The TSA wants to be everywhere in 2013 — here’s why we shouldn’t let it

Photo by Nathan Hansen/Hansenlawoffice.com
Photo by Nathan Hansen/Hansenlawoffice.com
When the Minnesota Vikings faced off against the Green Bay Packers last weekend in Minneapolis, the big story wasn’t that the Vikings defeated the Pack to secure a wildcard berth.

It was, strangely, the TSA.

That’s right, the agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems was patrolling the Metrodome. Nathan Hansen, a North St. Paul, Minn., attorney, snapped a few photos of the agents before the game, and broadcast them on Twitter.

“I don’t think any federal law enforcement agency needs anything to do with a football game,” he told me yesterday.

Turns out the TSA goes to NFL games and political conventions and all kinds of places that have little or nothing to do with air travel. It even has a special division called VIPR — an unfortunate acronym for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team — that conducts these searches.

Few people know that $105 million of their taxpayer dollars are going to fund 37 VIPR teams in 2012, whose purpose is to “augment” the security of any mode of transportation. They don’t realize that these VIPR teams can show up virtually anytime, anywhere and without warning, subjecting you to a search of your vehicle or person.

That’s not a fringe observation, by the way. Even the most mainstream news outlets have reported on the problems of these random checkpoints. And it’s being observed by mainstream news personalities, not just consumer advocates with a long list of grievances from their constituents.

But almost no one noticed when the Department of Homeland Security signaled its intent to broaden the scope of its off-airport searches even more in 2013. Buried deep in the Federal Register in late November was a notice that could dramatically shift the focus of transportation security. It involves the government’s efforts to “establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation” through the Highway Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) program.

As far as I can tell, TSA is just asking questions at this point. “Data and results collected through the Highway BASE program will inform TSA’s policy and program initiatives and allow TSA to provide focused resources and tools to enhance the overall security posture within the surface transportation community,” it says in the filing.

But they wouldn’t be wasting our money asking such questions unless they planned to aggressively expand VIPR at some point in the near future. And that means TSA agents at NFL games, in subways, and at the port won’t be the exception anymore — they will be the rule.

Still, some will argue, what’s wrong with that? After all, VIPR teams were formed in response to the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and shouldn’t we play it safe?

VIPR may be limited to a few men and women in uniform with dogs, patrolling a sold-out stadium or convention center for now. But it’s not hard to imagine the next step, to a permanent presence with full-body scans and pat-downs. It’s a scene straight out of a dystopian novel, and a direct affront to the Fourth Amendment values we take for granted in the United States.

On another level, there’s this: The TSA was created mainly to safeguard our airports from another 9/11 attack. Being scanned or interrogated by an airport screener at a ballgame makes about as much sense as getting pulled over for speeding by a National Guardsman rattling down the Interstate in an Abrams tank. You would pull over for him, sure — but you would also have a lot of questions.

If VIPR teams are somehow more effective than the highway patrol or the local police at stopping terrorists — and I’m open to that possibility — then the Department of Homeland Security should show us that evidence. In the absence of that, we’re left to assume that the VIPR agents have the requisite 120 hours of training required of other agents, and that they are little more than warm bodies that will deter petty criminals from running cigarettes across a state line.

As we start 2013, the TSA is asking the wrong questions. Instead of being a solution in search of a problem, it should be trying to slim down, get smarter about the way it screens airline passengers, and leaving the rest to the well-trained professionals they will never be able to replace.

If we don’t say something about the TSA’s uncontrollable spread into almost every aspect of the American travel experience, we could one day soon find ourselves answering to someone in a paramilitary blue uniform whenever we set foot outside our door.

That’s not the America you want to live in, is it?

Should the TSA expand VIPR?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.

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  • bodega3

    At the 1984 summer Olympics in CA, there were military with guns patroling outside the soccer stadium. At the World Cup at Stanford Stadium, helicopters with doors open and militarry personnel with machine guns flew back and forth over us. During the 4th of July in Washington DC TSA, undercover officers, military, police were everywhere. Last night there were DUI check points all over my county. I have to go to the court house tomorrow and I will have to have my bag searched if I wish to enter. Park rangers that park nearby to check on poachers now carry guns. Security cameras are going up daily. There are now many security patrols at local malls with uniform guards walking around, along with many who are undercover. Police are stationed on many school campuses. Air marshalls are on many flights. After dark, police are stationed inside some stores. Police are at most subway stations. Do I like this? We have a problemed society and world to thank and unless you can come up with a way to improve the idiots that walk amongst us, all your complaining isn’t going to do a thing. However, you could use your column to be a part of some solutions.

  • Grueny

    Whether or not they do a good job at their goal aside, let’s look at what they are suppose to be doing. TRANSPORTATION SAFETY. Yes, the airport is where they are most predominant. But if they show up at Union Station to guard Amtrak, would I really be suprised? No. If they show up and set up a checkpoint out of nowhere at a subway stop in Chicago, would I avoid it? probably, because I figure they probably don’t jsut throw a dart at the board and decide where to show up. They do have to somewhat justify where they set up, and I’m guessing if they show up at a subway stop, there’s a reason they showed up there, and I probably want to try to avoid it.
    That being said, I was in Grant Park in Chicago on election night in 2008 for Obama’s election night acceptance speech. Or with 200,000 people there, we’ve referred to it as Obama-palooza. At first I was a little suprised to see TSA there. But then I thought about it. Obviously Secret Service has to have security there. They need to get a VERY large group of people through. Who has the most experience at this? TSA. Who has the equiptment to handle this? TSA. If the TSA didn’t assist the Secret Service in this, then the Secret Service would have to buy their own equiptment, and hire more people for this event. Does that really make since when another federal agency has the people and equiptment to assist? Not really. So one agency assisting another, not a huge deal to me.
    Now, does the TSA belong at a private event like a football game? H – E – double hockey sticks … NO. If the NFL, a private organization, or the Minnesota Vikings, a private company, believes they need more security, then they can use the millions of dollars they make to spend it on security. Same holds true for the Super Bowl, World Series, Taste of Chicago, Milwaukee’s Octoberfest, or any other event.

  • all nations should adopt laws to secure citizens against those they intend to reverse Democratic authorities to paramilitary groups covered

  • EdB

    On thing I saw last year that really bothered me was my wife was watching an episode of ‘Cops’ when they were in Las Vegas. Seeing that she was watching the show was disturbing enough, but what really bothered me was the show wasn’t following along with the LVPD but HOMELAND SECURITY! DHS had actual “police” officers patrolling the strip and doing what I would call harassing the visitors/locals. When did the DHS get authority to enforce State/Local laws? In the episode, I saw them pulling cars over and randomly stopping people on the street they though were acting “strange”. I’m hoping what I saw was just a one time deal and it has since been rectified. I don’t think we need to be spending Federal funds to police areas that are already being policed by State and Local law enforcement.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    TSA screeners aren’t efficient, so they shouldn’t be used at large public events.

    Large public events aren’t transportation, so TSA shouldn’t be there.

    This is more security theater at the taxpayer’s expense.

    TSA, go home.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    I agree the DHS in that situation were overstepping their authority. We have city, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. They shouldn’t be crossing the agency lines except for very limited, specific operations that actually involve multiple levels of law infractions.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    Park rangers carrying weapons when investigating poachers makes sense.

  • cjr001

    TSA can’t get the job done at airports, so, yeah, why not not get the job done anywhere?

    And I’d love for somebody – with a straight face – to tell me what an NFL game has to do with transportation. Because it doesn’t. It never has, never will.

    TSA. Coming soon to a mall, theater, school, and private business near you!

  • EdB

    The football needs to be screened for air travel. Duh! *grin*

  • EdB

    And has been standard practice for some time..

  • Amy Alkon

    Those of you who have been so polite about your Fourth Amendment rights being yanked away, and those who have seen no reason to squeal when others’ rights are yanked from them — well, we have you to thank.

    Will you finally complain about the rights violation when you are stopped on your way to the supermarket, despite there being no evidence that you are part of a plot any more sinister than having milk for your coffee in the morning?

  • scapel@suddenlink.net

    Put TSA Under DNS and try to prevent illegal people coming into the country. The WOP’s were made legal. The government was able to keep up with them before we had computers.

  • ClareClare

    Impressive, a justification for the unjustifiable that’s straight out of Nuremberg! Although their German grammar and syntax were probably better (“problemed society”?)…

  • Daisiemae

    Another example of useless DHS overstepping: while at my local Social Security office, I observed two DHS cars in the parking lot. I guess they were protecting their employees against irate senior citizens, right? When I saw them, I ditched the bombs, grenades, and assault rifles I brought with me. (For anyone too dense to get it–like DHS trolls–that was sarcasm).

    Adding insult to injury, the two cars were parked alongside so the “officers” could talk to each other. They were just sitting there shooting the breeze–oblivious to all us senior citizen terrorists–drinking coffee. I guess the donuts were on the seat.

    I’m so happy to see my precious tax dollars at work protecting the world from crazed senior citizens. I wonder if they will search my diaper next time I have to go there? If so, I’ll make certain to give them a nice present.

  • Bill

    Rights yanked away like the Patriot Act did? Just wondering?

  • y_p_w

    There are law enforcement positions within several of our federal land management agencies, including the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service. They’ve had to deal with criminal activity (poachers, illegal weapons, petty crime, illegal pot farms, etc), and there’s a complicated web of who has authority to enforce local laws.

    The US Park Police is part of the National Park Service, and they have wide latitude to enforce laws in DC. They supplement Secret Service protection for the President while in DC, and they even help protect foreign dignitaries visiting DC. They even have a SWAT team. However, their primarily duties are investigating crimes on NPS land as well as some regular patrols (around DC, NYC, and San Francisco) just like the law enforcement rangers.

    However, I would also note that the TSA isn’t a “law enforcement agency” per se, just like NPS isn’t even though they have some armed personnel. The federal Sky Marshal program is a law enforcement subdivision of TSA, but that’s about it. TSA always calls in local law enforcement when there’s a serious issue because they don’t have powers of arrest or detention.

  • “But if they show up at Union Station to guard Amtrak, would I really be suprised?”

    They already have. Also in the DC Metro.

    “They do have to somewhat justify where they set up, and I’m guessing if they show up at a subway stop, there’s a reason they showed up there”

    No, they don’t. They don’t have to justify anything. They just show up. They admit it. This is obedience training for the public, which should be obvious by now. Click the links in this column about VIPR.

  • Any citizen worthy of the name would utter those 8 magic words: “No, I do not consent to this search.”

    But one wonders how many citizens we have left.

  • Daddydo

    It’s almost time to leave TSA alone. Unless you and all of us readers are ready to petition the government to totally rebuild the “PRODUCT” that is Big Brother at its worse, nobody is going to care in our government. TSA is designed to screw with our heads, bodies, and at times souls. There are 1000’s of youtube TSA disasters and you have at least 1 or 2 great events per week. It is more than entertaining, as 1/2 of these events have happened to my clients, but are we all getting to the point agreeing that TSA is a bad system. Punishment for abuse is minimum to them for any abuse, but maximum fines and jail for us. RE-read George’s 1984 and see if TSA can be inserted into every page. HMMMM?

  • James D

    They already been in school. TSA was manning a checkpoint with full pat down at a couple of High School proms in 2011 and 2012. Look it up!

  • James D

    They were on Houston Metro public buses questioning the bus riders where they were going, what they were doing when they get there, who were they going to see, where did they come from before getting on the bus, and searching passengers’ bags and purses and briefcases, etc etc Nazi Germany! Show me your papers! Are you a Juden? Where’s your travel pass to go from city to city?

  • cahdot

    for years our nfl stadium in jacksonville,fl had gloved people rubbing u all over and going thru ur pockets and purses before u could enter the stadium, now they have metal detectors and wands finally the glove rubbing all over one’s person was really disgusting.. and they did not change gloves between rubs

  • A reminder to keep the discourse civil, please.

  • emanon256

    They do the exact same thing in NY Penn Station. It is scary!

  • bodega3

    And you don’t think we have a problemed society? Tell that to the parents of the children murdered in CT! While you and the others complain, which is your right in our country, I also don’t see you providing any solutions to improve things.

  • Waijma

    We don’t need another gestapo in the United States!

  • EdB

    What you mean another gestapo? We don’t need ANY period.

  • James, an idiot judge went along with an idiot school district and wanted the TSA to grope prom-goers in Santa Fe, but it never happened:

    http://www.koat.com/news/new-mexico/No-TSA-Agents-At-Prom-Despite-Court-Ruling/-/9153762/6125936/-/15guvxy/-/index.html

    The reason given, however, hardly warms one’s heart: ‘”With it being late Friday afternoon, there just wasn’t time to achieve that,” Santa Fe superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez said.’

  • Owassonian

    They ‘transport’ the football from one end of the field to the other. Sometimes more often in one direction than the other. To administer for them to be able to safely transport that football, it’s deemed that TSA is necessary!

  • Daisiemae, it gets worse. Armed DHS goons harassed senior citizens at a local Social Security office in Leesburg, Virginia last January. You can’t make this sh*t up:

    http://www.dailycommercial.com/News/LakeCounty/010412shield

  • bodega3, we have, as you know, provided suggested solutions dozens of times. But you like to ignore this fact and keep beating your drum.

  • James D

    After what happened in Houston, the Mayor told them to take a hike. So it hasn’t happened again but that’s not a guarantee that it won’t happen again.

  • bodega3

    No, you haven’t provided anything viable. The drum you keep pounding is dull and has a hole in it.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    But do we have the right/ability to refuse to allow our cars and persons to be searched w/o the benefit of a warrant without fear of reprisal? I find something to be EXTREMELY wrong with this and it involves the constitution.

  • Shannon Stout

    If stopped for no reason, just ask, “Am I free to go?” If yes, walk away. If no, find out why. Then clam up until your lawyer arrives.

  • MarkieA

    It seems – and correct me if I’m wrong – that you’re trying to make the point that BUSH STARTED IT, although I can’t see where Amy even goes down that path. I believe her point is that so many folks have turned a blind eye to this kind of Constitutional violation – no matter the origin- that the proverbial poo-poo is about to hit the oscillating wind device.

    But, I guess as long as you can cast blame on THE OTHER GUY. it’s OK that THE NEW GUY continues on in the same vein.

  • bodega3

    Most proms, without TSA, require pat downs of students, their cars checked and if the truck can’t be opened, the lock with be broken. This information is provided BEFORE the students buy the tickets.

  • MarkieA

    Lisa – whereas I agree with you most of the time, I think you need to be careful about Crying Wolf. The article makes no mention of “harassing senior citizens” and the Social Security Administration building is Federal property. The Federal Protection Service officers conduct these kinds of training exercises all the time ON FEDERAL PROPERTY. Now, if they had done this at a local business or even a State Government building, I would be concerned.

  • MarkieA

    I hope the “leave TSA alone” was done in sarcasm mode. Otherwise, is that your answer? Just give in? If the Government heaps enough abuse and weathers the criticism long enough, then just leave them alone?

  • MarkieA

    I’ll ask again. Where are our rights explained? I have absolutely no problem with “No! I don not consent to this search.” Actually, I can’t wait to try it out. However, when the response is, “Sir, according to federal law 1234.5657, we have the right to search any vehicle within x miles of an airport.”, I don’t know how to respond.

  • MarkieA

    Hmmm. I wonder how they handled all of this mess BEFORE TSA? Was TSA at the 2004 election events? 2000? I don’t think so.

  • Grueny

    Did any candidate have 200,000 people at their rally? I don’t think so.

  • MarkieA

    I believe – I hope – he is referring to WithOut Papers.

  • MarkieA

    Huh?

  • Grueny

    They do have to justify how they are spending their budget to their higher ups. They may not have to justify it to YOU, or the way most of us would like.

  • Grueny

    I did not claim they are efficient, except compared to people who may not do it as often, I.E. compared to having local police do it.
    Yes, large events are not transportation. I didn’t claim that either. Again, I suggested one agency assisting another isn’t the worst thing. At private events like football games, yes, GO AWAY.

  • Bill___A

    The TSA should patrol the airports and find out who is stealing items from people’s luggage. Oh! Wait! It is the TSA! Once they get their own problems sorted out, maybe they could think about expanding their mandate.

  • Daisiemae

    So far, I haven’t seen them at Port Authority bus terminal yet. If they show up there, I will repeat the magic words, “No, I do not consent to a search without a proper warrant.”

  • StarKiller

    Two words, the first starts with an ‘F’

  • Daisiemae

    TSA does not justify anything to anybody. They continually flout Congress and the courts. The Government Accountability Office is constantly saying that TSA is not handling their budget correctly, and TSA ignores them.

    TSA demands money and Congress collapses all over itself in its rush to meet TSA’s demands. They don’t justify anything to anybody. They are above the law and do as they please.

  • bodega3

    Yeah, that works if you want some attention from them.

  • Daisiemae

    What was the training exercise that DHS was performing at my local social security office? How to drink coffee and shoot the breeze?

    I want my tax dollars back. I don’t think I should have to go without medical care, food, clothing, and shelter to pay these fools to sit in the parking lot and goof off.

  • Daisiemae

    Bush and Obama are BOTH to blame for this sorry state of affairs. They should both be standing on the other side of that fan when it gets activated.

  • Daisiemae

    Oh….I thought it was a slur directed towards Italians. Glad to hear it’s not. My husband is Italian…but definitely not a Soprano.

  • Daisiemae

    TSA is not going to cite a statute. They are not lawyers. They are not even law enforcement. They are completely ignorant of the law and don’t care about it anyway. They may say they have the right to search without your consent, but they will not be quoting any specific law.

    If they force a search on you after you have stated that you do not consent, they are breaking the law (not that they care about that). But this gives you a good foundation for pursuing action against them.

  • ExplTravMag, yes, you still have the right to utter those 8 magic words: “No, I do not consent to this search.”

  • MarkieA, they may “conduct these training exercises all the time on federal property,” but it still scared the sh*t out of people who were just trying to collect their checks. There’s no wolf-crying here. This incident happened. And there was more coverage of it; I just posted one article. How many more do I have to post?

  • Grueny, unfortunately, no, so far they don’t have to justify anything. The worthless wankers in Congress keep shoveling the nearly $8 billion a year at the agency, no matter how many abuses are reported, even abuses against members of Congress themselves.

    That’s okay. Clearly we haven’t reached a critical mass. When more of said worthless wankers and their family members are abused, then we’ll see some change. Not until then.

  • MarkieA, 4th Amendment. Yes, I know it’s been trashed at the airport,
    and by the Patriot Act, and in unwarranted surveillance, which is going
    on all the time. I know. But when someone comes up to you anywhere
    other than an airport and demands to search you, they still don’t have
    the right to do it without probable cause. Say no.

    There are dozens of great videos on YouTube explaining this and actually
    demonstrating how to do it. Here’s a really short one. I can find the
    longer ones but it’ll take a while:

    The few measly rights we still have left we should be exercising. Because
    otherwise, just as with muscles, if we don’t use them, they’ll atrophy and go away.

  • 1amWendy

    bodega3, go to TSANewsBlog for coverage of offered solutions from experts.

  • bodega3

    That shows only columns from this website. Give me something that actually shows some viable ideas, not rants.

  • Bill

    Not saying Bush started it at all. Just saying that the Patriot act tore a lot of those rights away in the first place. There seems to be so much hyperbole and hand wringing about rights being removed yet no one is petitioning SCOTUS to overturn that act. And then every monday on the hate TSA column people complain about their rights being taken away by the TSA,

  • 1amWendy

    I direct you to Charlie Leocha’s testimony to Congress and Bruce Schneier’s recommendations. http://tsanewsblog.com/7812/news/house-subcommittee-on-aviation-hearing-november-29-2012/

  • bodega3

    Thanks, I did read it. I don’t care about the uniforms, not an important issue IMHO. Adjusting what you can take on board should always be reviewed. I would like not to have to go through the xray machine. But no where do I see address the concerns the anti TSA members here express, especially about the pat downs.

  • 1amWendy

    Stay tuned, Bodega3… I am getting up data to write exactly why, for a plurality of people so searched, why pat-downs should be changed, and changed to what.

  • emanon256

    The term used by scapel is a negative slur against Italians. It comes from what MarkieA is saying it stands for back when there was a lot of anti Italian racism as Italian immigrants started coming to the States.

  • Actually, not to get into a whole etymology thing here, but “wop” used as a slur against Italians comes not from “without papers” (which is an after-the-fact folk etymology), but from “guapo,” which is Spanish and which was commonly used to refer to “pretty boys” — it has to do with all the confusion and ignorance you can imagine on the part of some Americans towards immigrants of any kind. Regardless, scapel’s comment is nutty.

  • Wendy, you’re a trouper, but you’re wasting your breath. We’ve explained countless times both here and at TSA News (which, contrary to bodega3’s claims, is not merely a reprint of Elliott Blog posts) why current TSA practices are both abusive and unnecessary. He/she doesn’t want to hear it. I’d explain it all again, but it’s pointless.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    this would be funny if it wasn’t so stupid.
    Who takes ID to a ball game especially in USA where pick pockets abound.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    what would happen to a tourist in USA if he/she simply told these TSA idiots to go away ?
    In the land where everyone seems to have a gun, would TSA shoot them ?
    (we’re not talking about at the airport)

  • bodega3

    It has always been the case that you should carry an ID on you at all time.

  • bodega3

    All you do is talk and don’t produce anything that of worth.. Wendy at least provided me with more that you ever have. Many of you, Chris included, are very good at criticiism, but no ideas on how to IMPROVE security procedures. I don’t like how things are done, but I have nothing to offer in the way of better methods. Come up with something and we’ll listen, instead of having to read the same old rant.

  • MarkieA

    I fear for the day that I have to have a Lawyer “on call”. More than the TSA, lawyers are ruining this country.

  • MarkieA

    And, unfortunately it’ll come down to my word against theirs. Just try and film them abusing your rights, then you’ll really get in it.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    bodega3, who carries ID to places like the beach, sports games or anywhere that’s very crowded, or it this an American thing ?
    In Australia, we’re only required to carry ID when flying on a commercial flight.
    We don’t have to carry any ID when driving a car.

  • EdB

    Most people carry at least their driver license with them if they are driving to the game and that is the only ID that would be needed. But you are right in that in the USA, we are not required to carry “papers”. In fact, some states you don’t even have to carry your drivers license when driving. That was the law when I lived in Idaho. You only had to know your license number. It’s been awhile since I lived there so that may have changed by now.

    An contrary to your view, pick pockets don’t abound in the USA any more than they do in other countries. I’m sure you will find just as many in any other country in large crowds.

  • EdB

    TSA agents don’t carry weapons as part of their job. They are not law enforcement either.

  • MarkieA

    But it’s not against the law not to….yet.

  • MarkieA

    I got stopped my the county police here in Maryland just the other day for a minor traffic infraction. I was asked for my driver’s license, which was in my gym bag in the trunk. The police officer said “not to worry” and asked me to verify address information that he had apparently pulled up from my license plate number. On the warning citation I got, he noted “failure to produce driver’s license upon request” – which I thought was rather crappy, plus he informed that I should keep my license “within reach” at all times while driving. Don’t know if this is the law, or just his “suggestion”.

  • y_p_w

    It’s a requirement in California.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d06/vc12951.htm

    “V C Section 12951 Possession of License

    Possession of License

    12951. (a) The licensee shall have the valid driver’s
    license issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway.

    Any charge under this subdivision shall be dismissed
    when the person charged produces in court a driver’s license duly issued to that person and valid at the time of his or her arrest, except that upon a third or subsequent charge the court in its discretion may dismiss the charge. When a temporary, interim, or duplicate driver’s license is produced in court, the charge shall not be dismissed unless the court has been furnished proof by the Department of Motor Vehicles that the temporary, interim, or duplicate license was issued prior to the arrest, that the driving privilege and license had not been suspended or revoked, and that the person was eligible for the temporary, interim, or duplicate license.

    (b) The driver of a motor vehicle shall present his or
    her license for examination upon demand of a peace officer enforcing the provisions of this code.”

  • y_p_w

    There is no requirement in the US that a US citizen must carry an ID or produce one upon request for normal activities other than driving in most states. If someone is arrested by law enforcement, they can detain someone or take them to a police station to ascertain their identity without ID.

    There is a requirement that those above a certain age need to produce acceptable ID to travel by air, and to produce said ID at checkpoints. The ostensible purpose is to verify that the person on the ticket is the person flying. If they can’t, then the they can possibly check databases for the identity of the traveler, but that doesn’t always result in a positive ID. Some people have been denied boarding.

    The only legal requirement I know of is that permanent residents of the US are required to carry their “green cards” (permanent residency cards) at all times. I know of quite a few who don’t. The federal fine is light with less than 30 days jail time, and I really doubt it’s a high enforcement priority. This became an issue when Arizona passed a law (struck down by the courts) that made the same violation a state crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $5000 fine. The other issue would be that it could be prosecuted by the state or counties if the feds weren’t keen on doing so.

  • y_p_w

    They have been known to summon the local law enforcement that has responsibility for a particular airport or other facility.

  • y_p_w

    I said the only legal requirement is for a permanent resident to carry the green card at all times. It’s almost never enforced.

    Sometimes I’ll step out of my house wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and no wallet.

  • y_p_w

    I always keep my wallet in my front pocket. If I’m worried about pickpockets, I’ll slap a large rubber band around it. It reduces the chance of a pickpocket using a light motion that’s less detectable. Someone would really have to yank hard to overcome the friction with the increased risk of detection.

  • EdB

    The question was, ” would TSA shoot them ?” The answer is no. The TSA does not have authority to use any force, let alone deadly.

  • EdB

    That’s great. But the example was for Maryland. If you are going to quote code, quote the one for Maryland.

  • Daisiemae

    These are two women who paid a huge price for not knowing and exercising their right to refuse a search without a warrant:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/roadside-body-cavity-search-texas-women-sue-state-troopers-for-humiliating-body-search_n_2333302.html

  • TSA has no law enforcement authority. If you refuse to submit to a TSA search or produce ID, the most they can do is call the police. Unless you do something stupid, like run away or make a bomb joke, they can’t do much, either. You can refuse a request for a search by a police officer, and unless they show probable cause to a judge and get a warrant, there’s not a darn thing they can do about it.

    So if you, as a tourist, refuse to cooperate with the TSA outside of an airport, nothing will happen to you, aside from wasting some time.

    Now, if you are at an airport checkpoint, that’s a different story. Unfortunately, American courts have essentially bought the TSA’s argument that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to airport security. Since the TSA is a vindictive bunch, the cops will be called, you’ll get thrown out of the airport, and likely arrested for interfering with security screening.

  • Daisiemae

    This code does not state that the license has to be in the interior of the car. There is nothing here that says you cannot carry your license in the trunk.

  • EdB

    A lot is going to depend on what “immediate possession” means I guess. In the example given for the incident in Maryland, we don’t know what their law is. But if it was something similar, I think the cop was in the wrong to put the failure to produce on it when the cop told him not to get it.

  • Extramail

    I personally don’t believe the tsa is keeping our airports safer; therefore, I’m not interested in their trying to make anything else safer. I also personally have a family member who was financially ruined trying to fight an illegal search so forgive me if I don’t trust “authority” and my right to deny an illegal search.

  • Been there, done that. No, you don’t want to listen.

  • rmc

    History repeating –“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”Ben Franklin

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I read that article the other day and wondered how the police were able to get away with that. I think the LEOs use the psychology that people are intimidated by them.

    I have to wonder, though, how much more of a problem it would cause for the average person to say, “No, not w/o probable cause or a warrant”. It’s my belief (opinion?) that by telling them no, they can use that as an excuse for probably cause?

  • y_p_w

    It was just an example of what I was familiar with.

    This is the closest thing I could find for Massachussetts. It’s a mess trying to read it. As far as I can tell, an out of state driver is required to carry that license, and the description is “has such license on his person or in the vehicle in some easily accessible place”. I couldn’t find anything that refers to those licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter90/Section10

    Oh – Maryland:

    http://www.mva.maryland.gov/resources/dl-002b.pdf

  • TonyA_says

    Bodega, as you know since you have travelled internationally, the biggest difference is the TSA uses nudeoscopes and does pat downs. Both are dehumanizing.
    During my recent domestic Japan flights, there is a sign in English – we allow food and drinks to be taken into the airplane. Wow, what a sign of great common sense.

  • bodega3

    You think you have, but you haven’t

  • bodega3

    That’s why I said should, not have to. There are good reasons to have your ID with you, especially if you are alone and should get hurt.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Actually, no government agent has a “RIGHT” to do anything. Citizens have rights. Governments do not.

  • bodega3

    Define government agent?

  • Cybrsk8r

    The TSA, the police, etc. Basically anyone acting as a representative of the government. They may have a limited authority to search you in specific situations. In an airport, entering a government building, etc. But they cannot simply decide to search you, your home, or your vehicle, for no reason.

    Never, ever give a cop permission to search anything. very often, on major interstate routes, cops routinely go on treasure hunts in cars they pull over. They act all friendly to get the driver to permit the search. Then, when the cop finds the $500 of vacation money, he declares it suspected drug money and seizes it. No warrant, no charges, not even an arrest. they basically take your money and send you on your way.

    There was a town in Texas that pretty much funded their whole police department with property seized in this manner. They even threatened parents with loss of their children if they didn’t surrender vehicles, money, etc. The mayor and most (if not all) of the police department all ended up in prison, where they belonged.

  • I make it a point never to carry ID unless I need it for some reason that benefits me. We should all refuse to do things that serve no purpose other than satisfying the authoritarian’s impulse to control us.

  • Refusing a search is explicitly disallowed as a finding of “probable cause” or “articulable suspicion”. There must be some other reason to justify a search.

  • Unfortunately, this goes on more than we will ever know. There was a case here in Baltimore just a few years ago where the cops did the same thing to a man in broad daylight on a city street. They also Tasered the guy. The Baltimore PD is going to have to pay big bucks in the lawsuit (rather, we the taxpayers are):

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/crime/blog/2011/02/cops_actions_could_cost_city_9.html

  • Cybrd8r, bravo! Exactly.

  • cjr001

    Bodega, Friend to the Police State.

  • Daisiemae

    Blogger Bob has posted a statement that TSA does not use drones. How about that?

    Right. And TSA does not separate children from their parents. And TSA does not require passengers to remove prosthetics. And TSA does not strip search elderly women. And TSA does not put its hands into passengers’ underwear. And TSA does not handle feeding tubes. And TSA does not require insulin pumps to go through the xray machine. And TSA does not require breast milk to be x-rayed. And TSA does not save nude images from the scanners. And TSA does not force passengers to be scanned.

    I’m so glad to find out that TSA does not use drones. After all, we have Blogger Bob’s word for it. That’s all we need to know.

  • Daisiemae

    The TSA does not carry guns. However, they can inform LEOs that you have a weapon or a bomb (they informed LEOs that a woman’s diabetic pump was a handgun and the police chased her through the airport) and that could potentially lead to a shooting incident with an over zealous LEO.

  • Markie, here’s another that might be helpful. I don’t know this guy, don’t know anything about him, just found this a succinct explanation of what to do and not to do, in line with others I’ve read but can’t find right now:

    http://www.anthracitelaw.com/maryland-criminal-defense/how-to-deal-with-the-police

    Edited to add: Here’s a great explanation by Wendy Thomson I had forgotten about. Spells it all out nice and clear, with abundant links:

    http://tsanewsblog.com/704/news/tsa-makes-its-first-reported-vipr-car-checkpoint/

  • How to improve security measures: stop doing worthless things like airport searches which absolutely will not ever have any security value (see: French WWII defensive strategy, Maginot line et al.) ; and start doing valuable things like intelligence, police work, and investigation to uncover plots before it’s too late to do anything about them. It’s only your sad lack of imagination that makes you think there could be some improved method of warrantless searches of innocent people that might be valuable. It always was and it always will be worthless to try to find that one needle in a haystack consisting of literally billions of non-terrorist travelers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a wand or nudeoscope or baggage X-ray – you’re looking in the wrong place.

  • bodega3

    Friend of the police…yes.

    BTW, all I did was state that cars are checked at Proms. I am not a part of this, but students know that if they attend, this will take place. Just like at the airport. If you don’t like it, don’t f. Don’t want to worry about a DUI check point, don’t drink and drive. You do have options. Fairly easy to understand.

  • bodega3

    Worthless is your view. Adjustments might be in order but as they keep finding guns in carry ons, worthless isn’t a word many would agree with you on.

  • Daddydo

    Sarcasm or hopelessness….either works. We elect the officials and we keep the officials in that have this massive boondoggle. The government allows idiots to secure us.

  • They also keep missing loaded guns in carryons, along with oodles of knives that have always and will always make it on to the plane. Most of the tests we know about show that somewhere north of 70% of guns, knives, and bombs brought by testers make it though the checkpoint. And yet, with all those weapons…. there’s never been a single instance of a stabbing on an airplane. Funny – maybe weapons aren’t the problem, but terrorists are the problem.

  • bodega3

    You still haven’t presented any solution.

  • Daisiemae

    Exactly why I said they may “say” they have the right to search you. TSA employees are prolific liars.

  • Daisiemae

    I have a suggestion. If everyone would simply stop replying to bodega and stop giving him/her the attention he/she is craving, he/she would seek it elsewhere.

  • bodega3

    Interesting that you can’t take comments from someone who doesn’t fully agree with you. Very mature.

  • Here is my solution: start doing valuable things like intelligence, police work, and
    investigation to uncover plots before it’s too late to do anything about
    them. Stop searching people whom you have no reason to suspect of wrongdoing. I’ve stated my solution over and over.

  • Tim Anderson

    When I read the above article the first thought that came to my mind is “Help, help! The paranoids are after me!” TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration, not Airport Security Administration. The Feds have done quite enough to harden our airports. It’s high time they started paying attention to the most likely places that the next terrorist event will occur, and it won’t be at an airport. It will be where a lot of people come together at a specified time, some of them by LRT, a mode of transportation. I agree that TSA shouldn’t be stretching there dominion to NFL football games or other public venues usually covered by other law enforcement agencies unless, of course, they are asked in to help, but I do think the VIPR teams have a purpose and there is a lot of infrastructure going unprotected. It’s a tough job but, I guess, somebody has to complain about it.

  • Mundane Lustrator

    Thanks for the info! :-)

  • Mundane Lustrator

    I disagree with you, but understand your point. Thanks. :-)

  • Mundane Lustrator

    Maybe they were on break?

  • Mundane Lustrator

    What credible proof do you have that all local and regional public transit is in danger from TERRORISTS? What about the highway stops VIPR did in Tennessee?

    Why do you think a federal agency should be in charge of securing a city or state tranportation mode? Isn’t that why we have city, county, and state law enforcement?

  • y_p_w

    The way the National Park Service handles incidents, prosecutions, and trials is interesting. There are a mix of different ways they handle it depending on who has jurisdiction over a particular piece of land; the feds don’t always have sole jurisdiction.

    When the feds do have sole jurisdiction, they can and do enforce state laws themselves. They’ll take it to a federal courthouse and trials and hearings occur before a federal magistrate.

    The US Park Police is interesting. They serve as detectives for investigations on NPS land, among other things. I think most people have never heard of them.

    As for NPS rangers, you’ll see a difference between the law enforcement personnel and the interpretive and scientific personnel. The interpretive rangers wear a small dull badge that looks like a shield. The law enforcement rangers wear a shiny golden large badge with an eagle on the top and a badge number on the bottom. They also carry guns. I’ve encountered quite a few where people treated them like tour guides even though they were pretty much just the local police. I remember talking to one after taking a picture for a group, and noting that they didn’t seem to understand that he was law enforcement. He said it came with wearing the hat (they can wear the same “campaign hat”).

  • Kim

    America’s Runaway Police State – http://imgur.com/xpmP0