by Doug Book
Since its inception in 2002, the Department of Homeland Security has grown increasingly contemptuous of the rights of the American people. Indeed, the Gestapo-like tactics of one of the Department’s better known masters of overreach–the TSA–are responsible for countless examples of the organization’s daily assault on the Constitution.
But recently, another of Janet Napolitano’s handmaidens of harassment has begun to make news…albeit only on the web, of course. It is the TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response task force (VIPR). Organized into mobile swat teams, VIPR has executed some 8,000 highly public searches in the past 12 months.
And what meaningful operations they have been.
- In a Georgia Amtrak station, VIPR personnel “patted down” all travelers –children and adults — both entering and leaving the station;
- In Santa Fe, New Mexico, teams of VIPR agents were assigned to conduct searches at a high school prom;
- In Texas, agents thoroughly “searched all private and commercial vehicles entering and exiting” the port of Brownsville. Each and every vehicle was searched, even though the task force was not responding to any known or reported threat;
- In April, VIPR staged a raid at a Tampa bus station. Once again, the teams were not responding to any particular threat. Rather, Homeland Security official Gary Milano said the purpose of the exercise was to “invent the wheel in advance, in case we have to, if there is ever specific intelligence requiring us to be here”; and
- Two months later, VIPR targeted 5,000 square miles bordering West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Four hundred agents representing 70 federal agencies appeared in Black Hawk helicopters, small planes, and Coast Guard craft. Once again, this was a “training exercise.” As usual, no threat had been suspected or reported. TSA official Michael Cleveland stated, “[T]he purpose of the exercise was to have a visible presence and let people know we’re out here. It can be a deterrent.”
Exactly who is being deterred, intimidated, and threatened by these unnecessary shows of force? Certainly not terrorists.
“Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government…Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart,” said Justice Robert Jackson, the chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.
The American people are being systematically subjected to, and desensitized to, warrantless searches and the most egregious and unnecessary forms of personal humiliation by an organization whose raison d’etre is inscribed at the TSA Air Marshal Training Center: dominate, intimidate, control.
The more often this is done, the more “reasonable” it will seem. Routine? Acceptable? Just like 10 percent unemployment, government harassment will become “the new normal.”
After all, it is for our own good.
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This article originally appeared on CoachIsRight.com and is reprinted with permission.