Date published: November 21, 2011
First it was airports. Then it was bus and train stations. Now, under the Transportation Security Administration's Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, even the highways aren't safe from the TSA's prying eyes and probing fingers.
"Tennessee is now the first state ever to work with the TSA to deploy a simultaneous counterterrorism operation statewide," Nashville's WTVF-TV said in October. That operation, which involved the TSA along with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSHS) and state and local police, was deployed at "five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state," the station reports.
It was a two-pronged approach, the report adds. Government agents were "recruiting truck drivers . . . into the First Observer Highway Security Program to say something if they see something." At the same time, "the Tennessee Highway Patrol checked trucks with drug and bomb sniffing dogs during random inspections."
The searches, of course, are a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, which requires government agents to obtain a warrant based "upon probable cause" prior to searching a person's "houses, papers, and effects." No warrants had been issued: and none of the trucks, buses, drivers, or passengers was suspected of any wrongdoing. In fact, TDSHS Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin specifically stated that the VIPR operations were "not based on any particular threat," according to the Jackson Sun.