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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Checking in with Bag Checking

Last week, the New York City subway system announced it would be randomly checking passenger bags. With much less press coverage, New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority PATH lines are now doing the same thing (I don't know whhat the other major lines that run into/out of Penn Station - LIRR, Metro North, and Amtrak) are doing. If any regular riders are reading this, drop a comment & let me know - I'm curious.

At any rate, questions, questions, questions:

1) Leaving aside the old, worn-out argument about profiling, I'm curious whether the police are looking for people with suspicious bags or suspicious looking people. They've really been very quiet about what they're looking for, other than the whole "we're going to be fair" line.

2) They've said repeatedly that anyone who doesn't want to have their bags checked will not be permitted on the train. Two questions here: a) Does that mean that once you're on the train, you're safe from inspection? Or if you refuse, do they just escort you off at the next stop? If that's the case, it would seem an excellent opportunity for someone who wished to commit a terrorist act, and b) if the checks are random, and you can walk away if you're picked, can't you just wait a few minutes & walk in again? If the cop on duty starts to recognize you, you could always go in through a different entrance, or a different station. Either way, it seems like a gaping hole in the system.

3) If they do look in my bag, what are they looking for? Let's say I'm carrying a knife in my bag. It's not illegal to carry a knife, nor is there any rule (that I'm aware of, anyway) that prohibits carrying knives on the subway. So if they find the knife, do they let me on? What if I'm carrying an explosive device (say I'm a chemist or scientist of some kind, or perhaps I work on special effects for movies or TV)? Again, as far as I know, there is no law against carrying an explosive device on the subway (assuming, of course, you don't set it off). So what's the verdict? Confiscate or not? At least with the airlines, they give you a list of what you can't bring on board...

Any thoughts, anybody?

posted by Brian at 2:39 AM


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