Lawyer Slams TSA “Counter-Terror” Bus Program
Police Chief tries to cover up Fourth Amendment violations
Source: Paul Joseph Watson
Criminal defense attorney Mark Bennett has slammed the Houston METRO and the TSA for a “counter-terror” exercise that involved cops and TSA agents riding buses as undercover spies, as METRO Police Department Chief Victor Rodriguez denied that random bag searches had taken place despite a post-exercise METRO press release stating bag searches had occurred.
As we reported last week, TSA VIPR agents and undercover police officers were placed on buses in Houston as part of a program labeled BusSafe. Their job was to to perform bag searches, watch for “suspicious activity” and interrogate passengers in order to ‘curb crime and terrorism’.
Unsurprisingly, the expensive drill didn’t turn up any terrorists, it snagged a few prostitutes and drug dealers, but given that the whole idea is to condition Americans to accept TSA goons getting in their face every time they try to travel anywhere, consider it mission accomplished.
However, Attorney Mark Bennett isn’t letting it go lightly, pointing out that using 81 uniformed feds to conduct such a pointless operation at a time when local governments can ill afford it is unforgivable.
“This isn’t about terrorism — they’re not busting terrorists, they’re not finding bombs. And that’s not even what they’re trying to do,” Bennett told ABC 13.
Bennett also questioned METRO Police Chief Victor Rodriguez’s claim that police and TSA agents performed “zero random bag checks.”
“I don’t believe they didn’t do any searches. The reason I don’t believe it is before the operation, they announced there were going to be random bag checks. And after the investigation, they announced in their official blog that there had been bag checks,” Bennett said.
In a post released after the exercise had concluded, the official blog of the METRO transit authority reported that “Law officials performed random bag checks,” words that remain posted at time of press. In addition, apress release issued prior to the exercise also stated that “random bag checks” would be performed.
In addition, immediately after the exercise went into effect, Phillip Levine of the Houston Free Thinkers blog witnessed police and TSA agents conducting bag searches as well as interrogating passengers.
Indeed, since drugs were found during the exercise, how else could they have been discovered other than bag searches?
It seems that METRO authorities only tried to retract the statement that they had performed random bag searches, which they had announced publicly on two separate occasions as a statement of fact, when Bennett started complaining to the media about how the warrantless checks were a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
“Of course no terrorists were detected in this “counter-terrorism exercise.” Instead METRO’s constituents, the bus riders, were hassled by an agency, the TSA, best known for its overbearing, aggressive, assaultive and abusive behavior at airport checkpoints,” Bennett wrote in a comment on the official METRO website. “Shame on you, METRO, and shame on you, Sheila Jackson Lee. Houston doesn’t want TSA.”
Despite the operation being dubbed an “exercise,” Rodriguez said that TSA agents and police officers could be riding on buses as undercover spies again in a matter of weeks, suggesting authorities are looking to make the activity a routine practice.
In addition, Rodriguez said that random bag searches could be ordered at any point in the future, maintaining, “he does have the right to search your bag and may tell his officers to do it.”
Speaking to the Houston Chronicle, Bennett argued that, “inviting the TSA to expand its authority would make no one safer but would instead inevitably limit freedom.”