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Homeland Security -- Trucker Style ???

Discussion in 'Legal' started by David, Jul 4, 2004.

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  1. David

    David Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Interesting new program from the Department of Homeland Security that uses truckers to help fight terrorism.

    Part of the article from time.com:

    Eyes And Ears Of The Nation

    Thousands of truckers, bus drivers and rest-stop workers are being enlisted to spot terrorists. Is this comforting news?


    I SPY: “From trucks to taxis, school buses to NASCAR.†That’s the exuberant motto of a program to train drivers like Larry Lawson, of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority, to identify terrorists

    On a blazing hot morning last week, 75 men and women of the highway — bus drivers, truckers and van operators — convened at a nondescript office building in Little Rock, Ark., to be trained as terrorist hunters. The Department of Homeland Security this year gave $19.3 million to the American Trucking Associations, which is based in Alexandria, Va., to recruit a volunteer "army" called Highway Watch. So far, 10,000 truckers have signed on to become amateur sleuths. Over the next year, the goal is to add tollbooth workers, rest-stop employees and construction crews, creating a corps of 400,000 people drawn from every state.

    Waiting for the training to begin, Jo Anna Cartwright, who manages the rural public bus system in northern Arkansas, said she had not yet encountered any terrorists in her job, as far as she knew. "We got a terroristic phone call the other day," she said, "but it turned out it was just the boyfriend of an employee." Her bus drivers pay special attention to a gentleman from Afghanistan who recently married a regular rider, she said. Cartwright had come to the training to learn what else she could do.

    The tutorial was led by Jeffrey Beatty, a security consultant, formerly of the FBI and CIA. He started by showing clips of alQaeda training videos. "They are out there training for operations in the U.S. homeland. Make no mistake about it," he said, warning that Little Rock cannot afford to be complacent. "You're getting a presidential library here — for a President who launched cruise missiles against al-Qaeda," Beatty said, referring to Bill Clinton. There are not enough police and federal agents to protect all of America, but transportation workers could be a "force multiplier," he said. "We want to turn the hunters into the hunted," he intoned for the first of four times that day.

    So how exactly does one spot a terrorist on the highway? Members of Highway Watch are given a secret toll-free number to report any suspicious behavior — people taking pictures of bridges, for example, or passengers handling heavy backpacks with unusual care. "We want to hear from you when something just doesn't look right," Beatty said. "Say you're out at a truck stop and you see someone hanging out near your truck, wearing a jacket. Maybe it's too hot out for a jacket. Go back inside, alert someone and check him out through the window."

    But — and this is important — Highway Watch members are just messengers, not superheroes, Beatty said. The hotline call center in Kentucky logs the information it receives in a database and contacts law enforcement when necessary. It usually isn't. Of the 200 or so calls that come in each month, only about 10 have anything to do with suspected terrorism. Most callers report abandoned vehicles, stranded motorists or roadway hazards. Highway Watch members are instructed to look for certain kinds of behavior — not certain kinds of people. "Profiling is bad. Bad, bad, bad," Beatty said.

    Still, listening to his ominous warnings and the bravado that comes easily to the former Delta Force commander, one has no difficulty imagining an empowered civilian getting carried away. And Americans generally have not reacted well to institutionalized nosiness. In 2002 the Justice Department proposed something called Operation TIPS, which would have encouraged not just truckers but also cable installers and mail carriers, among others, to report suspicious behavior. But before the program could begin, it was buried in opposition from the left and the right. Americans did not want to become a "nation of snitches," as the libertarian Cato Institute put it.

    From the Jul. 05, 2004 issue of TIME magazine

    Good idea or not?

    I, for one, am not sure!

    :uhoh: :scrutiny: :uhoh:

    Are there any THR members who are truckers?

    What do you think?
  2. DTLoken

    DTLoken member

    Jan 2, 2003
    And down the road to 1984 we go.
  3. grislyatoms

    grislyatoms Member

    May 31, 2004
    My thoughts exactly, although you summed them up perfectly, DTLOKEN whereas I probably would have taken a paragraph to say as much.
  4. dev_null

    dev_null Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Austin TX
    I'm not sure how this equates to Orwell. The Vaterlandsekuritatsburo, yes. Patriot I & II, yes. But in a way, the idea of recruiting the public to keep an eye out for bad guys -- IF it's not just another "spy on your neighbor" program but a real "watch for saboteurs" deal -- seems closer to the kind of civilian mobilization I'd rather see than yet more hordes of ninja-clad federal agents who deem themselves above the "niceties" of the Constitution. And at least they're getting some training rather than that creepy "soccer moms, report any behavior that look suspicious to you" stuff I see on highway "information" signs.

    - 0 -
  5. benewton

    benewton Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    New Hampshire
    True, but then it's government training....
  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Nevada, escaped from the PDRK via Idaho.
    Oh boy. We're in for a whole new batch of CB trucking songs.

  7. Skibane

    Skibane Member

    May 11, 2003
    San Antonio
    Ah, yes, the old vigilante cliche...

    This isn't anything new. As a group, truckers, utility workers and mail men have probably been responsible for reporting more crime, accidents and suspicious activity than the rest of the population combined. The fact that a miniscule fraction of these folks is now receiving some informal training certainly doesn't mean that 1984 is right around the corner.
  8. Sergeant Bob

    Sergeant Bob Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    The Swamps of Goldwater, MI
    I can't speak for the utility workers and mail carriers but, if it's happening and there are trucks around, a trucker probably knows about it ( this includes Johnny and Suzy "doin' the wild thing in the back seat while going down the road ;) )
    If there's suspicious activity (such as, someone hanging around a bridge for no apparent good reason) or a crime in commision, there's a good chance a trucker has called it in.
    The Beltway Snipers were fingered by a truck driver (Ron Lance) by the way.
    I myself have gotten quite a few drunk/sleepy/dangerous drivers off the road, reported a few accidents (and I've seen alot all of the above).
    All this program will do is give them a central number to call and a few tips on what to look for.

    1984? If this is someone's definition of 1984 then it's too late. It's been going on for years. As Skibane said, this is only a miniscule fraction of the drivers on the road (there are millions ), and it is not the road to tyranny
  9. Matt1911

    Matt1911 Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    It sounds like a updated version of the cival defense watching the skys in world war 2(?). I don't see a thing wrong with that.

    Duck and cover:D
  10. Black Snowman

    Black Snowman Member

    Sep 3, 2003
    Kansas City, KS
    I was a trucker for a whole month and a half but I'd trust them to be effective and unlikely to infringe on the privacy or other individual rights of the people. They are already a bit of a watchdog group and look out for each other at the very least.

    It's dangrous out there in more ways than one and I don't see this running out of control as easily as some of the unconstitutional hogwash that's made it through DC.
  11. Waitone

    Waitone Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    The Land of Broccoli and Fingernails
    Following 911 we were told the best thing we could do for homeland security was to spend money. Arrogant, condescending, elitist. . . . . if ever there was such. We were told to lean forward on the balls of our feet when the alert level increased.

    Meanwhile not one positive suggestion can out of DHS as to what could be done if we actually witnessed a terror event unfolding. I posited a scenario where I'm witnessing a group of perps climbing out of a van preparing a shoulder launched missile somewhere at the end of a runway. Who would I call?

    At least DHS has granted us taxpaying serfs a super duper secret telephone number. Not for everyone mind you, just the elect.

    A teenie, tiny step in the right direction.
  12. madcowburger

    madcowburger member

    May 15, 2004
    Where the buses don't run
    Be on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious, like someone wearing a jacket when you think it's too hot for a jacket. He might be carrying a concealed weapon, and we can't have that. Turn him in.

    Whether I'm actually carrying a gun or not (and I seldom do anymore), I wear some type of "covering garment" (a photojournalist vest, a sort of thin, light "safari jacket" sort of thing, or just a big loose shirt with the tail out) almost all the time, year-around, regardless of temperature. I refuse to wear a fanny pack "holster." I hate those things. There has to be a really compelling reason for me to *not* wear a "covering garment," and the weather is not it.

    I can just imagine what-all sorts of things all the informers will find suspicious. I have personally found people in minivans or talking on cell phones suspicious for some time now. From now on I'll consider pizza delivery boys, cable installers, bus drivers, and truckers talking on CB radios suspicious. I'll suspect them of being informers and Quislings.

    I've never had a cell phone. Whenever I see someone talking on one, for an instant they look to me like those aliens in that movie _They Live_. Too bad I'm nothing like Roddy Piper.

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