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Commentary :: DNC : Human Rights
Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
12 Jul 2004
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A permanent policy of random searches of baggage on the T not based on probable cause or any suspicion at all is inconsistent with the general spirit of liberty, violate the Fourth Amendment privileges of T passengers, and serves only the selfish interest of expanding police power at the expense of Bostonians.
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This is an argument against the MBTA's new security inspection policy. Please take the time to visit the MBTA site at http://www.mbta.com/Security_T_Rider_rev.pdf and make up your own mind.

Key concepts: MBTA Security Screening Policy, 4th Amendment, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 12, Racial Profiling, Random Inspections, Probable Cause, 9/11, Warrants, Unreasonable Searches & Seizure, March 11 Madrid Train Bombings, Spirit of Liberty One Liner: A permanent policy of random searches of baggage on the T not based on probable cause or any suspicion at all is inconsistent with the general spirit of liberty, violate the Fourth Amendment privileges of T passengers, and serves only the selfish interest of expanding police power at the expense of Bostonians.

With respect to the MBTA's “security inspection” policy of random searches of all carry-on items, a few observations:

“If you have nothing to hide, it shouldn't be a problem,” says a satisfied T passenger, according to the local newspaper reports.

Gee -- it all seems so clear and easy, when you put it like that. But is that really the only value at stake?

I may have nothing to hide, but am I required to prove it to officers of the MBTA Police Department? Says who? Maybe they've got something to hide.

Of course, we could just have done with the Fourth Amendment and impose martial law: ID checkpoints at every intersection, routine inspections of every house, and random, arbitrary detentions and searches of all persons in public -- along with their bags, backpacks, briefcases, papers, and effects.

Why not? That will certainly increase security. And after all, “If you have nothing to hide, it shouldn't be a problem.” Never mind the potential for harassment, humiliation, inconvenience, and lost privacy at the hands of the inspectors.

Probable Cause Free!

At least one of the reasons for the U.S. Bill of Rights and limited government is a quite natural and healthy suspicion of the motives and character of those in power. Personally I've had few dealings with the MBTA police, but in those few encounters I've found them to be generally arrogant and rude – They've never given me any reason to want to see them empowered with more authority over anyone than the current state of the law, or to believe that they could handle the enforcement of a baggage inspection policy in a fair, intelligent, or evenhanded way.

The T is a national treasure and century old public institution, belonging entirely to the People of the Commonwealth. While it's administration has been temporarily turned over to public servants like MBTA spokesman Joseph Pesaturo, it belongs to us.

``No one is obligated to undergo the inspection of their bags,'' says spokesman Pesaturo, because we have the option of staying home. But of course we don't really have that option, because we have to get to our jobs, so we can pay the taxes which pay Mr. Pesaturo's far too generous salary.

One would suppose that concerns regarding the T's policy would naturally be addressed to those members of the state House of Representatives responsible for approving it; as with most contemporary public outrages and post 9/11 bureaucratic power grabs, an actual, elected politician answerable to voters is nowhere to be found within 100 miles of it. Instead it seems to have been “suggested” to the MBTA by “Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies,” according to the admission on the MBTA's own website.

Busy busy busy, those feds. They had zero success detecting or stopping the one group proven to have been plotting a large scale terrorist attack in the U.S., but that's no reason for objecting when, apropo of nothing in particular, they effect drastic changes in delicate state balances of civil liberties and security by co-opting local police for the purpose of large-scale infringement upon one of the most essential rights of the people – “to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable searches and seizures . . .” (U.S. Const. Amend. IV); U.N. Univ. Decl. of Human Rights Art. 12 (“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence . . .”).

Remember foremost that the cost of the T's search policy will be borne entirely by the passengers. The following is, again, from the MBTA website's Security Screening Policy statement:

“From now on: All MBTA customers will be subject to security inspections of any carry-on item. Your commute may be briefly delayed. Please allow a little extra time for a potential security inspection of your handbags, briefcases and/or other carry-on items and for other security measures. Your patience is appreciated. To maintain the safety of our passengers, we ask you to support our efforts by bringing fewer items aboard MBTA buses, subway and commuter rail trains.”

You heard right -- this policy isn't a temporary measure just for the DNC or the duration of the War on Terrorism, whenever that is -- it's “From now on,” meaning, one guesses, forever.

It's especially impressive to me that they “appreciate” our patience while they waste our time, rifle our bags, and render the public transportation system virtually useless by making it nearly impossible to bring anything with you on it. Though one has to wonder how sincere the patience displayed (or not) on our part will be.

What if a selected T passenger has unpaid parking tickets, or a warrant for failing to appear at traffic court? The T provides public transportation, after all. Will it be the MBTA's policy to arrest such passengers, caught only by unlucky selection for random search, and hold them on the warrant?

What about, say, a father with child support in arrears and warrants for his arrest from a California family court, who gets swept up in the T's random security inspections? Will the MBTA cops arrest him and ship him back to California in shackles?

And what of the concerns of minority riders, rightly suspicious of racial profiling by the authorities? Will it be easy to persuade a young black or Arab-American man that his baggage was selected for inspection entirely at random?

It's said we can leave the station rather than consent to a search, but what if the MBTA inspectors randomly select a rider and demand that he open his pack while the train is moving? Will the inspectors allow refusal of consent until the train stops at the next station? The MBTA policy should spell this out up front, because everyone knows cops always play little tricks like this to thwart restrictions on their authority.

Personally I have been quite scrupulous in avoiding airports since 9/11, because I don't enjoy the petty humiliations and fake bonhomie of the TSA screeners as they verify, for the at last count seventh time, that my shoes do not in fact contain any contraband and that the reason the metal detector beeped is because of my belt buckle, or my cell phone, and not because I'm packing box cutters or a gun. The T's policy, however, seems like a promising first step in bringing airport security to everywhere else. What progress.

We just can't give the government and police this much power over us; when the police have the power to arbitrarily detain and search whoever they want, it's gone too far, and that's the end of civil liberty.

The supposed justification for this trampling on civil liberties is preventing an attack akin to the March 11 railway bombings in Madrid, and general terrorism concerns due to 9/11 and the war. But the most obvious objection to this, for anyone who knows the T, is that hassling passengers at random won't at all hinder a terrorist bent on wrecking havoc. All over Boston there are literally thousands of entrances into T stations and into street cars that enter the stations. Certainly the MBTA police don't mean to set up checkpoints at every door?

In any case the absurdity of the policy is entirely beside the point. What's really going on here is a shamelessly opportunistic power grab by police bureaucrats both local and federal, exploiting natural fears about terrorism to get even more in our faces (“Open that bag sir, yep, just doing my job, &c.”) and to quell a spirit of liberty, which, however it may have been eroded over two centuries since the Revolution, still flourishes in Boston, the cradle of liberty.

This work is in the public domain.
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Never "cooperate" with your own demise
12 Jul 2004
"If you have nothing to hide, it shouldn't be a problem"

What absolute crap!! I have heard that far too many times.

People involved with the legal system Judges, Lawyers, Cops, DA's. If asked to be searched or interviewed in connection with an investigation. Are the first to refuse such voluntary infringements.

Why? Because they know the slippery slope that in this day and age you are guilty until proven inoccent, and wrongfull imprisonment is all too common.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
12 Jul 2004
In the middle of a national security event, which is threatened by a terrorist attack, you're goddam right you have to prove it. Are you really that stupid? You can stomp your tiny feet all day long and get no sympathy whatsoever from the people of this city.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
12 Jul 2004
Wow, a "national security event." Gosh, Scott, you're right, we'd best give up our civil liberties with all speed because proto-fascists are crying wolf again about "potential terrorist attacks."

Go see Fahrenheit 9/11, then come talk to us about the probability of such "threats" being a reality. And how these "threats" warrant us getting searched to get on the friggin' subway--even after the "threat" is past.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
13 Jul 2004
I don't go on airplanes and I guess I will never be riding on a train in Boston. This has got to stop and the people of Boston need to boycott the trains there! We have to stand up to them. Let it be like the Boston Tea Party!
Declare Martial Law or get off my Dam Back!
13 Jul 2004
scott and oooo your both wrong. Scott people do have a very legitimate right and responsibility to be concerened when civil liberties are withheld by men who do not have the authority to do so.

Scott how would you feel if government agents told you to shut your business for four days, not attend work, not drive, not carry packages, or do many other things. Because a group of School committee members were meeting across town where you live?

And ooooo, terrorist attacks have already hit this country and more than once. It would be foolish to confuse Mike Moore's version of Hollywood with reality. OOOO I know what your saying hype has replaced common sense in an effort to use fear to control the population. But there are legitimate terror concerns these days.

You would wear a seatbelt in a car right? Why? because there is a chance and a risk. But do you wear a full body suit and crash helmet?

No of course not, because risks must be balanced against what is a reasonable preventitive response.

If we use the seatbelt analogy then; Those who attend the DNC corporado glutony event are being allowed to drive without "seatbelts" but then everyone else on the road is being forced to cover their cars with down pillows to make up for it, its silly.

No suprise so many are fleeing the city for the week.

ps
This is what happens when citizens lose control over their government. And these are the Democrats who are suppose to be sensitive to this type of thing!!!
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
13 Jul 2004
Erin, some of us have jobs and can't boycott public transportation.

Or are you saying everyone in Boston should go buy a car or something?
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
13 Jul 2004
this is directed at conservative...this country and the world for that matter are ALWAYS at a threat from terrorist attacks, whether wearing a 'seatbelt' or not, so your analgy really doesnt work. taking PROPER PRECAUTIONS that DO NOT VIOLATE OUR AMENDMENTS is not a difficult task, and does not require those in authority to do anything more than what is ALREADY outlined in our constitution. Think about this, this country could not protect us from TWO AIRPLANES crashing into the TWO LARGEST BUILDINGS in the MOST POPULATED CITY in BROAD DAYLIGHT. do you honestly believe they will curb any terrorist act by harrassing its citizens? if anything, it will, like it already has, angered those that pose zero threat to the nation's security and encourage them to consider empathiszing with those that are the targets of these rascist, prejudiced, policies.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
13 Jul 2004
So you are saying that subway riders will take up jihad because some flatfoot searches their book bag? The convention is a big target. There are nasty people out to do us harm. Try to get a grip, please.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
13 Jul 2004
I think that it's important to notice that these new rules for the T are *permanent* rules. After the DNC has dried up and blown away, our civil liberties will still be subject to illegal search. The excuse is being made that these measures are for security purposes during the DNC, but it's a long-term plan with long-reaching ramifications on our rights against illegal search and harrassment.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
14 Jul 2004
Great, Scott. You've reduced all political resistance to "jihad."

Fuck you.

These intrusions aren't going to stop when the convention ends either, so cut the gullible "big target" shit.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
14 Jul 2004
Why all the tiresome bickering?

As far as I can tell most of us, political sport aside are on the same side. We dont want to be hassled and searched and screwed with every time we ride a bus or train.

Intrusive searches of people riding public transit doesnt do much to stop terrorists they just hit a weaker point. Such searches do slow down transit and reduces quality of life and a sense of free will we have all known until now.

The obvious question is how do we stop/reduce terrorism and maintane an open society?

My best guess is terrorism is here to stay (like a new disease) the best we can do is limit terrorism as much as possible. And for anyone who believes foriegn terrorism in the US is a recent phenomena look at 1993 forward.

Expanding personel freedoms is probably the best defense against terrorism. The more people are invested in society the more they feel it is their freedom to defend and will want to work against terrorists. Look at the Iraqi change of heart since June 30 2004.

ps

phoenyx I dont know what it is you disagree with as far as I can tell we are mostly saying the same thing. Where did I advocate or recomend anything extra constitutional?
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
15 Jul 2004
Ha! I don't even know where to begin with you folks. Alright, so since all of the 9/11 hijackers had valid I.D. and acted perfectly calm and normal... we will implement a strategy called "bahavioral profiling" to search those who appear to be threatening. Once they provide an ID and pass a bag search, they are clearly good people, though a five year old girl without ID could technically be a security threat. Please not as well that this strategy has never worked anywhere and has never been tried in a subway/train system scenario. Forget the DNC arguements since this is permanent as S. Eppler said. To "Scott" and the rest who forget, from one of the founders: "Those who give up liberty for the sake of security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin
If you give up your rights, what are the laws and government there to protect? You have nothing else! Those rights are supposed to be what make this country great and different.
Also, something else important to note: the searches will take place at a maximum of 4 stations at once, and the places will change.
So let's think.. MTBA has how many stations?
Consider this: so Terrorist 1 goes into station A, gets checked, but refuses to give ID. Terrorist 1 is kicked out. Then T1 walks a few blocks to station B and gets on the train. Nothing was prevented. This idea is ridiculous.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
15 Jul 2004
To oooo:
Michael Moore = Stupid, fat,f*ucking liar.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
15 Jul 2004
S Eppler, is this (permanent) rule written up online anywhere?

>>> I think that it's important to notice that these new rules for the T are *permanent* rules. After the DNC has dried up and blown away, our civil liberties will still be subject to illegal search. The excuse is being made that these measures are for security purposes during the DNC, but it's a long-term plan with long-reaching ramifications on our rights against illegal search and harrassment.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
15 Jul 2004
The question remains what is it we do to reduce terrorism while remaining open and free?

Personally I think more freedom is the answer not less freedom. Free people tend to want to stay that way, and will fight for it. If we begin to live in a police state one tyrant will be as good as the next.

Another important question is just what are we facing, and from whom?

If the spook types know what, who, where they ought to terminate the threat. And if they dont know then we are really f_cked!

And if the threat is being blown out of proportion for political reasons then we are double f_cked because nobody on either side of the aisle is complaining. Including Bush Chenney and the Kerrmeister and his adopted son John Edwards.

If they dont know what we face. Then police unions and power hungry tin-horn dictator wannabees. Will continue to just throw more and more elaborate and expensive plans together that benefit and empower themselves while burning up our collective resources and robbing us of our freedoms.

Please see WAR on DRUGS, Billions spent and drugs are still cheaper and easier to get than beer.
The full surveilance package is in place.
15 Jul 2004
Full security will not be in place until a day or two before the convention begins. When regional and multijurisdiction units are assembled to include members of the military and national guard.

But the surveillance package is complete and has been together for some time. A full number of agents/officers laying the ground work.

1 visits intended to intimidate more than learn (we know who you are).

2 overt surveillance, your suppose to notice it and be intimidated.

3 covert visits, surveillance, searches for those they are actually interested/worried about.

So maybe that person you saw 3 times in 3 different parts of the city was just going the same way today, maybe not, maybe your paranoid.

Is it paranoia if they are really against you?
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
16 Jul 2004
If you would like to support the ACLU and show your anger to the T officials, I've made a website here: http://www.cafeshops.com/protestmbta

You can buy shirts, stickers, and more (once I get some more items up).

I'm taking suggestions for other slogans.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
16 Jul 2004
Scott I don't mind you giving up your freedom, but hands off of mine. That something I fight for, meet you in Concord.

If they mean to have a Civil War let it begin here.
RTWO POINTS:
17 Jul 2004
one: i don't remember us bostonians deciding democratically to invite this "national security event" into our community, certainly not with full disclosure about the costs to our liberties. so, for the fat cats to assert that somehow we are obliged to subvert our rights to the police state they have conveniently assembled for our security is an insidious and false argument.
two:
does anyone else remember the dead prez or coup lyric about how the jihadis didn't fly the planes into east oakland? this is an important point. despite the massive loss of life in nyc people who had no direct control over US foreign policy, the US government is rresponsible for inviting this response against us, to its policies which humiliate, torture and murder equally innocent families and societies every day. the white/christian/capitalist/american supremacy which drives american policy is what's at fault, and where we should be concentrating our blame. to let them get away with their crimes, including the ones which brought on this response, is to let mass murderers get away with being held to account. and make no mistake- it's a response- the planes didn't fly into costa rica, or malawi, or oakland.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
17 Jul 2004
To already disturbed...

I assume that it's written in the actual policy set up by the MBTA. I was at a training with the National Lawyer's Guild the other day and they made a point to stress the fact that it's a permanent rule. That seems important enough to bare repeating.

An MBTA announcement stating the beginning is located online here, notice there is no END date proposed: http://www.mbta.com/insidethet/press_releases_details.asp?ID=1026
Boycott it
17 Jul 2004
This is a good reason to boycott the offending transit line. For inside the city, ride your bike! As for suburban trips, I'd DRIVE before I'd ride a transit line that claims the right to search bags.

A better option for suburban commuters may well be a moped or small motorcycle, so as to minimize contribution to global warming. If you previously drive to transit, you may even SAVE gas that way!
Above ground stops
18 Jul 2004
What about T stops that are above ground before Kenmore, will they be doing searches there? If not than the whole searching thing does nothing to protect the T. Anyone can board before Kenmore. If they do end up doing search's there what happens if you get stopped while crossing the street by cutting through the T stop area? I do that to cross Beacon all the time. Just qustions I want to raise.
a question of logic
20 Jul 2004
I think it's been pretty well stated that this is absurd, but i cant help but wonder what self respecting terrorist is going to hijack the commuter rail? I think if your going to kill yourself to take out other people you'd at least want to take out more people than you'd find on a bus or a subway car.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
21 Jul 2004
These terror alerts and searches are put in place to deny American citizens their inalienable rights. The PATRIOT Act is unconstitutional and wasn't even read by most of the congressmen who passed it. Both major political parties are just as guilty as the other.If our government wasn't completely controlled by the Israeli lobby then there would be no reason for any so called "terrorist" to cause us harm. Now that our foreign policy decisions are felt locally by unconstitutional search and seizure on your ride on the T, its important to get your eyes off the Metro and your brains from upside your ass and see that the real enemies of freedom are in Washingtonand in our complacency.
I've been boycotting the T
21 Jul 2004
Since i have begun hearing aobut random id searches and bag checks on the T, i've stopped riding it. I'm sorry, but my civil liberties and my privacy are much more important than a cheap ride into town.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
24 Jul 2004
yeah, what's really going on here is the Israeliazation of America, now you're going to get to know a little first hand how Palestinians feel every day - albeit in far worse conditions - so if you don't like it don't acquiece at home or abroad 'cause it can only get worse. Just look at the illegally occupied Palestinian territories and contemplate your own future.
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
27 Jul 2004
anyone thinking hide something in your baggage?
maybe something explicit and metal or just a lining of paper-clips in my pants.

NOTE: "i'm not the only one to remember that laby who set off metal detectors via chastity belt." real laugh!

i think a private study of the Randomnis of security checks are in order i'd like to se the ratio of differnt ethnicities/ genders and the ammount of searches per group a will bet it is higher among non-caucasians

this whole random search thing is silly because a real terrorist/arsonist knows to hide their stuff in inocous places like in small objects
Re: Your Civil Rights May Be Briefly Delayed: MBTA Security Inspections & the 4th Amendment
08 Jan 2006
i want this e maillike my new e mail plz