VIPeR’s in the grass

TSA VIPRThe United States of America has become a nation infested with VIPeR’s, not those reticulated serpents that so many people fear but instead these VIPeR’s are a two-legged variety of cop whose primary duty seems to be to invade a citizen’s sacred privacy. In some parts of the world that has been going on for a long time, but in the United States, that is never supposed to happen unless you are accused of a crime and arrested.

Who and what are these VIPR’s?

Homeland Security storm trooperA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team (VIPR, or VIPER) according to Wikipedia is a “Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program. Various government sources have differing descriptions of VIPR’s exact mission. It is specifically authorized by 6 U.S.C. § 1112 which says that the program is to ‘augment the security of any mode of transportation at any location within the United States’.”

Note that there seems to be some confusion about the mission of a team of uniformed quasi-police, secret in nature, who carry guns and intimidate citizens at bus terminals, in truck stops and even in their private automobiles. The “any mode of transportation” part is especially onerous because a search of a private automobile without permission is an illegal search without a warrant and probable cause that a crime is being or about to be committed; or at least it was until TSA and the VIPeR’s got into the act.
In the United States of America, the Constitution is supposed to guaranteed that your freedom is not to be taken away from you unless you are tried and convicted of a crime in an open court of law. Neither of these statements hold any meaning any longer in the United States of America.

Erosion of Freedom?

Fred Reed writes regular articles about the alarming trend of the government of the United States to move toward a totalitarian society where everyone informs on everyone else and everyone is afraid. Does that sound like the USA you want to live in?

Not What Tom Jefferson Had in Mind by Fred Reed – June 24, 2013

Where are your papersThe Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America provides “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…

In a dictatorship:
(1) Sweeping laws are made without reference to the will of the people…consider the militarization of the police, the creation of Homeland Security’s Viper teams that randomly search cars, the vast and growing spying on Americans by government, and the genital gropings by TSA. Consider the endless undeclared wars that one finds out often only after the troops have been sent. All simply imposed from above.

(2) Another measure of dictatorship is the extent to which the people fear their government.
How many of you have thought that if you write something critical of the US government or search for something “forbidden” by the NSA, you would get on someone’s “list”, no fly or otherwise? If so, you are no longer living in a free country, regardless of what country that is.
Watching You

(3) Dictatorships characteristically watch the citizenry very carefully, using the secret police and encouraging people to inform on each other. Both are now routine. Did you vote to have your email read, your telephone calls recorded, your browsing habits on the web turned over to the NSA or the FBI?

The Internal Revenue Service is yet another source of deliberate intimidation…the intent of recent government actions implies that the role of the IRS is not only to collect taxes owed but also to punish. As has been documented, Mr. Obama’s administration employs the IRS for exactly this purpose.

(4) Lack of constitutional government. This is not the same as lack of a constitution. The Soviet Union had an admirable constitution. It just paid no attention to it…The American constitution says that Congress must declare war in order for our forces to be deployed. This last happened in 1941.

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids self-incrimination, which means confessions obtained under torture. Obama’s administration openly tortures prisoners of war…The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. Again, the Obama administration uses the intelligence apparatus of the state to monitor the communications of reporters. This is highly intimidating, which is the intent…the government inevitably will abuse its knowledge.

Policeman from the old daysThere was a time in the United States that any citizen could reasonably expect to be treated with some respect, even when that citizen was surly, rude and arrogant. A policeman has a sworn duty to serve and protect citizens, not intimidate, not threaten, and certainly not to hurt or kill citizens.

Policemen used to be thought of as looking like the good guys, not some para-military, quasi-commando, black-clad death squad.

In the first episodes of the popular television series Battlestar Galactica, the President wants Commander Adama of the Galactica to declare martial law over the surviving fleet. Adama refuses the demand and says “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

Welcome to the 21st Century of Amerika where the police have become the military and its citizens have become the enemies of the State…Police as military

Homeland (in)Security?

The original Homeland Security forces“… the Department of Homeland Security is (supposed) to protect the United States and we (are supposed to) do this by upholding the Constitution and The Law Of The Land.”

Of course there were people involved in Homeland Security long before the United States became a country and wrote a Constitution. What about dem folks?

The TSA Wants To Be Everywhere In 2013 — Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Let It
by Christopher Elliott 01/02/2013
…the TSA goes to NFL games and political conventions and all kinds of places that have little or nothing to do with air travel…(VIPR) conducts these searches…it’s not hard to imagine the next step, to a permanent presence with full-body scans and pat-downs. It’s a scene straight out of a dystopian novel and a direct affront to the Fourth Amendment values. If VIPR teams are somehow more effective than the highway patrol or the local police at stopping terrorists…then the Department of Homeland Security should show us that evidence.

TSA at work in airportsDHS Lawyer : Travelers Need Not Submit To TSA VIPR Teams – 11.01.2011
This blogger received an email from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attorney which states in part:
“The TSA cannot demonstrate that a person simply entering a mass transit center has given up their reasonable expectation or privacy, as determining what is inside a person’s pockets or bags requires a physical intrusion into the person’s personal property.”

“Should a traveler encounter a TSA VIPR team deployed in a non-airport environment I would advise them to refuse to submit to the search.”

“A sign hung in the corner of a train station stating bags may be subject to search does not negate the need to demonstrate probably cause for the search by law enforcement.”

“TSA VIPR teams operating in highway rest stops should be for informational purposes only. Should TSA VIPR teams attempt to search truckers or bus drivers, their vehicles or property, those drivers should refuse the search…”

Even former employees of the TSA are having their say about the draconian measures of this not-so-beloved governmental organisation. Jason Edward Harrington is the author of TakingSenseAway, a blog about his seven years of experience with the TSA.

The same blogger posts a letter “from a military veteran, and a solid writer…”

I found Mr Harrington’s blog from this story; Dear America, I Saw You Naked, And yes, we were laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA agent.

Mr Harrington also writes “Recently, a blogger named Jonathan Corbett released a video proving that anyone can easily bypass the billion dollar full body scanner technology, filming himself repeatedly passing through the scanners with a medium-sized metal object…”

And finally article called “A Waste of Time and Money” by Bruce Schneier adds a bit of context to the TSA. He writes “This is a stupid game, and we should stop playing it. It’s not even a fair game. It’s not that the terrorist picks an attack and we pick a defense, and we see who wins. It’s that we pick a defense, and then the terrorists look at our defense and pick an attack designed to get around it.”

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

It takes a special kind of brave citizen to stand up to these commandos and tell them that you will not allow them to search your car without a warrant, that you refuse to be searched on the street, that your personal truck and belongings are none of their business. Citizens should start making it legally difficult and time-consuming at airport “grope” attacks. Citizens should demonstrate on the streets and in the offices of the TSA until they stand down and stop treating citizens always as if they are criminals. No one has ever proven that transportation is any safer with TSA procedures in place than they were before 9/11. Stand up, speak out, do not allow these commandos to lead you to the cattle cars…

It is questionable that Homeland Security operates under the Constitution of the United States of America? It does not seem to be the one which school kids are taught to revere.

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