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G W North

Big Brother's ever-closer watch

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G W North    0

MBTA set to begin passenger ID stops

Effort part of national rail security program

By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff | May 22, 2004

MBTA transit police confirmed yesterday they will begin stopping passengers for identification checks at various T locations, apparently as part of new national rail security measures following the deadly terrorist train bombings in Spain.

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Although officials would release few details about the initiative, the identity checks will mark the first time local rail and subway passengers will be asked to produce identification and be questioned about their activities.

Officers have been training for the security checks since May 11, transit officials said. MBTA Police Deputy Chief John Martino confirmed via e-mail yesterday that officers have been training with State Police at South Station this week.

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the State Police involved in the training were from Troop F at Logan International Airport, where such identification checks have been taking place since about a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Pesaturo wouldn't say where or when the identification stops would take place, or how long they would last.

"The training is part of the MBTA's overall plan for enhancing safety and security for the hundreds of thousands of people who use our system every day," Pesaturo wrote in the e-mail. "Law enforcement personnel are being trained to detect whether a person's or persons' actions are an indication of any level of risk or threat to the transit system . . . and to then take appropriate steps based on the observed behavior.

"If the MBTA did not do everything it can to protect transit users, it would be a dereliction of our duties and responsibilities as public servants," he added.

Ann Davis, Northeast regional spokeswoman for the federal Transportation Security Administration, refused to confirm that T's ID checks are part of a new national rail security program announced Thursday by federal officials. Those new security initiatives are scheduled to start tomorrow, in response to terrorist train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 and injured 2,000.

"We don't want to map out for potential terrorists how we intend to protect the rails," she said.

Concerns about threats to the nation's rail system have risen since ABC News reported a pattern of suspicious activities along the rail corridor between Washington, D.C., and New York. The report said New Jersey's attorney general is investigating at least seven instances in the last week of suspected surveillance along the New Jersey Transit commuter lines leading into Philadelphia, Trenton, and New York.

FBI agents in Philadelphia are also investigating the discovery of an infrared sensor concealed along the track bed of a Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority rail line.

The State Police officers based at Logan who are instructing T police have been trained in "behavior pattern recognition" in order to identify potential terrorists.

According to past interviews with Logan's primary security consultant, Rafi Ron, former head of security at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel, such a program helps avoid accusations of racial profiling and is based on the behavior of those stopped. Logan was the first American airport at which the method was used.

Martino said "we do not racially profile and do not consider that someone is suspicious because they appear to be Middle Eastern or that they are not suspicious if they don't appear to be."

The expansion of identity checks to rail and subway passengers has raised concerns among civil rights advocates about what is gained through such stops and whether they are truly random.

Last October, State Police at Logan stopped Lylburn King Downing, the national coordinator of the American Civil Liberties Union's Campaign Against Racial Profiling -- and an African-American -- who was ordered out of the airport after he refused to answer an officer's questions during an identification check.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has since sought more information about the policies of Massachusetts Port Authority and State Police governing such searches, but ACLU officials say they have had little cooperation from either agency.

"About a year ago they admitted they were using training based on an Israeli security model of behavioral profiling or selection which they declined to either explain or to otherwise amplify what it means," said John Reinstein, legal director for the ACLU of Massachusetts. "We asked for the records and they said that's no longer a public record because anything that has to do with security is no longer a public record."

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Scott    1

Yes, it's real sad that it has come to this. FYI, 3 out of the 7 terrorist suspects wanted by the FBI and presently in the United States are Canadian citizens.

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G W North    0

FYI, 3 out of the 7 terrorist suspects wanted by the FBI and presently in the United States are Canadian citizens.

I fail to see how that has anything to do with the topic at hand. The topic was Boston's transit system, not Canadian terrorists :rolleyes:

Often when I ride my bike for example I don't even bring ID with my because I don't want to risk my wallet falling out of my pocket and losing it. What happens to people with no ID? Or are the going to make a new law saying you must always carry ID with you?

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Guest donaltopablo   
Guest donaltopablo

I fail to see how that has anything to do with the topic at hand. The topic was Boston's transit system, not Canadian terrorists :rolleyes:

Often when I ride my bike for example I don't even bring ID with my because I don't want to risk my wallet falling out of my pocket and losing it. What happens to people with no ID? Or are the going to make a new law saying you must always carry ID with you?

There is no law that I am aware of against not carrying ID. However, the police have the right to detain you until they can verify your identity if you do not provide one when stopped. So yes, no having an ID can lead to a trip to jail or the police station for detainment. Also, not telling the police your real identity is an actual crime, one I've seen people go to jail for. So if the police ask you for ID, don't say, I'm not going to tell you, that's a free trip to jail.

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G W North    0

My name isn't a reference to GW Bush, in case anyone is wondering. It was supposed to be short for "Great White North". I didn't notice the similarity until monsoon pointed it out, lol.

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Brickell    0

That's the first thing to came to my mind...

"papers please!"

how many times have we seen that presented as the symbol of communist russia in movies?

I think what the canadian comment was supposed to mean is that there's really not much to look for. this is just a way to harrass people. are we going to stop all canadians from riding the T? How about just all muslims? Maybe we should just let the republicans ride...

Oh wait, they don't do they?

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Guest donaltopablo   
Guest donaltopablo

Well, before everyone goes all 1984 - we've been required to show ID at the airport for years now, I don't see the fall of free America coming because of it.

Road Blocks for nearly 20 years, show ID.

I suspect if your out jogging the chances a cop will mess with you is slim, and if they do, I imagine they'd cut you some slack on not having an ID. Riding a subway, alright, maybe a bit unusual, but hardly communist Russia here :)

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BrandonTO416    77

I think there are better ways to protect us from terrorism then randomly searching people.

Just like at the airports when they say they need to scan everybody as a terrorist. Doesn't this waste time, resources, money, and chances of catching criminals when you willingly search those who are very unlikely to be terrorists?

Why search the 80 year old grandmother as vigorously as the person who is young, on a one way ticket, and travelling between cities while big events are going on?

You waste time that could be used to catch real criminals using our best police science techniques available.

Our entire system is bogged down by this b.s. And yea - its GW Bush's America.

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Cotuit    0

You waste time that could be used to catch real criminals using our best police science techniques available.

'Best police' not something that would ever be likely said when speaking of Boston's T police. If the Feds through the Department of Homeland security had anything to offer municipalities in the way of training or funds The T would not be resorting to such an idiotic policy.

The fact is that the T police cannot handle the normal crime rate that you find in Boston (which has been low compared to most American cities for years now). The T police is tragically ill prepared to face the threat of internationally sanctioned terrorism within the Greater Boston transportation system (they are tragically ill prepared to bust fare jumpers :rolleyes: ).

The current administration is too busy cutting taxes for the rich to fund programs that could combat terrorism directed at all of us. Having Ridge flash some photos on the evening news is not going to keep us secure, any more than randomly carding people on the T will.

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Cotuit    0

Lawyers to contest T-rider search plan

By David Weber | Wednesday, June 30, 2004

A group of civil rights lawyers said they will ask a judge to prohibit the MBTA from instituting a policy of searching riders' bags and briefcases.

Citing the terrorist train bombings in Spain, T officials claim the beefed-up security is needed, especially during the Democratic National Convention.

Opponents say that unlike airport screening, checks of T riders would be unconstitutional because of their random nature and would do little to increase security.

"The price of getting on the T now will be implied consent to random search and seizure,'' said lawyer William C. Newman.

Michael Avery, local chapter president of the National Lawyers Guild, said members of his organization are preparing to seek an injunction against the T.

Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said, ``No one wants another terrorist attack. But this would be `pretend' security.''

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said transit officials believe the plan is necessary and will enhance safety. He said the plan is to begin the screening at T stations in the coming days, but declined to be specific, saying that would tip off potential terrorists.

Riders interviewed yesterday on the Orange and Blue lines were split over the proposal.

"It won't make things safer. It's a stupid idea,'' said a woman who gave her name as Elida B.

Doris Lenkowski of Medford said, "I don't think they should do it. It's an invasion of privacy,'' before adding, "The world's in an awful state.''

Bill Frazier of Quincy disagreed.

"No problem. When you're clean, you're clean,'' he said. "It's a proactive measure. Safety first.''

From The Boston Herald

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Ron Newman    0

I got this announcement from the ACLU today:

The next demonstration against searches on the T will take place on

Tuesday morning, July 13, from 8AM to 9AM outside the Park Street station. The

national ABC and National Public Radio may be there, and we would like a huge

turnout. Please come if you can, and get your friends to come.

Thanks,

Nancy Murray

ACLU of Mass.

617 482-3170 x 314

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bigbuilding    0

If a terrorist wants to attack a transportation system which one will they chose:

City A that does not randomly inspect large bags.

or

City B that does randomly inspect large bags.

That's correct folks, the terrorist will chose city A.

If people feel inconvenienced by random bag seaches, they will be devastated when South Station is closed for 2 years to rebuild after a terrorist attack. These people will also be the first ones to say: "the MBTA Police should have done more"

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Cotuit    0

You don't need to be carrying a large bag to pull off a successful terrorist attack.

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Cotuit    0

MBTA halts baggage screening

Searches ended with convention

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff | August 13, 2004

Despite vows to continue random bag-screening after the Democratic National Convention, no searches have been conducted on the MBTA since the convention ended late last month, and officials privately acknowledge that there are no plans to reinstate the controversial, first-in-the-nation policy anytime soon.

State Transportation Secretary Daniel A. Grabauskas said yesterday that the T will not say whether bag searches have been conducted since the convention "or where or when we may conduct them in the future.

"For the random baggage inspections to be effective, it's inappropriate to alert those we are trying to intercept as to where these inspections will be conducted or when," Grabauskas said.

But in interviews, other MBTA officials, riders, and the civil liberties groups that challenged the policy all said that baggage screening, conducted at different subway and commuter rail stations during the week of the convention, ended when most delegates returned home on July 30.

The checks, in which passengers were selected at random to have their bags screened by an explosives-detecting machine, were deemed a success by security planners. But they are difficult to justify without a major event like the convention, according to one MBTA official.

During the convention week, a federal judge OK'd another feature of the T's security plan -- on-board searches of all passengers on the Orange Line prior to trains passing by the convention venue, the FleetCenter. But the judge did not address the legitimacy of stopping the estimated 1.1 million people who use the transit system every day.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Lawyers Guild, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee have all vowed to renew their legal challenge if the T reinstates the policy, which the groups say violates constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

In an interview during the week of the convention, Michael Mulhern, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said that the T would evaluate the expense and the effectiveness of the random bag checks, but that the searches would continue, in some form, after the Democratic convention.

The agency might reinstate the baggage screenings totally at random or when the threat level is increased or if there are terror warnings specific to transit, Mulhern said.

The bag checks began after the MBTA received warnings from US homeland security officials that terrorists were planning an attack designed to disrupt the country's political process and that transit systems were specifically a target.

Transit systems continue to be a concern, particularly following the deadly attack on 10 commuter trains in Madrid in March, but the political spectacle of the convention came and went without incident.

At yesterday's MBTA board meeting, Mulhern congratulated T employees for the convention week, during which there were no major incidents.

A Transportation Department spokesman, Jon Carlisle, said after the meeting that the T was still compiling figures on the cost of the screening program, how many people were stopped, and how many passengers refused to consent to a search and were denied entry to the system.

Members of the T Riders Union, a passenger advocacy group, said at the meeting that riders should be included in the evaluation of the screening policy, but were being excluded.

MBTA officials have said they welcome any feedback, but are committed to keeping the transit system secure.

Some riders were tolerant of the random searches during the week of the convention and said they believed that the security concerns surrounding the event justified the policy, Matsueda said.

But those same people would object to searches becoming a permanent part of using the MBTA, he said.

From The Boston Globe

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