TSA expands body scanner searches to NYC, LA train stations
Visitors to New York’s Penn Station will now be subjected to random searches via body scanners courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration and Amtrak Police.
Train and bus riders in New York City and Los Angeles have recently been subjected to random virtual searches from new body scanner technology being rolled out by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. The body scanners use “passive millimeter wave” technology that detects heat coming of an individual body and supposedly can help detect when an individual has something strapped to their body. The technology currently in use is part of a system called Stand Off Explosive Detection Technology developed by QinetiQ, and Digital Barriers from Thruvis.
CNBC reports that the TSA and Amtrak began testing the equipment at New York City’s Penn Station. “An alarm would go off on the equipment operator’s laptop, triggered by an individual’s ‘naturally occurring emissions from the human body,'” CNBC writes. CNBC also reports that TSA Administrator David Pekoske stated in November 2017 that the agency would not introduce “airport-like security” at other public transportation stations.
New Yorkers were not the only population facing invasions of privacy. Metro riders at the Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles recently faced the same body scanning technology. KTLA reports:
The portable passenger screening system was being tested as part of a partnership between L.A. County’s Metro and the federal Transportation Security Administration. Metro previously tested two other systems in August and December of last year as part of a pilot program to evaluate security technology.
The American Civil Liberties Union is among the critics of the TSA’s expansion of invasive technology. The ACLU says it is not yet clear whether the use of the technology is even constitutional since the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to perform search of an individual. An exception was previously made for airports, but it is not yet clear if that will hold for the general public space. The ACLU also says that government is not being transparent about the technology and “how they will be used, on whom, and where they will eventually be deployed. We also don’t know who will have access to the information they collect or for how long.”
The ACLU also draws attention to the fact that we do not know whether individuals will be allowed to opt-out of being searched. It seems obvious that the government is not spending taxpayer money on the devices just to allow the public to opt-out. The ACLU wonders what will happen when an alert is triggered; will this allow the TSA to detain someone or search them further? The ACLU expands upon this concern:
Once an anomaly is detected, a computer algorithm determines whether the abnormality presents a “green,” “yellow” or “red” risk level. We don’t know what happens if someone provokes a “yellow” or a “red” alert or if even some “green” alerts will still cause further scrutiny. Does a security official make a judgment call on whether to interrogate or otherwise hassle that person?
These latest expansions of the TSA from airports to trains follow a disturbing report from 2017 detailing how the TSA tested new measures that require passengers to remove books and paper goods from their carry-on luggage. According to reports from The Wall Street Journal and Sacramento Bee, the TSA had already begun to roll out these new invasive policies.
“While I expect going through airline security to be time-consuming and mildly annoying, my attitude changed recently as I prepared to board a flight out of Sacramento International Airport in the days after Memorial Day weekend,” the Sacramento Bee wrote. “As I stood in line, Transportation Security Administration officials announced at SMF that everyone was to take books, magazines and food out of their bags and put them into a separate bin for inspection. That was it. A line was crossed for me.”
When the body scanners and TSA searches began in the years following the 9/11 attacks, civil liberties advocates warned that the measures would eventually expand beyond the airport to all public areas. Anyone who warned of this possibility was called a conspiracy theorist or fear monger. Now, we see the TSA at the Super Bowl and other high-profile events, bus stations, train stations, and soon they will be installed on every street corner.
Only when the notion of privacy has been erased and smothered under the weight of America’s impending collapse will the submissive populace feel secure. Only once all liberty has been lost will the tyrants finally stop expanding their operations.