Two articles this week highlighted how ridiculously intrusive Big Brother is getting.
First, readers probably are aware of the incident where a Florida man, who holds a concealed carry permit in that state but was not armed while traveling, was stopped and subjected to oppressive, possibly illegal search of his person and vehicle in Maryland. The question was, how did the Maryland officer know about his Florida CCW permit? Now we know.
Obviously for the driver, John Filippidis, and his family, this was alarming. What would prompt the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MTAP) to randomly select their vehicle?
Because the first question to Mr. Filippidis was about his gun ownership, and the police search for the gun was based on his gun ownership, the Florida CCW permit that Filippidis holds was identified as the most likely impetus for the stop, questioning and search.
. . .
Maryland State has invested heavily in Homeland Security technical capabilities, and they have structured their law enforcement community to engage in very specific activity surrounding their investment.
Maryland State has a network of technical security databases which access the databases of all other states who comply and coordinate with them. For states who do not willfully comply, or those who are not set up to align technically, Maryland mines data from various LEO systems.
Maryland has a rather innocuous sounding name for the intelligence hub which contains this data, it’s called Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.
The intelligence analysis hub has access to, and contains, Florida’s CCW list (among other identification systems) and mines the state’s database systems for vehicle plate numbers of the holders. These license plate numbers are then stored in a cross referencing database within the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.
The database is directly connected to another Maryland technological system – Their ALPR (Automatic License Plate Reader) system is synergized with the MCAC Hub.
Every time one of the flagged license plates are detected by the ALPR an alert is generated.
Mr. Filippidis license plate was picked up at the Fort McHenry Tunnel on I-95 as he noted within the article. The Maryland Authority Police pursuit car was probably positioned a couple miles from the ALPR camera.
. . .
Once the pursuit car was alerted by the ALPR system the simple chase was on. As the Tampa Tribune indicated in the article, the patrol car came abreast of Filippidi; this was to allow the MTAP officer to visually confirm the driver ID from the high resolution photo from Filippidis driver’s license which was automatically on the officers on board computer screen.
Mr. Filippidis was identified by the database, his license plate cross referenced to his Florida CCW permit, an alert transmitted to the patrolling Maryland officer, and the rest is outlined in the article.
There's more at the link.
Note that Mr. Filippidis was stopped without any probable cause whatsoever. The fact that he holds a Florida CCW permit does not mean that he may or may not be carrying a gun at any particular time. It's illegal in terms of the Fourth Amendment for an officer to assume that someone's acting illegally in the absence of any evidence to suggest that he is - but that's what the Maryland officer did.
Maryland has subsequently apologized for the incident, but to my mind that's not enough. I can only suggest that legal, law-abiding firearms owners should consider Maryland 'enemy territory' from now on. We can't assume our constitutional rights will be observed there - in fact, this incident demonstrates that they're more likely than not to be violated. I've enjoyed previous visits to that state: but from now on, Maryland can do without my tourist dollars, and I won't be buying from Maryland-based businesses if I have any choice in the matter.
The second article discusses the TSA's behavior monitoring program at US airports.
The Transportation Security Administration has about 3,000 officers trained to detect behavioral clues of "mal-intent." They eye travelers at checkpoints and throughout the airport for signs of above-normal stress, fear and deception, and sometimes engage in casual conversation to measure reactions. After the fatal shooting of a TSA officer in Los Angeles in November, the Behavior Detection Officers, or BDOs, have increased roaming in public areas of airports.
The Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, concluded in a recent report there is no credible evidence that TSA's behavior-detection program, which costs about $200 million a year, is effective.
. . .
TSA Administrator John Pistole, a former FBI official, likens the BDOs in 176 U.S. airports to cops on a beat ... "A lot of it is common sense," Mr. Pistole said in an interview last month in Houston. Effectiveness can be seen in arrests, he said. "We've found hundreds of people who had false IDs, who had drugs or cash or warrants or were in this country illegally. They demonstrated suspicious behavior and any one of them could have been a terrorist."
. . .
The program, which started at airports in 2007, has been criticized for snaring people who pose no threat to aviation. Most arrests are for fake IDs and drug possession.
TSA has also faced complaints of racial profiling, or simply being too subjective with its referrals. Anecdotal evidence in the GAO report seemed to back this up. The GAO said 21 of the 25 BDOs it interviewed said some behavioral indicators are subjective. Five of the 25 said they believed some profiling was occurring.
Again, more at the link.
The obvious problem with Mr. Pistole's perspective is very simple. The TSA is not a law enforcement agency. Therefore, if its agents are not law enforcement officers, why are they behaving like them? Why are they using police tactics and techniques which are not legitimate to their proper role and function?
That goes double for the arrests of which Mr. Pistole is so proud. The TSA's statutory function is transportation security. Why, therefore, is it referring people to law enforcement agencies for arrest over matters that are not threats to transportation security?
I'm beginning to think that, since our legislators have failed so miserably to rein in the apparatus of the Security State, the only recourse open to us as citizens will be to ostracize all those involved in its operation and administration. We'll have to shun those who perpetrate such abuses, and all who support them. Shut them out of everyday discourse. Refuse to have any contact with them, except that which can't be helped, such as when traveling. Treat them with the icy disdain they deserve - not to mention contempt, scorn and derision.
These bureaucratic goons aren't keeping us safe at all. They're merely playing bit parts in security theater - and very badly, at that. We should treat them as precisely that - bad actors, unworthy of respect.