I’m afraid this could become a daily update category.
The nation’s “Constitution-Free Zone” has been enlarged yet again, beyond the airports, now to include the whole of the District of Columbia as detailed in this article from the Washington Examiner. (See also these subsequent reports here, and here.)
My take on all of this is pretty simple. Each well-intended step down this path takes us inexorably closer to the sort of police state that we ought to fear deep down in our mortal bones. As noted in this commentary by Gene Healy at the CATO Institute, “Like so many other homeland security schemes, the only “logic” behind this one is a mindless bureaucratic imperative. It will add to the capital’s growing security-state atmosphere without making us measurably safer.”
Indeed. And even if it did make us “measurably safer”, is that enough justification to suspend, indefinitely, our constitutionally guaranteed liberties? Sadly, even without that benefit, for many Americans, the premise itself appears to be sufficient. Let’s just hope they haven’t got a few cattle cars hidden around the corner for those who decide to “opt out” of the random searches.
A number of high points gleaned from the above-noted articles:
- Metro plans to begin random searches of its riders’ bags in the coming days….
- …the coordinated effort with the Transportation Security Administration was not in response to a specific threat….
- Officers will use randomized counting of riders carrying bags to choose who to screen.
- “It’s another tool in our toolbox.”
- “The whole idea is randomness…”
- “I really think we need to be realistic in these times.”
- Metro officials have defended the practice, saying that riders who do not want to be searched can leave their bags behind — or leave the stations and bus stops being screened.
- A few riders passing through College Park cursed under their breath when they saw the checkpoint, including one man who muttered “1935” and “Hitler.” But most commuters who were searched said they didn’t mind the scan.
- “This wasn’t offensive to me at all,” she said. “They didn’t even look in my bag.”
- When Bob Baer was tapped for a check, he exclaimed, “Oh, boy!” as he put his bag on the table. “I think I just missed my train but this is a good thing,” he said afterward as he headed to the platform to get to work — at his job at Homeland Security.