[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV contributor, Wendy McElroy]
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is tightening its grip on domestic travcel. I don’t mean the random, unpredictable security checks at bus, subway and train stations which already exist. I mean a coordinated and systematic police control of internal travel within America. Groundwork is being laid.
APPLICATION TO MAKE U.S. INTO AN AIRPORT SCREENING ZONE
The application was tucked away on page 71431 of Volume 77, Number 231 of the Federal Register (November 30). It was surrounded by soporific references to forwarding “the new Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).”
The application for funding from the TSA constitutes a preliminary step toward systematically expanding TSA’s authority from airports to highways and almost every other means of public travel. The expansion would erase one of the last remaining differences between the US and a total police state; namely, the ability to travel internally without being under police surveillance. The total police state you experience at airports wants to spill into roads and bus stops, to subways and trains. Or, rather, the TSA wants to solidify and spread the fledgling and erratic presence it already has.
The official request reads, “TSA’s Highway BASE program [Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement] seeks to establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation by posing questions to major transportation asset owners and operators.” An example would be an owner and the employees of a long-haul truck company. The application continues, “Data and results collected through the Highway BASE program will inform TSA’s policy and program initiatives and allow TSA to provide focused resources and tools to enhance the overall security posture within the surface transportation community.”
Meanwhile, the Government Security News Service provides additional details on TSA’s plans. TSA wants funding to conduct “security-related assessments” on about 750 “transportation assets” including “140 public transportation agencies.” An example would be bus depots or train stations.
Security Magazine (May 30th) offered a sense of how sweeping the definition of “assets” might be, including “trucking, school bus, and motor coach industries, privately-owned highway assets that may include bridges and tunnels, and other related systems and assets owned and operated by state departments of education and transportation.”
At this point, the goal is merely “an assessment.” But when did a government agency ever conclude that it didn’t need funding, expansion and more power? This is especially true of the militarized TSA that treats the public as “hostiles.”
The fact that the agency lamented the lack of a “single database” on public transportation is not reassuring. (Federal Register, Vol.77, No.104, pg. 31867, May 30.) The entire push seems aimed at not merely expanding but also centralizing information, efforts and authority, with BASE itself being a consolidation of several other TSA programs.