Sunday, January 4, 2009

Is a smiling Gestapo better than a grimly honest one?

I'm about a month late picking up on this post from JD Tuccille's Disloyal Opposition, but better late than never.

So in that time JD added to his post on the eerie, kinder-gentler Transportation Security Administration Gestapo with one on not-so-random stops by the Border Patrol in what the ACLU characterizes as the Constitution-free Zone within 200 miles of all US borders.

Here's the scoop from your public servants, as reported by a State Representative who encountered the Border Patrol on Amtrak:

At about 5:30am Dec 31 in Imperial Cty. CA, but well away from the Mx. border, US Border Patrol agents stopped and boarded our westbound Amtrak train with a dog and proceeded to walk through all the cars. This woke up my sleeping child and angered me. Amtrak staff told me this was 'random', not based on any specific suspicion or request, and sometimes BP makes trains stop for these searches. Nevertheless, Amtrak staff seemed to fully be part of the program and did not protest or protect passengers in any way.

I saw the dog 'hit' on one passenger's backpack, which BP then searched, without asking for consent, and found a pipe. The guy was pulled off the train, made to put his hands on his head and searched, then let go with only having his pipe taken (likely due to being in CA, if in AZ or many other states he likely would've been hauled off in handcuffs).

I asked BP agents 'why the stop?', and had a bright flashlight directed at my head in a threatening manner for a while as I was told their view that 'we can stop any person, vehicle or aircraft any time for any reason anywhere within 100 miles of the border'. I followed them to observe and eventually IDed myself as a State Rep. and made my disapproval of this conduct clear to BP and Amtrak and their behavior improved and they soon left. The USBP sector chief here (El Centro) is Calhoun.

Any time. Any reason. Yeah, Libertarians are crazy to be worried about a police state.


Waldo said...

This has been going on for over a year in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, up to 75 miles from the only contact with Canada, a ferry dock in Port Angeles.

rc said...

For some of us a lot longer than a year. It's called profiling. I-10 from Florida to California is notorious.

Is it constitutional? Does anyone think that matters? rc