TSA Seeks Permission to Conduct “Security Assessments” on Highways
Greasing the skids for airport-style pat downs on the interstate
Paul Joseph Watson
December 4, 2012
The TSA is seeking permission from the Office of Management and Budget to conduct “security assessments” on highways as well as at 140 other public transportation hubs, including bus depots and train stations.
The request was buried amidst a deluge of jargon and published in the Federal Register on November 30.
If approved, it would allow the TSA to to “conduct transportation security-related assessments during site visits with security and operating officials of surface transportation entities.”
“Similarly, TSA wants to conduct on-site assessments with public agencies that run buses, rail transit, long-distance rail and less common types of service, such as cable cars, inclined planes, funiculars and automated guide way systems,” reports Government Security News.
On the face of it, the “security assessments” involve TSA officials telling transportation organizations what security measures they should adopt as part of the Highway Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) Program. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what measures the TSA is likely to recommend – more “security assessments” that require more TSA agents and more funding for the federal agency.
“TSA’s Highway BASE program seeks to establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation by posing questions to major transportation asset owners and operators. 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,” states the federal filing.
In other words, get ready for TSA agents to be groping Grandma on the interstate.
Critics of the TSA will undoubtedly see this as another example of the federal agency extending its tentacles into forms of transportation other than airports and greasing the skids for airport-style security at highway checkpoints. Such measures have already been put in place at numerous train and bus stations across the country.
The TSA has already conducted checkpoint-style programs on highways before, notably in Tennessee last yearwhere Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams checked trucks at at five weigh stations and two bus stations in the state, as well as making trucks pass through x-ray scanners. TSA officials also used the checkpoint to try and recruit truck drivers to become citizen snitches under the First Observer Highway Security Program.
Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons justified the highway checkpoints by stating, “Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate.”
After the presence of TSA screeners on the highway made the news, the TSA responded by claiming concerns were overblown, and that TSA workers were only, “supporting state and local personnel as they inspected vehicles to identify potential security threats.”
Now it seems the TSA is looking to run its own “security-related assessments” on highways without the involvement of law enforcement.
Last year, the TSA was responsible for over 9,000 checkpoints across the United States, a number set to increase thanks to the agency’s bloated budget and its expansion beyond anything vaguely related to transportation. Since its inception in the US after 9/11, the TSA has grown in size exponentially. The agency was slammed in a recent congressional report for wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on security theater.
As Infowars has repeatedly stressed, any attempt to protest against the practices of the TSA by simply refusing to fly is largely pointless given the fact that the federal agency is expanding to cover virtually all forms of transport, as well as events that have nothing to do with transportation such as political functions, music concerts, and even high school prom nights.
TSA Is “Creating And Maintaining A Watch List” of Americans who “violate” its policies
Agency keeping tabs on travelers “disqualified from eligibility” for bogus Pre check program
Dec 4, 2012
The TSA has quietly announced that it is constructing a watch list of individuals that it deems to be violators of it’s security rules.
The agency, under the Department of Homeland Security, notes:
“As part of the effort to identify individuals that are low risk, TSA also is creating and maintaining a watch list of individuals who are disqualified from eligibility from TSA Pre[check]TM, for some period of time or permanently, because they have been involved in violations of security regulations of sufficient severity or frequency.”
The announcement came in the November 19 edition of The Federal Register, a daily journal issued by the federal government.
The PreCheck program, introduced earlier this year, encourages frequent fliers to allow TSA access to a host of details and personal information, the idea being that if you qualify, you are spared some of the security theater hell that the rest of the cattle are forced to endure when passing through airport checkpoints.
The announcement continues:
“Disqualifying violations of aviation security regulations may involve violations at the airport or on board aircraft, such as a loaded firearm that is discovered in carry-on baggage at the checkpoint, or a threat to use a destructive device against a transportation conveyance, facilities, or personnel. The TSA Pre[check]TM Disqualification List will be generated by TSA’s Performance and Results Information System (PARIS).”
The ultimate irony behind this revelation is the fact that some attempting to sign up to avoid TSA interrogation every time they fly, could ultimately end up on a government watch list and be subjected to even more nightmare police state treatment than if they had not bothered in the first place.
Indeed, it seems that TSA’s PreCheck is nothing more than a smokescreen to get people to officially submit to the security theater checkpoints. The agency admits that those signed up to PreCheck will still be “randomly” subjected to the same treatment as everyone else. Accounts from dissatisfied PreCheck “clients” have already confirmed that there is no such thing as “hassle-free” boarding.
The recent revelation that anyone can print out a boarding-pass and alter one number on it to make it appear they are enrolled in PreCheck goes to show that the program is just another layer of security theater. In addition, there have been accounts of travelers being mistakenly waved through the PreCheck lines, even though they have NEVER registered for the program.
PreCheck is intrinsically flawed and threatens to make flying LESS safe. However, it does enable the government to compile yet another watch list of Americans who are disgruntled with the police state crackdown at airports.
Given that it was recently discovered that some TSA procedures, including complaints, are operated and processed in all manner of different ways and at the whim of each individual TSA agent, it is no stretch of the imagination to expect that anyone merely opting out of the body scanners, complaining about pat-downs, or filming at checkpoints could be considered to be in “violation”, and therefore added to this latest watch list.
The ACLU has previously contended that huge numbers of Americans are opposed to the measures employed by the DHS and the TSA in the nations airports and train stations, but that many have not registered official complaints for fear of being placed on a watch list.
Remember that the government already operates two “watch lists” that we know of with regards to air travel. Also remember that the secret government “no fly list” of suspected “terrorists” who are banned from flying to or within the United States more than doubled in 2011. The figures, earlier this year, highlighted the fact that the list now contains around 21,000 names, close to 11,000 more than it did just one year previously.
The government has refused to reveal details of who is on the list and the reason they have been flagged.
In lawsuit against the government, the ACLU is representing American citizens who believe they have been put on the no fly list without explanation. Currently, those who submit a letter to Homeland Security asking to be removed from the list have no way of knowing if their request has been reviewed without attempting to board another flight, according to the ACLU.
This no-fly list, as well as the airlines’ CAPS II system, pales in comparison to the separate government master “terrorist watch list” that reportedly now has over one million names on it.
Reports have confirmed that the watch list contains the names of thousands of innocent Americans, including babies, children, lawyers and even a retired Air National Guard brigadier, now a commercial pilot for a major airline.
In some cases credit reports have been used in calculating the risk score, while the list has also been used to target political activists opposing the death penalty and the Iraq war. Some, including former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel have suggested restricting the constitutional rights of those placed on the list. There have also been calls to apply the watch list to Amtrak trains as well as checkpoints at subways, malls and sports stadiums.
The chairman of a House technology oversight subcommittee warned in 2008 that the database used to produce the government’s terror watch lists is “crippled by technical flaws,” and the system that was due to, and now has, replaced it may be even worse.
In a letter to the inspector general at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) warned that the upgrade “if actually deployed will leave our country more vulnerable than the existing yet flawed system in operation today.”
We have previously highlighted the fact that a miniscule amount, less than 0.01% of Homeland Security cases are terrorism related.
Once again we are reminded that the terrorist threat to America is vastly over hyped and is being used by a criminally controlled government as an excuse to foment a domestic police state to crush any dissent amongst the American people.
Such watch lists represent a subversion of the first and fourth amendments, are inherently flawed and are MORE harmful to the security of the nation.
TSA Claims It Is Above Congressional Oversight
Agency head refuses to appear at transportation hearing
Nov 28, 2012
The TSA has refused to attend a House Transportation hearing this week, with agency head John Pistole personally refusing to appear and declaring that the Congressional Committee has “no jurisdiction over the TSA”.
The hearing, schedule for Thursday, will be held by the Subcommittee on Aviation, a part of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (TIC). It is titled HOW BEST TO IMPROVE OUR NATION’S AIRPORT PASSENGER SECURITY SYSTEM THROUGH COMMON SENSE SOLUTIONS.
Headed by Rep. Thomas Petri, it will “examine the impact that the regulations and policies of the Transportation Security Administration have on aviation passenger experience and the free flow of aviation commerce,” according to a brief on the subcommittee’s website (PDF).
The TIC’s website indicates that TSA head John Pistole has been asked to testify at the hearing. However, a statement issued on the TSA’s website made it clear that neither Pistole, nor any TSA official intends to attend the hearing.
The statement reads:
By U.S. House of Representatives rules which state that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has no jurisdiction over the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), no representative from TSA will be present at the Subcommittee on Aviation hearing scheduled for Nov. 29.
TSA will continue to work with its committees of jurisdiction to pursue effective and efficient security solutions. In the 112th Congress alone, TSA witnesses have testified at 38 hearings and provided 425 briefings for Members of Congress.
TSA also continues to work to enhance security screening measures and to improve the passenger experience including through the expansion of TSA Pre?™. As part of its risk-based security initiatives, TSA has modified screening procedures for passengers 12 and under and 75 and older while pursuing a multi-layered approach to security that includes behavior detection officers, explosives-detection systems and federal air marshals, among other measures both seen and unseen.
House Republicans on the TIC have made it clear that they believe the TSA is in dire need of reform. A section on the Committee’s website describes the TSA as “a massive, inflexible, backward-looking bureaucracy of more than 65,000.”
“TSA is a top-heavy agency in need of reform,” the site also states.
The TIC is currently headed by Rep. John Mica, a consistent critic of the TSA, who has pushed for airports to ditch the agency and replace it with private security screeners. Mica, who wrote the legislation that established the TSA, recently declared the agency to be a miserable failure.
In the next Congress, Mica will make way for Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster. When asked by reporters for a reaction on the TSA’s refusal to testify at Thursday’s hearing, and the agency’s declaration that it is not beholden to the Committee, Shuster said “I don’t think we have direct jurisdiction but when they impede commerce, when they impede the traveling public, they need to answer to the committee.”
Speaking to Bloomberg News, Shuster said he “absolutely” expects TSA officials to appear at transportation committee hearings. Asked what will happen if they refuse to testify, Shuster said: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
With public backlash against the TSA at an all time high, and given the scrutiny that the TSA has faced at the hands of the TIC and its subcommittees, it is somewhat unsurprising that agency head Pistole is no longer willing to face the music as it were.