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Posted at 12:09 PM ET, 03/ 4/2011

ACLU to sue Metro over random bag checks

By Maggie Fazeli Fard

A passenger is diverted to a security checkpoint at the Braddock Road Metro stop Dec. 21, 2010. (Gerald Martineau/Post)

The fight against Metro's controversial bag searches could end up in court, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stepping up efforts to end the "security theater," reports the Examiner.

Metro "is on a collision course with the ACLU and its partners," said Johnny Barnes, executive director of the D.C. chapter, during a news conference in downtown Washington on Thursday, indicating that Metro ignored requests to meet with the activist group.

In response, the ACLU is launching an anti-bag search campaign -- including educational fliers, a petition and even plans for two "symposia" -- and the D.C. chapter of the organization is inviting those who have been searched to step forward.

"If they're interested in legal recourse, we'll give consideration to their legal merits," Barnes said.

Metro officials reportedly reached out to the ACLU after Thursday's news conference to set up a meeting. But Barnes told the Examiner the ACLU's campaign would only be thwarted by one thing: "If they say they'll end the searches," Barnes said, "that changes everything."

Metro started the bag searches in December, immediately drawing the rancor of riders.

Past coverage: Metro board debates inspections Metro begins random bag checks

More: Dr. Gridlock Transportation

By Maggie Fazeli Fard  | March 4, 2011; 12:09 PM ET
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Sue away. We'd enjoy seeing some ACLU "litigious theater" as they burn through their budget on a lost legal cause. Of course, the randomization within the search policy by WMATA does indeed undercut its effectiveness, but was undertaken only because petulant ACLU and NAACP threats to sue over so-called "profiling" forced WMATA to run with what is, by contrast, a security placebo instead. Mind you, fear reduction is an important policy objective, even if the terrorism preventive impact of the particular search method has been grievously weakened by...the ACLU and its ilk.

So, since we know the ACLU would rather sue than protect, would rather litigate than help legislate, would rather risk a train bombing than inconvenience an indignant K-Street commuter---WMATA might as well go with the *non*-random searches. Gonna get sued by twits either way. Probably win either way, too.

Posted by: PG_Voter | March 4, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The beauty of the Metro is its redundancies. For many of us, we have two or more ways of getting to and from work. This is really handy when part of the Metro is shut down.

This feature is the main reason why the random search project will fail. If you look at the photo, you will see that anyone walking near the station will figure out that riders are being searched. If I was walking towards that entrance, I would turn around and use one of my 2-3 other methods. Unfortunately, according to Taborn, my action (to avoid a disgusting, illegal search) will be seen as "suspicious" and I may be "observed".

Security is important but putting more law enforcement officers on trains is a better deterrent. Taborn's flippant response to a legitimate concern raised at the Metro Riders' Advisory Council shows his lack of respect for the persons who choose to spend their money (or their fed subsidies) riding public transportation.

The ACLU suit is an attempt to save the Metro from itself. If the Board approves this crazy plan, I will be giving up my sweet subsidy from the Feds and drive in. I cannot be the only person who feels this way.

Posted by: nidomhnail | March 4, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey ACLU forget Metro, go after the TSA full body scans and pat downs. At least Metro doesn't screen all passengers.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | March 4, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

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