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Random searches in NYC subways; Is CTA next?

And so it goes. New York City is implementing random searches of subway passengers as the altest security measure, in response to yet another London bombing.

Are we next?


You're not next if you fight it.



Fight it with a bag full of dildoes.

I hope it comes to Chicago. How else are we going to catch terrorists before they strike?

And if you are not doing anything wrong, a 2 or 3 minute search isn't going to kill you. It will make us all safer.

oh, Speedy, don't you care about your civil rights at all?

Wow. Just think of how effective it would be to stop someone at Washington, have them refuse the search and leave ... and go straight to Lake where the odds of being randomly picked again is nil.

Assuming one of the one in a thousand random person they choose to search is a bomber, nothing has been done to stop them.

Meanwhile unwaranted searches are invading the privacy of people. In the end, they'll arrest a bunch of people who forgot that there was an extra joint at the bottom of their backpack, or they'll detain someone carrying a bag of power sugar they borrowed to make some frosting.

Perhaps if the process had a snowball's chance in hell of being successful, the costs to our civil liberties could be weighed, but the inititive has no chance of success. The only thing it will be successful at is infringing on our rights.

You can't just wave the "safety from terrorists" flag, to justify an assult on the Constitution. Today it's the Fourth Amendment that's being taken away. How long before the whole constitution is re-written to turn us into a police state?

Allowing our civil rights to be eroded, and our lifestyles changed to accept such government intrusion into our lives mean the terrorists win. Their assult on our liberty is successful if we give-up the very rights we claim we are fighting for.

The fourth amendment protects against UNREASONABLE searches and seizures. I'd argue that searching bags of people going into the subway, which has been effectively targeted by terrorists in Spain and now England, is a reasonable search. It's on par with airport security.

However, because the searches are random, they are completely ineffective.

jennie -

Yes...I do. I just wanted to write that to see what I actually felt like, since a lot of people think that way. See the problem from the other side, so to speak.

It was fun...complete abdication of responsibility. For a minute, I pretended I was a complete tool and took the easy way out. Let someone else take care of me, because I don't want to have to deal with the risks of life.

Thanks for calling me out, jennie. Experiment over.

I guess I might be more supportive of random searches if there were a way that they'd save any lives.

Consider the following "God-forbid" scenario: the police decide to search a bulging bag that looks like everybody else's -- except this one has a device inside. Terrorist hits trigger. Bag goes boom. Depending on size of device, explosion kills/maims horrifying number of people (Even one is horrifying. Even one is too many.) and damages CTA station massively.

Multiply by number of fanatic nutjobs. (Hint: One is too many here, too.)

Tell me, then: where in a CTA station would it be even remotely safe for law enforcement to conduct these searches so that the terrorist(s) could conceivably be prevented from following through on their grisly mission(s)?

A reasonable search would be one that involves either: A) Probably cause, or B) A requirement for everyone, not just "random" people.

That's what our founding fathers fought for. That's what generations before us fought for. We didn't fight for our freedom only to have our principles thrown away, and Nazi-like search techniques put in their place.

If that's the kind of repressive society you want to live in, there are plenty of them around the world. I'd prefer to live in a society in which personal liberty is valued, and the police don't just search you on a whim.

To give up this basic right is to spit on the efforts of everyone who fought for our freedom.

If a police state and marial law would actually do anything to enhance our safety, there could be an arguement made. Not necessarily a good arguement, but at least there would be some benefit. But there is no measurable benefit for us to reverse 224 years of precident, and allow the police to search random people without probably cause.

What's left if we give up our liberty? And how sad it would be if we did so without any valid reason?

Search everyone, or only search with probable cause. It's as simple as that. You can't just pick random citizens to search without cause.

>What's left if we give up our liberty? And how sad it would be if we did so without any valid reason?

No vaild reason? What are you, stupid? Are you unaware that there are people who seek to explode bombs aboard crowded transit systems? Are you of the belief that because countermeasures aren't 100% effective they must be abandoned? I bet you don't look both ways before crossing the street because it isn't 100% effective either. Random bag checks increase the complexity of an attack , possibly causing one to go off prematurely, at the entrance of a station where the blast can escape out open doors and blown out windows instead of inside a confined space like a tunnel. In addition, people would need to case the stations in advance, increasing the chances of being caught. And the cost of all of this? A bit of your time?

Vinny, I think _you_ are the idiot. Random searches aren't going to stop anyone serious. Here's the scenerio:

You are a terrorist with a bomb. The rent-a-cop says, "can I see your bag?". You say no, walk away, and get on the bus to the next station. Lather, rinse, repeat. Now that you're on the system, you can blow up your bomb whenever it's convenient for you.

What did random searches solve here?

Nothing, but they did waste my time. Just like the fucking dogs.

It's not a matter of random searches not being 100% effective. It's a matter of random searches being 0% effective.

They will *never* randomly choose a terrorist, and discover their weapon.

The terrorist will either:
A. Walk on by without being randomly chosen,
B. Decline to be searched, turn around, and access the system at another point,
C. Allow himself (herself?) to be searched, but the weapon (bomb?) will not be identified as a bomb.

The searches offer zero disincentive to a terrorist. Zero. At best, they mean if the terrorist has a specific location at a specific time in mind, they'll need to attempt to enter the system a little early in case they need to refuse the search, and enter at a different location. (Or as someone pointed-out in another thread, they could hand-off their bag to an accompliss who probably won't also be randomly selected.)

Meanwhile, the searches will result in vibrating dildos being pulled out of women's purses so they can demonstrate that they really are dildos and not bombs. EE degree students will be arrested for bringing their homework to school. Ordinary people will forget they have a left-over joint in their bags, and will be arrested. And hundreds of other law-abiding citizens will be required to expose private items that they never intended to expose.

All that, and it won't stop any terrorists, and the odds of even slowing one down are quite long.

They won't need to case the station in advance. They won't need to increase the complexity of their attacks. And if they decide to explode the bomb in the station vestibule instead of waiting to get on the train, you won't be able to escape any easier just because there are more doors available. It's highly unlikely that they'd use a bomb that counts down or gives any kind of pre-explosion warning.

For this we're not only suposed to give up our time, but give up our right to privacy?

If you really think that random searches are even going to be the slightest bit effective, then I would suggest that you not depend upon your wits to survive. They will fail you.

Last fall, before these recent public transportation scares, I was searched randomly in a way that was most definitely NOT constitutional. My boyfriend and I were at the Cicero stop of the Green Line going North at about 9 pm, and these two white guys accosted us and started pushing us against the wall. "Open up your bags!" they said. We were afraid, my boyfriend tried to refuse, and only THEN did it come out that they weren't mugging us at all but were cops trying to SEARCH us, because "the only reason white people come to this neighborhood is to buy drugs" (May I add that my boyfriend is NOT white, but he does look upper-middle class, I guess). Since we were so relieved that we weren't getting mugged, we allowed this to happen and it didn't even occur to us to get their badge numbers and report this, but boy am I mad about it now! My point is, I don't expect this increase in security to be handled with tact and respect based on MY past experience...

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» The challenges of safe transport from Merge
With New York introducing baggage checks on the MTA, the CTA tattler asked the obvious question: "Are we next?" The post sparked spirited debate among commenters, particularly about privacy in the face of screening. Slate explores that very topic in... [Read More]

» The challenges of safe transport from Merge
With New York introducing baggage checks on the MTA, the CTA tattler asked the obvious question: "Are we next?" The post sparked spirited debate among commenters, particularly about privacy in the face of screening. Slate explores that very topic in... [Read More]

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