For years, Edward Hasbrouck of “Papers Please” has been sounding the alarm over the TSA and DHS. And yours truly has published numerous articles warning the public about the continued expansion of said organizations under the guise of the War on Terror.
Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the TSA is requiring Americans to wear masks on public transit.
“Passengers will be required to wear masks on the nation’s trains, buses, airplanes and airports through Jan. 18 under a federal mandate extended Tuesday by the Biden administration.”
This is a privacy advocate’s worst fear. What was once considered “fake news” by our mass media is now a reality. This is not a CDC request, it is a TSA federal mandate, which essentially means that the TSA is now in control of America’s public transit.
How does a news agency like the San Francisco Chronicle just rubber-stamp a federal power grab of our public transit systems and simply say; “the purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation.”
Is this an admission that the TSA is controlling our public transit systems?
The TSA’s website matter-of-factly states that all transportation networks must require Americans to wear face masks.
“TSA has extended the face mask requirement for all transportation networks, including public transportation, through January 18, 2022. TSA’s initial face mask requirement went into effect on February 1, 2021 with an expiration date of May 11, 2021 and was then extended through September 13, 2021.”
A red flag in the TSA’s “mask mandate” is how they claim to have the power to fine public transit agencies that fail to comply.
“While this announcement extends the date of enforcement, all other aspects of the requirement remain unchanged, including exemptions and civil penalties.”
How can the TSA fine public transit agencies? How can the TSA essentially force public transit agencies into complying with their mandate[s]?
For years, we have watched the DHS/TSA install CCTV cameras and microphones on buses, bus stations, trains and train stations. As I wrote about in 2015, the TSA is using CCTV cameras to spy on commuters billions of times every year.
In New York, NICE has installed ten TSA/DHS surveillance cameras inside and outside their transit buses.
“Other features include: a transparent barrier by the fare box to shield drivers from attacks; 10 video cameras mounted inside and outside buses to record incidents and accidents; and lights on the sides of buses to help drivers see adjoining travel lanes better.”
All of those “public safety” CCTV cameras and surveillance systems come at a huge cost to our privacy. Public transit agencies who have used federal funds to upgrade their buses, trains etc., are obligated to obey TSA mandates under the “FTA Master Agreement.”
And what makes the FTA Master Agreement so worrisome is that it does not have an expiration date.
“This Master Agreement does not have an Expiration Date. This Master Agreement continues to apply to the Recipient and its Underlying Agreement, until modified or superseded by a more recently enacted or issued applicable federal law, regulation, requirement, or guidance, or Amendment to this Master Agreement or the Underlying Agreement.”
The “procurement” page of Section 16 (f) basically says that public transit agencies can only purchase federally approved (surveillance) buses.
“In-State Bus Dealer Restrictions. The Recipient agrees that any state law requiring buses to be purchased through in-state dealers will not apply to purchases of vehicles supported with federal assistance appropriated or made available for 49 U.S.C. chapter 53, as provided in 49 U.S.C. § 5325(i).”
And subsection L basically says that public transit agencies must agree to turn the buses, trains and stations into those federally approved buses into public surveillance platforms.
“National Intelligent Transportation Systems Architecture and Standards. The Recipient agrees to conform to the National Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Architecture requirements of 23 U.S.C. § 517(d).”
According to Section 18. “Rights in Data and Copyrights” (f), if the public catches transit agencies abusing people’s civil rights, they cannot sue the federal government for providing the surveillance equipment.
“Hold Harmless. Upon request by the Federal Government, the Recipient agrees that if it intentionally violates any proprietary rights, copyrights, or right of privacy, and if its violation under the preceding section occurs from any of the publication, translation, reproduction, delivery, use or disposition of subject data, then it will indemnify, save, and hold harmless the Federal Government against any liability.”
And if you’re thinking the FTA Master Agreement cannot possibly be used by the TSA to gain controlling interest in public transit agencies, it appears that the Feds have figured out a way to do just that.
Section 19. “Use of Real Property, Equipment, and Supplies” basically lays it out in plain English or as plain as this master agreement can.
“Federal Interest. The Recipient agrees that the Federal Government retains a federal interest in all real property, equipment, and supplies acquired or improved for use in connection with a Project (Project property) until, and to the extent that, the Federal Government removes its federal interest.”
“Satisfactory Continuing Control. It will maintain continuing control of the use of its Project property as satisfactory to FTA, which is defined as the legal assurance that Project property will remain available to be used for its originally authorized purpose throughout its useful life or until disposition.”
I am not an attorney and I admit that the legal jargon quoted in the FTA Master Agreement can be interpreted in any number of ways. But the takeaway from this story is, how the hell did the TSA manage to gain controlling interest of our public transit agencies? And why isn’t this headline news instead of just a matter-of-fact news story that has gone largely unnoticed?
Hopefully my version of a 1980s pop song will put the TSA taking control our public transit into perspective.
“You may ask yourself, well, how did we get here? Letting the days go by, letting the TSA pat me down. Into the blue again, after our civil rights are gone. Letting the TSA take our rights away, into the silent sky. You may ask yourself, where does that road lead to? You may ask yourself, am I right, or are the Feds wrong? You may say to yourself, my GOD, what have we done to America? The Feds are lying to us, Al-Qaida isn’t after us. Letting the lies go by, letting the lies go by, letting the lies go by, once in a lifetime.” (lyrics by J. Cadillic based on original lyrics by: Once in a Lifetime by the Talking Heads.)
I changed the words of the original song to get make a point: nothing good will come from letting the TSA take control of public transit.