough killed. I’d re-allocate the profiling budget to alternative energy research and intell aimed at stopping nuclear / chem / bio weapons attacks.

    FOOTNOTES

    * Excluding the IRA bombings which I assume arguendo to be over.

  179. David-

    I hope the bad guys remain obsessed with big, dramatic attacks. That’s easier to foil than having a handful of guys bomb a few Starbucks one morning. And the ensuing paranoia would eclipse anything that happened in response to 9/11.

    joe-

    OK, say you’re right. So we get enough cops and cameras in enough places around enough metro stations, and they give up on attacking the metro. The fact remains that an open city will be full of vulnerable targets. If the terrorists are suicidal then nothing will stop them from finding and hitting soft targets. If they aren’t, well, it will be a little harder (since people might be on the lookout for abandoned bags) but not impossible.

    Admittedly, some targets are more significant than others, but the bottom line is that tasking lots of cops with squeezing one part of the balloon is at best a short-term measure. Infiltration is the only long-term solution. And infiltration is easier if you don’t keep diverting resources into renting lots of expensive Manhattan office space so a guy with binoculars can cover each subway exit.

    Not to mention the opportunity cost that Mo alluded to: All of the cops watching subway stations could be busting thieves and rapists and non-Jihadi murderers.

    Finally, as I alluded to before, America’s oldest and largest terrorist organization wasn’t contained by randomly searching for kerosine, matches, and white sheets.

  180. why do you insist on believing that the police are idiots

    How about the utter failure of the war on drugs?

  181. Via thehighroad.org:

    Brilliant!

  182. Dave W.

    Lockerbie was a Libyan-back plot, which would add that to Middle-Eastern/North African. I agree with your points about Unabomber, McVeigh and the anthrax mailer that’s never been found, BUT, if you are going to go just by body counts, don’t forget the first WTC bombing, the USS Cole, the two embassies and possibly Flight 108. In the last 5 years, the majority of terrorist attacks in the US/UK have been carried about by middle-eastern people.

    Again, I’m no advocate for profiling, but there does seem to be some sort of trend developing…

  183. How about we just privatize the NYC subway system?

    Among the presumably long list of benefits, they’d be able to make one of the conditions of entry the possibility of being “patted down” (just like many private clubs), without it being an issue of criminal justice or privacy rights. However, the greatest “punishment” they could impose is simply denial of admission.

  184. I see you’re counting number of kills as opposed to number of attempts. That can make a big difference.

  185. I also recall that a lot of African-Americans considered private gun ownership useful when dealing with America’s oldest and largest terrorist group.

  186. If, however, there was a string of shootings of Jewish federal district judges, shortly after the Aryan Nations declared “war” on the Zionist court system, it would make sense to station cops at the homes of all Jewish federal judges

    First, you can’t meaningfully compare protecting specific individuals to protecting public spaces. Second, you can’t put cops there forever. As Hak keeps saying (more or less), the best defence is a good offense. If you know that specific individuals are likely targets, a valid auxiliary defense is to protect those individuals. But since that can only last for a limited period of time, the primary defense has to be finding a way to undermine the groups that are intending on conducting the attacks.

  187. Russ R,

    That was sort of a point I made way way way back up the page. As a straphanger myself, I would be all in favor of re-privatizing the MTA. Denial of admission would probably be sufficient to protect riders.

    (And I’ll bet the owners would be secretly profiling people)

  188. The other obvious point to the failure of the police to actually be able to make any measurable dent is the current siutation in Iraq. We’ve been patrolling public ways and it just made private properties subject to attack. In fact it’s pissed off the inhabitants so much that they target the patrols.

  189. thoreau,

    I still say public transit is a particularly important target to defend. The enclosed space and high density makes the body count that much higher. And taking the subways of a major city out of commission would deal a huge blow to the functioning of our society and economy – probably moreso than the destruction of a federal courthouse, which has security up the wazoo.

    And people going into subway stations aren’t being searched for common household items.

    “How about the utter failure of the war on drugs?” Blame the politicians for that, not the cops. A federalizes, militarized WOD was NOT a step taken by the law enforcement community to make the country safety, but one imposed on it by elected officials whose judgement about security was marred by racism, hippie-hatred, a lack of expertise in public safety, and public relations. I mean seriously, Nelson Rockefellar? Richard Nixon? Ronald Reagan?

  190. I don’t think this a good idea or anything, but how is this different from security at airports? Granted airlines are private, but TSA are all government employees. They’re searching for bombs there, but we can get arrested for carrying a bag of weed too.

  191. JPJ,

    Lockerbie: when discussing profiling (as I understand it) what is relevant is who is carrying the bomb at the airport. Like I said, I think it was a white, non-Muslim woman.

    As far as disaffected Yemenese (or whoever) going after a foreign gunship that had every required permission to be their waters — I think that whole sittuation is pretty far removed form aiport / subway / highway / truck rental / mail parcel / watercraft / train profiling that might be applicable in the US or UK.

    More than the Cole, for domestic US monitoring purposes, I’d rather know who sent all the anthrax. That actually happened in the US. they never did get around to fingering a suspect (too busy w/ Iraq War, I guess). Hatfill looked awfully white to me, but they never charged him, so we can’t assume anything, I guess.

    Admittedly, the Arabs are the current leaders. No doubt. They got that crown from the IRA not too long ago. Who knows what group will be the next champs. Probably ELF because they have a lot more cells in the US probably.

    Focussing too much attention on Arabs is probably counterproductive because: (1) it takes away attention from the other groups (who are not negligible when you consider the whole panoply of attacks); and (2) it will make it more effective when the Arabs use black or white or Eastern Asian mules (witting or unwitting).

  192. joe,

    Wouldn’t that depend on the severity and specificity of the threat?

    In this case we are closing the barn door behind the cows. If indeed these attacks were prompted by AQ, we know that they are patient and generally savvy enough to realize that switching methods, etc. of attack are the best means towards success.

    MP,

    Thanks for stealing my thunder. 🙂

  193. “First, you can’t meaningfully compare protecting specific individuals to protecting public spaces.” Why not?

    “Second, you can’t put cops there forever.” Sure you can, if the degree of risk justifies it. Say three attempted bombings happen in London’s subway in two weeks, and then one happens in New York – you would still want the cops out of the stations, and walking beats in Queens?

    Also, Sully from the NYPD isn’t going to infiltrating anybody but the Beer of the Month Club. Which is to say, olive-skinned Arab speakers fresh out of Quantico aren’t going through people’s bags at MTA stations.

  194. Alla

    Legally, I don’t guess it’s any different (not a lawyer, here!). The big diff is in practicality. NYC subway is just too enormous and open, with literally millions of passengers every day. Even small delays can cause unspeakable disruption throughout the tri-state area.

  195. joe’s basic problem is that he is treating mass transit like its an airport.

  196. The unblinking eye of a surveillance camera is much less inconvenient than a bag search bottleneck.

  197. If/When I am “requested” to open my bag for NYC’s finest, I haven’t yet decided whether to bend over and do it, politely refuse and wait to be arrested at the next station or bus, or ask my boss for a raise so I start taking cabs every day.

  198. Well, yeah, but a camera isn’t going to pin somebody with a bomb belt to the floor and shoot him five times.

    Haklyut,

    How so? I’m not recommending screening for everybody (too impractical).

  199. I wonder if Joe has a financial stake at all. He probably doesn’t design train stations, but they might possibly spend money re-designing all kinds of human environments to be safer.

  200. A federalizes, militarized WOD was NOT a step taken by the law enforcement community to make the country safety, but one imposed on it by elected officials whose judgement about security was marred by racism, hippie-hatred, a lack of expertise in public safety, and public relations. I mean seriously, Nelson Rockefellar? Richard Nixon? Ronald Reagan?

    That statement is so ignorant I can’t even believe you’re a public planner anymore. To think that elected officals don’t take the advice of police is asinine. Even a city planner would get suggestions from police.

  201. Rhywun, save your cabfare for this.

  202. Joe, did the guy shot in the Tube today carry a bag?

  203. The enclosed space and high density makes the body count that much higher.

    I could take out just as many people by blowing myself up in Macy’s or Century 21. Or Rockefeller Center. Or the sidewalk in front of the WTC. Or at Bethesda Fountain.

  204. joe,
    How is examining 1 in 100 people with bags going to be effective? It’s deterrent factor is very small.

    JPJ,
    I actually don’t oppose racial profiling on any moral basis (as an 26 yo Arab named Mostafa, I AM the profile, except for the whole apostasy thing), but rather on an effectiveness basis. Reid, Padilla and Lindh are all Islamic extremists that are not Arab. If we only search people that look like me, people that look like them are free to roam.

  205. Oh and joe. The best way to deal with domestic terrorism is intelligence and law enforcement, not pointles bag searches.

  206. Mo, you’re screwed.

    I don’t think, though, that most advocates of profiling would call for ignoring everyone else, and focusing solely on “the profile”, rather that people like you (sorry, dude) would merely merit extra attention.

    Of course, to be fair, I should mention that, in NYC, searching everyone who fits your description would be an almost impossible task in itself. I don’t think that most people realize just how gargantuan a task it is to police New York. There are, for example, something like 600+ subway stations alone.

  207. Twba,

    how much do you wanna bet a clear bag would make absolutely no difference, and that cops would want to pull me over and search thru it anyway?

  208. Mo

    I don’t agree with profiling either, I feel like its ten steps behind, if you are going to profile people for bombs and you get lucky and find one, well that’s great, except the bomb’s already been made and the plot’s already been hatched — that’s the type of stuff we should be concerned with (a point made by others in this thread)

  209. I’m surprised that a thread concerning civil liberties and privacy and probable cause and whatnot, it turned into “everybody vs. joe.” If the subject were Social Security or city planning or whatnot it would make sense.

  210. Correction: NYC has 468 subway stations, roughly 6400 individual trains, ridership of 4.5 million on an average weekday (most in the world), 660 miles of passenger service track, etc…

    Sound daunting?

  211. I’m surprised that a thread concerning civil liberties and privacy and probable cause and whatnot, it turned into “everybody vs. joe.” If the subject were Social Security or city planning or whatnot it would make sense.

    I’m more surprised that Joe likes this idea.

  212. In other words, more people will ride the NYC subway today than live in most states. How do you police that???

    (OK, now I’m scaring myself)

  213. JMoore,

    there are 468 subway stations, many with a half-dozen entrances or more – so probably way over 600 entrances to be guarded. Plus 4,500 busses.

    Interestingly, on my way to work today, I saw no cops at the turnstiles, but a lot more cops than usual on the various station platforms. So I guess what they said about posting cops outside the station so you can “refuse” the search was not quite accurate.

  214. Thoreau,

    The threads usually degenerate because it’s “joe vs. everybody”. He takes the contrarian shitck to absurd levels.

  215. JMoore,
    Oddly enough, except for the occasional odd look, I’ve never had any problems. Granted, since 9-11, I’ve lived in NY, SF and LA. So going by my look is a relatively common and keeps me out of profile’s way (plus I’m always very polite, helpful and well spoken with law enforcement, so even at airports and customs checkpoints I don’t get hassled. Of course, maybe it’s because they don’t expect terrorists to talk like a Southern Californian with the “likes” and the “dude”.

    Of course, we’ll see how this hold up when I move to Indiana in 2 weeks.

  216. Rhywun

    It’s a clever ploy, isn’t it? Aren’t you more likely to consent to a search after you’ve already swiped your Metrocard? It would be a wasted fare if you refused and left. 🙂

  217. Mo,

    With all your moving about, and your ethnicity, and your politeness… you’re starting to fit the terrorist profile more and more!

  218. I’m surprised that a thread concerning civil liberties and privacy and probable cause and whatnot, it turned into “everybody vs. joe.”

    joe staked out a position defending the random searches of bags as an effective and responsible allocation of scarce resources in the quest to stop terrorism. It’s a position that apparently everyone else on this thread disagrees with. As usual, I’m glad there’s a counter voice, and I wish there were more than simply joe, but hey, I have no control over that.

  219. You know, if we absolutely must have the searches, doesn’t it make more sense to do them near the turnstile rather than on the platform? As joe pointed out, tunnels can concentrate the energy of a blast and lead to more casualties. On the platform is a little too late. “Oh, no, here comes the infidel cop. I was going to press the button at on the train. Guess I’ll do it now on the platform!”

    Not to mention that if the search is truly “voluntary” then it makes more sense to do it before the fare is paid.

  220. Mo

    Indiana? oh you are so screwed…

    I have an ethnic Iranian friend in England whose surname is Islam. No joke. Nice guy, too. Despite being as “English” as they come–can’t speak a word of anything but English–he is so definitely screwed. Poor bastard.

  221. Arguing that a measure that sacrifices our civil liberties is not worth the sacrifice because it is ineffectual is very dangerous. Whether or not random bag searches will work has nothing to do with our rights, and only opens the door for even more restrictive measures to be introduced.

    It would probably be much more effective to simply round up every young man of middle eastern descent and shift them off to some third-world hell hole. Would that be worth the cost to their freedom?

  222. And, unsurprisingly, the NY Times is cheerfully reporting that New Yorkers are “taking this in stride”.

  223. 222 posts in a thread with only one major detractor, no mention of creationism, and so far no significant discussion of Iraq.

    Wow.

  224. Thoreau,

    You obviously don’t live in NYC.

  225. JMoore,
    I have that beat. My middle name is Hussein, after my grandfather. It’s on my drivers license and my passport, so if I get pulled over I am really screwed.

  226. Thoreau,

    That was in reference to your “outside the turnstyles” suggestion… that would be a fargin mess.

  227. We’re used to it, Rhywun. We get used to all sorts of things here that would freak out people from the rest of the country. Ever notice how filthy stations tend to be? You might, but I’ll bet you just accept it and seem surprised if a visitor mentions it. Filth dripping from the ceiling? What filth? I don’t see no filth.

    Strip searches on the platform? Whadda you talkin bout?

  228. JMoore,

    I’m likely to bend over even if they pull me over outside the station, considering the cost of a cab or the hassle of walking a few blocks to another station. OK, the Times is also reporting that cops “reserve the right” to search you anywhere in the system. Great.

    I’m glad there’s a counter voice, and I wish there were more than simply joe, but hey, I have no control over that.

    I agree with joe on some issues – but this one is just so cut-and-dried for me.

  229. blammo-

    OK, I can imagine some logistical problems there.

  230. USA is in process of trying to seach Iraq and Afghanistan with 150K trained personnel. No American civilians are being blown up there, so why not redeploy all that talent to NYC?

  231. Mo,

    change your name, or we may never hear from you again…

    Good luck!

  232. Would anybody object if the MTA were privately owned, and as a condition of use private security agents could search you?

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  233. Where do you think you’re more likely to find an Islamic terrorist in NYC – riding on the subway or driving a cab?

  234. Just askin

    That’s pretty fucking racist.

  235. jc, you got nothin’. You are the weakest link. Good bye.

    “Joe, did the guy shot in the Tube today carry a bag?” No, Twba, he seems to have drawn attention to himself by acting squirrelly. Good thing there were cops around to notice, or a whole lot of sovereign individuals would have found their choices curtailed through coercion.

    Rhwyun, you can make as many counterfactual statements about the laws of physics as you want. Bombs still do more damage in enclosed spaces.

    Mo, “Oh and joe. The best way to deal with domestic terrorism is intelligence and law enforcement, not pointles bag searches.” Are you under the impression that CIA agents are being taken off the Al Qaeda beat to search bags on the subway, Mo?

  236. Just askin, if I were to take that question seriously, I’d say on a train. NY cabbies have to invest so much money to get their cabs I doubt even Osama himself could afford to be one.

  237. Would anybody object if the MTA were privately owned, and as a condition of use private security agents could search you?

    I wouldn’t, but if I don’t like the conditions of use I won’t use it. If the policy causes drops in ridership they’d have to change their policy.

    OK, in reality if it cut into ridership they’d ask for a government handout.

  238. Blammo

    actually, I wouldn’t object to private searches by a private company on a private train. private companies would tend to go out of their way to keep me happy–and they might say “Please remove your clothes” rather than “strip!”

    And I could always sue them more easily than I could the NYPD.

  239. Good thing there were cops around to notice, or a whole lot of sovereign individuals would have found their choices curtailed through coercion.

    Those individuals were already coerced away from carrying defensive weapons. The police create the public’s reliance upon them.

    I like thoreau bringing up the Klan. It is my understanding that they were made powerless by seizure of assets. Without money and property they couldn’t organize or promote their views effectively.

  240. joe,
    No. But the cops are being taken off other beats to stand in all the subway platforms. If they don’t figure out someone’s got a bomb until the platform, the damage can and will be done there. This makes no one safer.

  241. And to add to joe’s assertion that NYC’s subways are currently under some sort of “specific threat”, I wonder how long that “threat” will last. The cops have been searching random trucks in front of my office on Broadway for *three years* now. Yes, there have been no truck explosions on Wall Street lately, but neither have there been any anywhere else in the city.

  242. MTA should be regulated as a common carrier and a natural monopoly. Markets are for competition. Regulation is for situations where there are good reasons for not having competition.

    Hey, that smoked prrrr’ g’d.

  243. Well, damn. I thought I could avoid it, as I usually do, but it would appear that I have to go into the office today after all.

    And the office is in Times Square. Oh shit.

  244. you can make as many counterfactual statements about the laws of physics as you want. Bombs still do more damage in enclosed spaces.

    Most of my examples WERE enclosed spaces. But the greater point is that preventing terrorism in the subway – if it were even remotely possible – does nothing to prevent anyone from terrorizing other, equally crowded places in the city. The whole thing is an exercise in futility.

  245. Mediageek – how about a bumpersticker that says exactly the same? On the other hand, this just might present the probable cause. Damn.

  246. The cops have been searching random trucks in front of my office on Broadway for *three years* now.

    If we’re going to talk about Wall St. security stupidity, how about all the money someone (who?) spent to dig up the roads and put high tech collapsable security barriers in place. Before they were in place, they parked pickup trucks to act as barriers? And now? The pickup trucks are still there! And so is all the fencing on Wall St, which serves almost no purpose. If I was a suicide bomber, jumping the fence would be pretty easy.

  247. I swear, watching this thread has been a true spectator sport.

    I wonder if this stuff is archived and will be viewed by sociologists/political scientists a hundred years from now? A thousand years?

    A note for future’s people: You have it easy.

  248. MP,

    except you’ll a bullet in the back for your efforts (unless those guns really aren’t loaded, as I’ve heard somewhere).

  249. er… make that “all you’ll get is a bullet in the back”

  250. Do let’s talk about Wall St. stupidity. I want to know why my building – forty stories, thousands of workers – does not merit the security of the NY Stock Exchange, which as I understand it is a (quasi?) private institution, yet demands millions of public dollars in protection (soldiers, pick up trucks, bomb-sniffing dogs, fences – the works).

  251. “unless those guns really aren’t loaded, as I’ve heard somewhere”

    Rule #1: All guns are always loaded.

  252. Rhywun,

    Two reasons. First, there is a widespread belief in this country that terrorists would only attack highly symbolic, high profile targets. Natural, given the targets that have been hit recently (WTC, Pentagon, attempt on Congress or White House, Murrah building). Perhaps the attention to the subways is an indication that this mistaken notion is changing.

    Second, blowing up an ordinary office building would be a human tragedy on a massive scale, but blowing up the Exchange would put our economy in the crapper to boot.

  253. joe,

    Losing up the physical NYSE building would be far more significant in its human impact than any economic disruption it might cause. The trading market is already conducted predominantly via electronic networks.

    The trading floor is obsolete and ornamental, so shutting down operations there would be a temporary inconvenience at most.

  254. joe,

    My question was somewhat rhetorical. Of course I can understand why society places a greater value on the lives of stock traders than on the rest of us. It still stinks, though. And I want to know why they don’t pay for their own damn security. On the other hand, I have to say I prefer the relatively hassle-free security of my building.

  255. Russ R.
    Not to mention they have a back up floor. The main economic cost would be rebuilding the building and the infrastructure in the building.

  256. On the subject of financial buildings… A bank building in Toronto (across the street from my office building) was evacuated today due to a bomb threat.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050722.wtdtow0722/BNStory/National/

    All the employees are now out, and have been instructed to go home… on a Friday afternoon. How convenient. (Ok, I’m jealous.)

  257. I’ll take your for it on the electronic trading, Russ R. Nonetheless, the psychological impact of the stock market getting hit would be huge, especially for traders, and psychology seems to drive the market to a large extent.

  258. Joe, I’d like to thank you for all your hard work. I have quite a few “progressive” friends who I show your comments to. The unanimous response is one of disbelief in the stupidity of city planners.

    Do you realize how badly you’re making your profession look in the eyes of your fellow true blue progressives? Just wondering — I know you don’t care what us libertarians think.

    Carry on the good fight, brother! And go Sox.

  259. Has anyone else noticed that the arguments Joe’s using to defend this plan, and searches in general, have absolutely nothing to do with this plan?

    The plan is random searches. The plan Joe defends is “random searches, with dedicated surveillance teams at every New York subway station to track and monitor people who refuse searches in a suspect manner, with a possibility of cameras in restroom stalls, I guess. That is, of course, when he’s not randomly invoking the idea of searching people who arouse police suspicion, or the public defense role of governments.

    Naturally, when someone pins him down on the actual plan, or his plan, he switches between them or starts randomly invoking the aforementioned rhetorical escape routes.

    I will say, he’s good at what he does.

  260. It’s this strange affliction I share with other non-fanatics, Eric. We actually allow our ideas to become refined based on arguments and facts.

  261. I’m supposed to feel bad about what kmw’s “progressive” friends think?

  262. I just read through the thread and I must say I agree with everybody who is against Joe. I am glad Joe is here as without him this thread, and many others would be short and not as fun to read. Let?s hear it for Joe! (Honestly, no sarcasm intended.)

    I think bomb-sniffing dogs would be a much better method of ‘searching’ for bombs. Or maybe a bomb ‘detonating chamber’ that everyone must walk though on the way to the train? I know it’s science fiction, but can you see the fun it would cause?

    In chess, football, or any competition you better not expect your opponent to do the same thing over and over. Defending against the attacks of yesterday will probably not help you much tomorrow. If the next bomber hits a crowded mall or any other place where people gather will the government start searches there? Will they move the cops from the subways and the rooftops to the newest ‘campaign’ Site? Will that open up the subways again?

    There is no limit to the targets, only a limit to the forces to defend the targets. I wonder if the government may be losing the competition with the enemy on purpose for the sole purpose of gaining even more authority over the masses.

  263. It’s this strange affliction I share with other non-fanatics, Eric. We actually allow our ideas to become refined based on arguments and facts.

    Well put, Joe. I think its cool. Wish more ppl did.

  264. “I’m supposed to feel bad about what kmw’s “progressive” friends think?”

    I’m not sure that’s what he’s saying joe. …Maybe he’s sayin’ that your arguments don’t make sense to his progressive friends, so they can’t be valid. …Don’t his friends have internet access, I wonder?

    …Haven’t you shown kmw’s comments to your friends?

    ; )

  265. Joe, you got it all wrong, I’m thanking you. Don’t feel bad about anything.

    You put on a jolly good show.

  266. And I email the comments.

  267. It’s this strange affliction I share with other non-fanatics, Eric. We actually allow our ideas to become refined based on arguments and facts.

    Aw, c’mon. That doesn’t even rhetorically have anything to do with my post, much less logically. You’re getting sloppy today, Joe. Might just want to pack it in and make a post declaring victory over the fanatical libertoids.

  268. Granted, these are dudes of the moveon.org variety, so they’re probably a decent amount to the left of Joe.

    At any rate, I’m trying to articulate the following:

    (A) Gadflies are good, and Joe is the best.

    (B) Joe is so good that he takes it over the top sometimes, and that introduces question marks in the eyes of people who would ordinarily reject libertarianism. He makes my efforts to spread the good libertarian word easier.

  269. To treat something Joe posted yesterday with some seriousness, has anyone been able to substantiate his claim the MTA isn’t fundamentally restricted by normal Constitutional restrictions to searches? That struck me as odd and at odds with the imposition of a random search, as opposed to targeted searches.

  270. Eric,

    After posting that comment, I had reason to remember that my statement about Authorities not being subject to the Constitution was actually complete bullshit. Sorry about that.

    Bobster, they are using bomb-sniffing dogs.

  271. Maybe, kwm. But his distressingly remarkable faith in authority (the who are YOU to argue with the FBI? and the of course the NYPD will run their searches like an operation out of Mission Impossible and track anyone who acts remotely suspicious and catch the bad guys schticks, in particular) just make me glad I grew out of being a liberal.

  272. After posting that comment, I had reason to remember that my statement about Authorities not being subject to the Constitution was actually complete bullshit. Sorry about that.

    OK, thanks.

  273. Yes, Eric, you’ve grown up all the way to “The government is always wrong” and “Let’s just kill the bad guys.”

  274. Joe,

    Bobster, they are using bomb-sniffing dogs.

    Good. I think that should be enough to give the people the feeling of security that they so desperately need without having to mess with all the searches.

  275. Yes, Eric, you’ve grown up all the way to “The government is always wrong” and “Let’s just kill the bad guys.”

    Well, it’s a step beyond “It’s not even possible for the government to be wrong about this!” and “Let’s just do anything that reassures the most gullible members of the public that the government is doing something“.

  276. Daily NYC public transit users: 7 million +

    Number of NYC subway trains in service on an average day: 6400

    Number of NYC public buses in service on an average day (and remember, buses constituted 1/4 of the attack targets in London this month): 1228

    Number of subway stations: 468 (nearly all of which have multiple entrances)

    Number of public bus stops: 12,355

    Yeah, this will be effective.

  277. That’s right…searching back packs is the most effective way to stop terrorists. Scouring every mosques would be a waste of time, not to mention racist.

  278. passingthru-

    What good would scouring mosques do? Do you expect them to bring their bombs to the mosque? I’d imagine that most terrorists keep their bombs in a private location until they’re ready to use them.

    So searching the mosques for bombs won’t do much good. What else might we do when scouring the mosques? Ask the guys there if they hate America? I imagine any Muslim with an ounce of intelligence, terrorist or otherwise, will no better than to trash-talk America when being interviewed by Homeland Security agents. And this is America, after all. The Constitution gives everybody the right to talk smack about it, including Muslims.

    So scouring the mosques for negative opinions won’t do much good.

    So what would we scour the mosques for?

  279. Scouring every mosque probably would be a waste of time. It’s just a brainless gimmick solution.

    If the imminent concern is the NY subways being bombed, I’m still waiting for an explanation of what’s wrong with simply posting more cops there to look out for genuinely suspicious activity and search anyone if they have probable cause. I guess that sounds too much like the government functioning as it’s supposed to.

  280. Why believe this is about *security*? It’s much more effective at swelling the ranks of NYC’s public employees unions than it is at saving lives.

  281. “That secondary purpose makes it less likely that the searches will pass constitutional muster”
    Is this a joke? Who’s been interpreting your constitution lately?

  282. Bob, you’re on to a joe-friendly solution. Let’s make everyone a state employee. If we’re all watchmen, we won’t need anyone to watch us. Brilliant!

  283. Dynamist,

    But who will watch the watchmen? I bet we could outsource it to India.

  284. Now that I think about it. Who does watch the cops to make sure they are not sneaking bombs into peoples bags? We may need to hire some super-security-freedom police to watch them. Same union so all is well.

  285. Freedom Police! Will that stick?

  286. Meta-watchmen?

  287. So what would we scour the mosques for?

    Would it be wrong to look for grizzled veterans of the Afghan-Soviet war who are now mentoring angry young men onto the jihad fast track? Would it be wrong to look for islamomarxist preachers inciting violence against infidels? It would be helpful if moderate muslims alerted the coppers to these isolated situations, because I don’t think the cops will find much without inside help.

  288. Would it be wrong to look for grizzled veterans of the Afghan-Soviet war who are now mentoring angry young men onto the jihad fast track? Would it be wrong to look for islamomarxist preachers inciting violence against infidels?

    How do we look for these things?

    “Hey, anybody here advocating suicide bombing? No? OK, sorry.”

    I have no problem with keeping an eye on people who go around calling for violence, but you have to approach it a little more intelligently than simply sending FBI agents to mosques to start hassling people.

    What we need is a careful, intelligent, under the radar approach that allows for close surveillance when the cops present a judge with probable cause to believe that an individual is mentoring young people into violence.

  289. Louis Farrakhan? I think he hangs out in mosques. Or at least he used to. I haven’t heard much about him lately. The Freedom Police would leave him alone as messing with him will lead to a serious political butt kicking.

  290. Thoreau, I ain’t so stupid to think cops barging into mosques are gonna find much. It would be helpful if moderate muslims alerted the coppers to these isolated situations, because I don’t think the cops will find much without inside help.

  291. Somone make up this fake mastercard ad for the past two days in NYC:

    14 million riders
    1 machette
    thousands of cops wasting valuable resouces.

    4th amendment = Worthless

  292. Who brings a machette onto the subway?

    Are they that crowded? 🙂

  293. Yes, Eric, you’ve grown up all the way to “The government is always wrong” and “Let’s just kill the bad guys.”

    He’s only erring on the side of caution, just like the authorities told him to.

  294. Who brings a machette onto the subway?

    A machete would be useless because you can’t raise your arms high enough to use it.

  295. I have only been to New York City once and I must say from my experience a machette would be useful for getting on and off the car.

  296. This machete is not a weapon. I am merely conveying to Kofi Annan a symbol of gratitude for his non-intverntionist policy in the Rwandan struggle. I further wish to congratulate him on his ascendancy and continued extension of the policies which proved so successful for my people.

    Now, please return my symbol of peace so I can deliver it to the UN.

  297. Rhywun;

    I didn’t think of that. I guess it may only be good for getting on the car.

  298. Predictions: (no sarcasm intended this time)

    1) Random inspections will not result in the capture of a single bomber. Terrorists will bomb the NYC subways just for spite.
    2) Bombings will also occur in the heartland. Malls, buses, and schools will be the targets.
    3) An anti-terrorist vigilante movement will arise in America. Muslims will be the target. Both the Muslim and Anti-Muslim terrorists will gain recruits and escalate the violence.
    4) The Republicans will rush through a constitutional amendment to allow Bush to run for a third term to save us from the terrorists on all sides. He will be elected in a landslide due to “his proven effectiveness in the war on terror”.
    5) Pundits will analyze the election and conclude that it would have been much worse under Hillary.
    6) The USA invades Bumfuckistan.
    7) SCOTUS rules that no-knock warrantless home searches may be carried out by any policeman, mailman, meter reader, paper boy, or passerby if the homeowner is suspected of terrorist ties (or posting to this website). FOX news praises the “no nonsense approach to the WOT”.
    8) Canada swells with a wave of immigration from the US.

  299. Three hundred posts. Wow.

  300. It would be helpful if moderate muslims alerted the coppers to these isolated situations, because I don’t think the cops will find much without inside help.

    TWBA,
    Something tells me barging into someone’s house of worship isn’t the best way to recruit for help. I know people that have offered to help without hearing anything back.

    After Sept 11, my father and I both applied for jobs with the CIA and FBI. My father had been recruited by the CIA 20 years ago, but never accepted the offer. He speaks fluent Arabic (and English), is a model citizen, one heck of a programmer (top of his ’78 masters class at USC) and has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years (in IT). Not to mention he knows a lot of people in the liberal democratic movements in Egypt, he’s reads all of the major dissident papers and has a whole host of contacts that would serve the US well. He didn’t hear a word back. Same goes for me. Granted my resume isn’t as impressive as his, I only have 5 years financial services experience, my Arabic isn’t quite as good, I’m not quite as model a citizen and I’m not the programmer he is (I’m more a statistical analyst than programer). I also heard nothing back (less surprising). No, “Thank you for your interest”, we’ll keep your resume on file, not even a simple “No” that you would get from a private firm. So instead we kepty plugging away in private industry.

    Yet, I keep reading in the paper that we have a dearth of Arabic speaking FBI agents. Maybe we should try taking advantage of the resources that are readily available and don’t require trashing the very freedoms terrorists supposedly hate us for before we start trashing those freedoms out of necessity.

  301. Bumfuckistan has been asking for it!

  302. “mentoring young people into violence” ??? Like the US Armed forces ?

  303. When you can show me truly that any of the security measures put into effect have a ROI ( return on investment ) that puts a human life at less than 10 million dollars…. I will be impressed. I could live a pretty damned good life for 10 mill. If you understand what I just said, more than likely you are one of those knuckleheads that represent 80% of the US population.

  304. correction to previous comment …… I entered a typo

    If you do NOT understand what I just said, more than likely you are one of those knuckleheads that represent 80% of the US population.

  305. RE Terrorism in China (about 200 posts ago)

    There’s actually quite a bit of very bloody terrorism going on in China, particularly in the province of Xinjiang, by Muslim separatists. And the governmental crackdown there is so fierce that Xinjiang is now known as the death-penalty capital of the world.

  306. GWCB,
    Shhh. Don’t let Texas find out.

  307. puppetboy

    I took a class on cost-benefit analysis. I was told a human life was valued 400,000 sacajaweia’s. (I had to look up that spelling) I don’t think the value has changed. Basically, a person is willing to increase his chance of death by 1% for 4,000 buckaroonies (no spelling check needed) per year.

  308. Canada swells with a wave of immigration from the US.

    Well, at least I won’t be the only one anymore then.

  309. I did a quick search on GWCB’s post about Xinjiang. Very interesting. China has an aggressive program of control and assimilation of Muslims, which seems to be breeding extremist reaction. The west is not the only area of Muslim conflict, and the ME is not the only are where “Islamic Culture” is being compromised.

  310. The Chinese have an aggressive program of assimilating anyone who isn’t Han. We don’t hear nearly enough about what’s going on there. But as long as they keep selling us dirt cheap goods, who cares, right?

  311. Happily, USA has established a big base just across the imaginary line in Kyrgyzstan. We can look forward to hearing all about Han and Uighur terror campaigns soon enough. Yay!

  312. So here comes a terrorist with a backpack bomb into a long line of people waiting to be searched. Cop “I want to check your bag ,please open it”. Achmed, “No”. Cop, “Then you must leave now”. Achmed, “OK”. Turns, reaches into bag, presses button and blows the cop and a hundred people to hell. But hey, I FEEL safer.

  313. Mo-

    The thing is, your application is probably still being processed. Considering how many hands some paperwork has to pass through in the federal government, it’s entirely possible that the applications from you and your father were fast-tracked!

    To give some perspective, everybody here will be pleased to learn that I am not taking any of your tax dollars…because somebody forgot to add me to the payroll. Supposedly it will be fixed at some point. Hopefully before my landlord notices problems with my bank account.

    The only reason I found this out was because I kept nagging about my salary advance. Supposedly it should have come, well, in advance. But I’ve been here almost 3 weeks now and no word. So I asked the secretary if they had the right bank account number. Then I learned that the government contractor that handles payroll had cheerfully processed my direct deposit application without raising a fuss over the fact that the secretary never gave a bank account number. I’m in their database, and as soon as they receive the funds they’ll deposit them in bank account number (blank).

    Even worse, in the process of nagging them I learned that nobody has put me on the payroll. Oh, somebody in the research office has approved the fellowship, but the people who actually do the payroll haven’t done anything about it.

    Why? Well, there is a very competent secretary who knows what she’s doing. But she can only prepare documents. Somebody in another building, who’s never reachable, has to approve all of them. Why? Don’t ask. But everything goes through her: Keys, payroll, purchases, access cards, travel funds, everything. Somebody in my building puts the paperwork together, then it’s sent to somebody else whose sole purpose in life is to forget to stamp “approved” on it.

    Hence I don’t have my salary advance and I don’t have a key to my lab.

    So, Mo, the lesson here is that your application to the CIA has been put on a fast track. It’s winding its way through the system, and should be approved no later than 2008. Just be glad that you have a skill that’s in high demand. Otherwise you’d have to wait until, oh, 2015 to get to Langeley.

    Also, I should probably explain that the Democrats haven’t actually filibustered any judges. No, those judicial nominees were approved, but they haven’t been added to the payroll or given the necessary ID badge to enter the courthouse.

  314. On the plus side, Mohammed Atta’s visa application was approved. So that’s something.

  315. thoreau: Sounds like they’ve got you mixed up with Dr. Doctor Doctor Doctor. Be wary if Yossarian offers to lend you his key to the lab. I think they’re trying to get him.

  316. Mo,

    I’m not sure if my sarcasm was apparent, but I do not advocate “barging into someone’s house of worship.” I know what you’re talking about in regard to the CIA. They couldn’t find their asses if I gave them maps and flashlights.

  317. The steady erosion of our civil liberties is extremely troubling. And people like Joe are all too willing to sacrifice essential freedoms in favor of some illusory sense of “safety.”

    Y’know, because I live in a large city, I have to drive a lot. My risk of dying in a terrorist attack is just about zero. The chance of my being killed by a drunk driver is, in contrast, significantly more probable.

    But I don’t endorse freeway checkpoints to screen all drivers for possible use of alcohol. I accept that random checkpoints would likely reduce the danger of a drunken driver killing me, but I weigh that risk and prefer to retain my liberty in exchange for slightly reduced “safety.”

    Having the police dig through your belongings, pawing over them, making smart-aleck remarks about what they find, handling your private property without cause is genuinely offensive and unpalatable in a free society. We move toward a police state not in large, obvious stages, rather we arrive there incrementally as a result of a steady, persistent chipping away at our rights to privacy and freedom from unwarranted searches.

  318. Mo–
    Having spent a year selling stuff on eBay and delivering it through the US Mail, I say this in all sincerity: maybe you and your dad’s applications just plain got lost. If y’all still want to do it, why not re-send the letters? It wouldn’t cost you more than the stamp.

    Besides, the way things are going I figure I, personally, would benefit by having a friend in the CIA, even if it’s only an Internet friend I’ve never seen in real life. If I get Gitmo’d for smoking a bong or refusing to let a greasy NY cop paw through my makeup bag you could maybe use your influence to get me out. You’ll hear about me; I’ll be the prisoner sarcastically saying, “Fuck yeah, EVERYBODY knows that female atheist libertarians with Jewish last names make up the fucking backbone of the Muslim extremist movement.”

  319. I found this buried near the end of an article in today’s Times:

    At Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, officers were seen asking riders to show a driver’s license or other identification and writing down the personal information. Several of the riders – whose bags were searched but who were not detained or told they had done anything wrong – said in interviews that they felt their privacy had been violated.

    Excuse me, but WTF?? Less than a day into this, and the cops are already abusing their power. Shocking.

    Then there’s this:

    Eve Holbrook, 35, who works at a law firm, submitted to a search at the station without being asked. “It gives me a sense of comfort,” she said. “I went up there of my own free will.”

    Thanks for doing your part, Eve.

  320. officers were seen asking riders to show a driver’s license or other identification and writing down the personal information.

    That stolen cop uniform has already enabled me to check dozens of drivers licenses, credit cards, and other goodies in wallets. Good thing everybody thinks this is for their own safety!

    And Eve, I’m afraid that I’ll also need to examine the contents of your laptop computer.

  321. Well, I was not searched at all yesterday. Given the possibility that I just might mouth off at any cop that tries to search me, I believe I’m not going to carry a bag anymore. Until the courts hopefully straighten this out.

  322. Here’s a crazy idea. Instead of trying to stop bombers from getting on the subway right before they get on, we could stop them from getting some FUCKING EXPLOSIVES!

  323. Eve Holbrook, 35, who works at a law firm, submitted to a search at the station without being asked. “It gives me a sense of comfort,” she said. “I went up there of my own free will.”

    Please tell me she’s the cleaning person and not a lawyer.

  324. Come to think of it, I’m not sure which is worse: That Ms. Holbrook was stupid enough to volunteer to be searched so that she might sleep well, safe in the knowledge that, no, she really isn’t a terrorist; or the fact that she is apparently so proud of her vindication that she felt compelled to share her idiocy with the world by speaking to a reporter.

    Either way, it is the evident abundance of people like her that make it easy for law enforcement to continue their insatiable encroachment on freedoms big and small, all the while convincing people that it’s for their own good. After all let’s not forget that, according to the “Click It of Ticket” campaign, cops write tickets to save lives!

  325. “islamomarxist preachers”

    OK, “islamofascist” was stupid and inaccurate enough, but this is really just getting out of hand.

  326. OK, “islamofascist” was stupid and inaccurate enough, but this is really just getting out of hand.

    fascist: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. (from dictionary.com)

    SR, I’m curious what part of that is inaccurate with respect to the type of government the Islamic fundamentalists have installed whenever they have had power?

  327. And then there’s this….but it’s really ok, because I don’t want to be blown up by terrorists on the subway, and I feel safer now! After all, this is just one of the tradeoffs we make for security, right?

  328. The death of an apparently innocent man should be a warning bell to anybody who thinks governments deserve extra discretion when dealing with alleged terrorists.

  329. Uh, thoreau, the “extra discretion” in this case was the authority to shoot to kill when faced with a suicide bomber about to go off.

    You don’t think they should have that “discretion” – because of your concern about innocent people being killed.

    OK.

  330. That snaps it. Only police and the military should be allowed to have guns.

  331. the authority to shoot to kill when faced with a suicide bomber about to go off

    It might be nice if they had some guidelines as to whom they can shoot on suspicion of being a suicide bomber and whom they can’t shoot. Or at least a guideline like “Once you’ve tackled the guy who might be a suicide bomber, try not to shoot him 5 times. Simply tackling him, or even firing one shot, is probably enough to render him harmless. Five shots means we’ll have to pay a big settlement if he turns out to be innocent. And that means less money for processing ED claims.” 😉

  332. Maybe George Bush should give those London cops a Medal of Freedom.

  333. So we’re safer because the cops have discretion to shoot anybody, even though they’re incapable of telling the difference between bombers and innocent people? We could give every citizen a gun and have results better than that. But, of course, gun ownership and use has to have “reasonable” limits that don’t apply to cops.

  334. I really feel sorry for the Brazilian dude that was killed. After all, he ran from the Police, jumped a turnstile and attempted to evade the Police when being told multiple times to stop. I hope all violators of the law to come to a similar ending. You guys on this forum are a bunch of whiners. Whaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!

  335. I don’t approve of anyone searching me, even if there are bombings in other countries. It don’t mean that it will happened over here. I will just have to ride the bus or taxi to work now.

    I guess that I will keep my head in the ground and say that 9-11 never happened.

    I wonder if my freedom of speech will be violated on this board???

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