When we spoke to the METRO board of directors last week, it struck me that some of the things that I consider common knowledge might not be. Chairman Gilbert Garcia asked me for links to my blog posts on the subject of the meeting, by which I think he meant TSA and its VIPR teams.
I’m not the best resource for either, but I can point the METRO board in the right direction.
For TSA’s airport depredations, and an introduction to TSA’s culture of contempt for American travelers’ dignity and freedom, see Lisa Simeone’s TSA News.
For the direction that TSA is taking, exporting its culture to the surface-travelling public, see this post by Simeone.
The Amtrak police chief barred VIPR teams from Amtrak property after their illegal harassment of passengers disembarking in Savannah.
Garcia, the chairman of METRO’s board, seems to recognize that the buck stops with him. If Chief Rodriguez bollockses up METRO’s relationship with its passengers and the community by inviting VIPRs to town and demanding papers from disembarking passengers, it’s the board that will be held accountable.
The statute authorizing VIPR teams requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to:
(3) …prior to and during the deployment, consult with local security and law enforcement officials in the jurisdiction where the VIPR team is or will be deployed, to develop and agree upon the appropriate operational protocols and provide relevant information about the mission of the VIPR team, as appropriate; and
(4) …prior to and during the deployment, consult with all transportation entities directly affected by the deployment of a VIPR team, as appropriate, including railroad carriers, air carriers, airport owners, over-the-road bus operators and terminal owners and operators, motor carriers, public transportation agencies, owners or operators of highways, port operators and facility owners, vessel owners and operators and pipeline operators.
So before VIPR teams operated at or on METRO facilities, METRO should have been consulted. The board wasn’t consulted; Chief Victor Rodriguez set up the METRO-VIPR operation without consulting the board. I have heard that Tom Lambert, METRO’s ex-chief and now-VP, runs interference for Chief Rodriguez. Whether that’s true or not, the first step the board should take in preventing further community outrage is to make federal operations affecting METRO a matter for the board.