Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Will They Change Their Name?

While looking for a news story that I heard a short bit ago on the radio, I came across this story about a 3 day test of the Air Marshals patroling train and bus stations to increase security in those locations.

CNN Story

Several things in this article jumped out at me and I felt a need, nearly overwhealming, to discuss it.

The 'ground' teams will be called "Visible Intermodal Protection and Response" teams -- or VIPER teams. The teams will consist of two air marshals, one TSA bomb-sniffing canine team, one or two transportation security inspectors and a local law enforcement officer.
I always find the governmental need to come up with neat acronyms for everything to be rather silly. My real interest here is, how much do you suppose the Department of Homeland Security spent of our hard earned money to come up with the designation.

The VIPER teams will patrol Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Los Angeles rail lines; bus stations in Houston; and mass transit systems in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore. This is important because everyone knows that no one else is likely to be attacked. (Say Chicago, Dallas, Miami. Not to mention my own Cleveland.)

The TSA is trying to expand the role of air marshals, who have been eager to conduct surveillance activities beyond the aircraft, and tighten security at public transit stations over the holiday. The Air Marshals are eager to do this surveillance, that seems moderately distrubing to me, but is probably just my paranoia unfurling. (The 'War On Christmas (tm) has been stiring it up just a little to begin with.)

Air marshals stepped outside of their usual role of flying undercover on airliners after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. They were sent to keep order at Louis Armstrong International Airport, where thousands of evacuees converged after the levees were breached. This basically tells me this was something that was in the works before Katrina hit but they found a great excuse for the emergency services that the Air Marshals provided at that time to 'cover' this fact. (Okay enough paranoia for one day.)

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