Monday, August 12, 2013

We're Letting Our Country And Constitution Go Down The Drain...

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter  - Winston Churchill...In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act  - George Orwell...The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures  - Adolph Hitler
I'm guessing that most of you did not see this article from the NY Times last week about latest move toward implementing a Totalitarian police state via the TSA.  This is CLEARLY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, well beyond the TSA mandate.  I am presenting the entire article here without comment, because if this needs any commentary, our country is doomed (P.S.  How do you all you intransigent Obama supporters feel about the man now?) :

T.S.A. Expands Duties Beyond Airport Security

By RON NIXON   Article Link

WASHINGTON — As hundreds of commuters emerged from Amtrak and commuter trains at Union Station on a recent morning, an armed squad of men and women dressed in bulletproof vests made their way through the crowds.

The squad was not with the Washington police department or Amtrak’s police force, but was one of the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squads — VIPR teams for short — assigned to perform random security sweeps to prevent terrorist attacks at transportation hubs across the United States.

“The T.S.A., huh,” said Donald Neubauer of Greenville, Ohio, as he walked past the squad. “I thought they were just at the airports.”

With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals. Not everyone is happy.

T.S.A. and local law enforcement officials say the teams are a critical component of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts, but some members of Congress, auditors at the Department of Homeland Security and civil liberties groups are sounding alarms. The teams are also raising hackles among passengers who call them unnecessary and intrusive.

“Our mandate is to provide security and counterterrorism operations for all high-risk transportation targets, not just airports and aviation,” said John S. Pistole, the administrator of the agency. “The VIPR teams are a big part of that.”

Some in Congress, however, say the T.S.A. has not demonstrated that the teams are effective. Auditors at the Department of Homeland Security are asking questions about whether the teams are properly trained and deployed based on actual security threats.

Civil liberties groups say that the VIPR teams have little to do with the agency’s original mission to provide security screenings at airports and that in some cases their actions amount to warrantless searches in violation of constitutional protections.

“The problem with T.S.A. stopping and searching people in public places outside the airport is that there are no real legal standards, or probable cause,” said Khaliah Barnes, administrative law counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “It’s something that is easily abused because the reason that they are conducting the stops is shrouded in secrecy.”

T.S.A. officials respond that the random searches are “special needs” or “administrative searches” that are exempt from probable cause because they further the government’s need to prevent terrorist attacks.

Created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the T.S.A. has grown to an agency of 56,000 people at 450 American airports. The VIPR teams were started in 2005, in part as a reaction to the Madrid train bombing in 2004 that killed 191 people.

The program now has a $100 million annual budget and is growing rapidly, increasing to several hundred people and 37 teams last year, up from 10 teams in 2008. T.S.A. records show that the teams ran more than 8,800 unannounced checkpoints and search operations with local law enforcement outside of airports last year, including those at the Indianapolis 500 and the Democratic and Republican national political conventions.

The teams, which are typically composed of federal air marshals, explosives experts and baggage inspectors, move through crowds with bomb-sniffing dogs, randomly stop passengers and ask security questions. There is usually a specially trained undercover plainclothes member who monitors crowds for suspicious behavior, said Kimberly F. Thompson, a T.S.A. spokeswoman. Some team members are former members of the military and police forces.

T.S.A. officials would not say if the VIPR teams had ever foiled a terrorist plot or thwarted any major threat to public safety, saying the information is classified. But they argue that the random searches and presence of armed officers serve as a deterrent that bolsters the public confidence.
Security experts give the agency high marks for creating the VIPR teams. “They introduce an unexpected element into situations where a terrorist might be planning an attack,” said Rafi Ron, the former chief of security for Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel, who is now a transportation security consultant.

Local law enforcement officials also welcome the teams.

“We’ve found a lot of value in having these high-visibility security details,” said John Siqveland, a spokesman for Metro Transit, which operates buses and trains Minneapolis-St. Paul. He said that local transit police have worked with VIPR teams on security patrols on the Metro rail line, which serves the Minnesota Vikings stadium, the Mall of America and the airport.

Kimberly Woods, a spokeswoman for Amtrak, said the railroad has had good experiences with VIPR team members who work with the Amtrak police on random bag inspections during high-travel times. “They supplement our security measures,” she said.

But elsewhere, experiences with the teams have not been as positive.

In 2011, the VIPR teams were criticized for screening and patting down people after they got off an Amtrak train in Savannah, Ga. As a result, the Amtrak police chief briefly banned the teams from the railroad’s property, saying the searches were illegal.

In April 2012, during a joint operation with the Houston police and the local transit police, people boarding and leaving city buses complained that T.S.A. officers were stopping them and searching their bags. (Local law enforcement denied that the bags were searched.)
The operation resulted in several arrests by the local transit police, mostly for passengers with warrants for prostitution and minor drug possession. Afterward, dozens of angry residents packed a public meeting with Houston transit officials to object to what they saw as an unnecessary intrusion by the T.S.A.

“It was an incredible waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Robert Fickman, a local defense lawyer who attended the meeting. “Did we need to have T.S.A. in here for a couple of minor busts?”
Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, which has oversight of the T.S.A., said he generally supports the VIPR teams but remains concerned about the warrantless searches and the use of behavior detection officers to profile individuals in crowds.

“This is a gray area,” he said. “I haven’t seen any good science that says that is what a terrorist looks like. Profiling can easily be abused.”

Mr. Thompson said he also had questions about the effectiveness of the program because of issues like those raised in Houston and Savannah.

“It’s hard to quantify the usefulness of these teams based on what we have seen so far,” he said.
An August 2012 report by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security raised similar questions.

Some T.S.A. officials told auditors that they had concerns that deploying VIPR teams to train stations or other events was not always based on credible intelligence.

The auditors also said that VIPR teams might not have “the skills and information to perform successfully in the mass transit environment.”

Mr. Pistole said the agency is now retraining VIPR teams based on recommendations in the report and is working to increase the public’s knowledge about them.


  1. Viper teams are complete BS. Almost more so than the TSA itself.

  2. Welcome to the U.S.S.A. Soviet forward comrades.

  3. NEWS ALERT...the VIPR TEAMS are the terrorist......when will the public realize this....The Patriot Act is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and ALL government police forces that use this act as an excuse to stop and search are outside the LAW..therefore they are TERRORIST....and the local police have lost all their credibility with the public because they use the tactics of the military to arrest non criminal citizens....there will be a day of reckoning coming to your city...and many will not be pleased.....Semper Fi

  4. If they are so good and needed to thwart "dangers", why are they not deployed to the border?

  5. Test the program :
    Very little push back from the people ?
    Test a success .
    Move on to the next rights restrictive plan .
    Take away , no resistance ? Take away some more .
    Enslavement psychology at its best.
    Same program that sociopathic serial killers use .

  6. michael schumacherTuesday, 13 August, 2013

    this goes a long way in understanding why the TSA bought an ass-ton of ammunition...wasn't it something like 46 million rounds??? BTW that is a rhetorical question

  7. How do we stop this crap...and the President exempting Congress, Unions and big business exempting them out of OBAMA CARE?

  8. derivative price control grid---

    Max talks to Rob Kirby of about Mark Carney and his merry band of bankers as the Lone Ranger box office disaster, they've all made their fees while the shareholders and stakeholders eat the losses. Kirby also predicts lower rates due to central bank intervention via Interest Rate Swaps and Forward Rate Agreements.

    1. Yes I watched the Rob Kirby interview. Looks like these boy's can keep this game going for quite a while. So keep playing the market and take the cash and buy P.M.s. Until then enjoy life and don't worry. Remember no one gets out alive.

  9. Former Internet Provider Gagged by National Security Letter Recounts How He Was Silenced for 6 Years
    We continue our discussion of government surveillance and Internet privacy with someone who was under an FBI gag order for six years. In early 2004, Nicholas Merrill, who was running an Internet service provider in New York called Calyx, was issued a national security letter that ordered him to hand over detailed private records about some of his customers. Under the law, recipients of the letters are barred from telling anyone about their encounter with the FBI. While Merrill was not the first American to be gagged after receiving a national security letter, he was the first to challenge the FBI’s secret tactics. Merrill went to the American Civil Liberties Union, which then filed the first lawsuit challenging the national security letter statute. In the lawsuit, Merrill was simply identified as John Doe. It was only in August 2010, after reaching a settlement with the FBI, that Merrill was able to reveal his identity. "[The case] resulted in the national security letter provision of the PATRIOT Act being ruled unconstitutional twice," Merrill says. "The problem was, though, we were never able to get to the Supreme Court to get a final, binding ruling that would affect the whole country. ... The concern about cybersecurity and the concerns about privacy are really two sides of the same coin. There are a lot of really uncontroversial examples in which organizations and people need confidentiality: Medicine is one, journalism is another, human rights organizations is an obvious third. We’re trying to make the case that if the right of Americans to encrypt their data and to have private information is taken away, that it’s going to have grave, far-reaching effects on many kinds of industries, on our democracy as a whole, and our standing in the world."

  10. Forget Student Loans…Introducing Day Care Loans

    Now that enough college age Americans have been stuffed with over a trillion dollars in student loans only to get a job a McDonalds and live with their parents, folks in New York City have come up with a brilliant new concept to ensure the production of an entirely new generation of debt slaves. Introducing day care loans…and here’s the best part, they are “interest only” from childcare to kindergarden!

    Of course it makes sense that these loans would originate in my hometown of NYC, which has in the past 15-20 years fully transformed itself into a corporatized, generic and unaffordable Wall Street whorehouse. From CBS:

    NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After housing, child care is one of the largest expenses for families in New York City.

    But now, there is an option for parents to get their kids into some of the city’s top pre-kindergarten programs with loans just for day care.

    As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported Monday, tuition without room and board for undergrads at Harvard University is $38,891 for the 2013-2014 school year. For Princeton University, it is $40,170.

    Pre-school in Manhattan is not far behind, with some elite day care costing families more than $35,000.

  11. The Beauty of Obama’s Clapper Appointment

    “This isn’t just a middle finger to everyone to everyone who is against blanket surveillance (aka. the majority of Americans), it is Obama saying “Kiss My Ass.””

  12. US Treasury Finally Admits The Truth: It's All POMO (And "No One Dares Fight The Fed")

    So, thanks to the US Treasury, we know that between January 2009 and April 2013, on days in which the Fed POMO was more than $5 billion, the stock market rose a total of 570 points or 54% of the upmove, on days in which the POMO was between $0 and $5 billion, the stock market gain was "only" 141 points or 15% of the upside, and when there was no POMO, the S&P gained... -51 points.

    And like that, another conspiracy theory bites the dust. Are any left? Oh yes, Gold isn't manipulated because alleging "gold manipulation" is unfit for polite, dignified society and is best left to the realms of the conspiracy theorists.