Thursday, 15 July 2004

"Throw Momma from the train"?

Press release:

TSA Begins Third Phase of Rail Security Experiment

Beginning Monday, passengers may be screened for explosives while traveling on Connecticut’s Shoreline East commuter rail as part of the third stage of a pilot program exploring new measures for rail security. Passengers boarding from one of the eight Shoreline East stations may pass through a specialized railcar equipped with on-board screening technology as the train is in motion .

In the previous TSA “Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot” (TRIP) tests, would-be passengers had the opportunity at the checkpoint at the station, before boarding the train, to refuse to have themselves and/or their baggage be “screened” (i.e. searched). It’s not clear if the screening was legal, but at least it was possible to refuse, and the TSA and the railroads (most of them, like the Shoreline East, government-owned and/or operated common carriers) could maintain at least a veneer of consent.

It’s less clear what options might be available to passengers who have already boarded, and whose fare has been collected and accepted, if they decline to consent to onboard “screening” while the train is in motion. Can a search be considered consensual if the only alternative is to jump from a moving train? Will those who “fail” the screening be thrown from the moving train? Or will the screening car also be a jail car, where they are detained until their expulsion at the next station stop? If anyone gets a chance to tour the new screening/jail car, ask to see the accommodations for those who decline to consent to screening.

Has it come to this, that the default accommodations on a government-owned and/or operated common carrier, for those who don’t “voluntarily” waive their right not to consent to search, are in the jail car? Or that those who assert their rights are to be thrown from the train — on the government’s orders?

Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 15 July 2004, 13:44 ( 1:44 PM)
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