Subway searches are too random to be effective

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Sunday, March 13, 2011; 8:02 PM

The Post was correct to note that Metro is a potential terrorist target ["Metro's bag checks," editorial, March 8]. And random bag checks at bus stops and rail stations may be constitutional. In view of these facts, The Post called these searches a "necessary nuisance."

Nuisance, yes. Necessary? Well, that would depend on whether such random searches have the potential to actually deter plotters. I cannot understand why security personnel are so convinced of this. Unlike searches at airports and sports venues, these transit searches are random, i.e., "occasional." I suspect that a plotter planning an attack at a particular place and time would proceed anyway, on the assumption that the odds of encountering a bag check were low. And what if the terrorist stumbles upon a search? In most cases, it seems to me, he would simply avoid the search site and in most places do so without exhibiting suspicious behavior that would attract the attention of surveillance personnel.

There are measures that security personnel can take to reduce the risk of an attack, but random searches do not appear to meet any reasonable test of effectiveness. Sure, if I should be subjected to one, it is likely I would submit, since failing to do so not only would cancel my travel plans but could be interpreted as "suspicious behavior" with who knows what possible adverse consequences for me. Meanwhile, I would have the rare opportunity to watch my tax dollars being wasted.

Brian A. Roman, Brentwood


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