Amtrak asks TSA to start screening rail passengers

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However it was not due to the derailment that they can no longer use those tracks.
Indeed, that segment was slated for downgrade for quite a while. I think the effect of the sabotage was minimal if any at all.
Katrina may not be the reason the Sunset East was abandoned but it is reasonable to assume it helped provide cover for such a decision. It is similarly reasonable to assume the Palo Verde attack helped UP abandon that part of the Phoenix line. Or we can presume that everything that happens to Amtrak is a series of unfathomable coincidences.
 

jis

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Katrina may not be the reason the Sunset East was abandoned but it is reasonable to assume it helped provide cover for such a decision. It is similarly reasonable to assume the Palo Verde attack helped UP abandon that part of the Phoenix line. Or we can presume that everything that happens to Amtrak is a series of unfathomable coincidences.
I was merely stating the facts about the split of traffic between the main line through Maricopa and the already significantly less used branch to Phoenix. I was merely stating my assumption based on that fact.

One thing worth noting is that unlike the Sunset Limited East discontinuance in the form of no restoration after Katrina, the Palo Verde derailment was in October 95 and the Sunset Limited reroute via Maricopa happened in November 96 according to Warner's tome on Amtrak trains.
 
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neroden

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But we aren't talking about unreasonable searches and seizures. It's a list of names. That's all it is. A list of names.
In other words, everyone with a common name gets harassed. That is what the utterly worthless "watchlist" has been used for in the past. This is why it needs to be eliminated entirely.

I have no problem with checking for people who have actual warrants out for them or stuff like that. But any corrupt or irresponsible government official can put a name on the "we will terrorize you" watchlist, and then anyone who happens to have the same name gets terrorized by the government. This has to stop.
 

neroden

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The scenario of a terrorist placing a bomb aboard an NEC train and getting off in Newark and then setting the bomb to go off in a crowded Penn Station worries me. A terrorist would obtain a false ID and then get legitimate credit cards based on the false ID. Then they use the app to purchase a ticket and then board the train. Since his luggage is not screened, there is no way to prevent him from getting on a train with a bomb and then getting off the train and leaving the bomb to explode after he has long disappeared. IMHO the rail system in the US is highly vulnerable. But so is the system in Europe. Not sure what could be done.

The ID process on airlines is also supported by all luggage being screened for explosives before it is taken on board the aircraft. So IMHO, this mode of transportation is somewhat better protected than rail.

I'll be blunt: since the Madrid train bombing, actual terrorist groups have realized there's no point in attacking trains from the inside: they just don't hurt very many people or cause much of a political reaction, and political reaction is of course the goal of terrorists. Train bombings are not a real threat because *the terrorist groups have given up on it*.

Terrorist groups have more effect by bombing supermarkets. So unless we're going to have intrusive police-state nonsense at every supermarket, there's no point in doing it on the train.

Now, the dispatching centers and key trackside stuff need to be secured, because a lot more damage could be done there. But that's different.
 

neroden

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Yes, I can see this happening especially with this line from one of the articles that was also mentioned on the NBC evening news last night: "The biggest union of Amtrak employees, Transportation Communications International, urged the U.S. government to start screening rail passengers against Homeland Security's no-fly list after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump supporters. The union's statement also called for passengers whose names match the watchlist to be denied the ability to purchase Amtrak tickets." Lester of NBC pointed out that Washington Union Station is very close to where the action was.

This needs to be stopped immediately. The watchlist is a known pile of crap and this would merely harass a bunch of people who happen to have common names.

I hope Amtrak management is trying to demonstrate to TCI that the watchlist is a pile of crap. Showing that it generates a ton of false positives would be one way to demonstrate that to the union.

That would be one reason for preparing a report.
 

jis

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I have also been curious about what proportion of that random list of names have a Redress Number attached to them. It is the ultimate make busy bureaucratic act, one of many "Oh we are doing something" feel good things which has zero chance of being successful since a name does not really convey core identity of anyone. More people than you can shake a stick at have multiple names that they can use as convenient, and specially someone who is upto no good is hardly likely to remain married to a single name. Hope it dies a natural death after the analysis.

Now, if they could figure out a way of keeping simply unhinged travelers who need to go through social toilet training from mucking up everyone's travel experience within their neighborhood, away from the trains in addition to planes, that would be something. I mean those that throw a hissyfit on a plane for no apparent reason or some absurd reason, and start beating up the first person they see in front of them, and such.
 

Eric in East County

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Like any other government bureaucracy, TSA has always been looking for ways to expand its size and power, so I’m not surprised that it wants to screen rail passengers, too. What does surprise me is that the politicians haven’t yet gone along with this plan, even if it is highly impractical. (Perhaps they are waiting for just the right incident; one that will leave us all begging to be screened by TSA agents!)

As has been pointed out, passenger trains themselves are not high priority terrorist targets. Using a train to smuggle a WMD across country and into a major city would certainly be a more practical objective for a terrorist group.

If information is uncovered that some terrorist group is indeed planning to use an Amtrak train as part of a larger plot, than I have no objection to government agencies taking whatever steps are necessary to put a stop to it. Even so, I hope that this will never involve the inconveniences and indignities that airline passengers have to put up with.
 

Everydaymatters

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In other words, everyone with a common name gets harassed. That is what the utterly worthless "watchlist" has been used for in the past. This is why it needs to be eliminated entirely.

I have no problem with checking for people who have actual warrants out for them or stuff like that. But any corrupt or irresponsible government official can put a name on the "we will terrorize you" watchlist, and then anyone who happens to have the same name gets terrorized by the government. This has to stop.
I don't know for a fact, but if a person is stopped because their name is on a watchlist, wouldn't they be questioned and ask to be shown their ID? I mean, if I was stopped because my name was on a watchlist, I would expect to have them check my ID which, in my case, would show they have the wrong person. I don't believe I would be terrorized. I do believe I would be released.
 

Ryan

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What happens if your name is the same name as someone that has done something to be on the list? Your ID is going to show that you're "Betty Normal" and "Betty Normal" is on the list. Congrats, you're hosed.

Should our Betty White be not allowed to travel because of the misdeeds of the other more famous Betty White (may she rest in peace)?
 
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AFS1970

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I do think the no-fly list was initially well intentioned. The big problem was bad data. I know that in the days after the attacks in 2001, the names of the 19 murderers were put into a commonly used law enforcement database along with a few others. In a few cases we didn't have complete information, so a cleverly unique fake date of birth was used that was unlikely to be somebody else's real birthday. The end result is an ID that cannot be confirmed easily. So, in the case of the couple that was flying with their infant, who had the same name but obviously not the same date of birth as a person on the list, you get a hit that take longer to confirm than the airline is willing to hold the flight. Now the airline should use common sense and realize the baby is not the wanted person, but that's not the way bureaucracy works.
I know someone who was on a different federal watch list, that was implemented locally. The federal agency notified local agencies who flagged the name and address. He later sued to get removed from the federal list, which he was able to do, but nobody ever notified the local agencies and while he moved out of town years ago, his address is still flagged.
 

jis

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What happens if your name is the same name as someone that has done something to be on the list? Your ID is going to show that you're "Betty Normal" and "Betty Normal" is on the list. Congrats, you're hosed.

Should our Betty White be not allowed to travel because of the misdeeds of the other more famous Betty White (may she rest in peace)?
There is screwy process for getting a so called Redress Number that allows you to continue to use your name and still be able to fly, i.e. there is a path to unhose self. I understand it is a pain in the butt.

In anticipation, my parents thought they were giving me an uncommon name. But as it turns out there is another one in Canada who spells his name exactly as I do, and we keep getting mixed up on the internet 🤷‍♂️ Fortunately neither of us have gotten ourselves on the no fly list yet.
 

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OK, just as a fun aside from this serious discussion, I saw a reference to this issue on TV.
I was watching the SyFy series Resident Alien, which is about an alien hiding on earth as a human. This season the alien and a human friend flew from Colorado to NYC but run into government agents trying to find the alien. So, to get back home they take the train. The characters discuss that they could not fly because the TSA wouldn't let them fly with the alien egg they were carrying.
 

neroden

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The "watchlist" is *literally just a list of names*. It's not names/photos/birthdates/identifying marks like an actual police wanted poster would be. That's one of the reasons it needs to be abolished. The "You happen to share your name with someone on the list" thing is happening *constantly*.
 

Everydaymatters

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What happens if your name is the same name as someone that has done something to be on the list? Your ID is going to show that you're "Betty Normal" and "Betty Normal" is on the list. Congrats, you're hosed.

Should our Betty White be not allowed to travel because of the misdeeds of the other more famous Betty White (may she rest in peace)?
You should know that the two Bettys are pretty tough and can handle most situations peacefully. :)
 

nti1094

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I don't know for a fact, but if a person is stopped because their name is on a watchlist, wouldn't they be questioned and ask to be shown their ID? I mean, if I was stopped because my name was on a watchlist, I would expect to have them check my ID which, in my case, would show they have the wrong person. I don't believe I would be terrorized. I do believe I would be released.
But how would your ID show they have the wrong person? If anything, it would prove your name matches the name on the list and you might not be allowed to board to even be detained!
 

Everydaymatters

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But how would your ID show they have the wrong person? If anything, it would prove your name matches the name on the list and you might not be allowed to board to even be detained!
With an ounce of intelligence, Homeland Security would surely set it up so that if your name, DOB, address, picture, etc., on your driver's license or passport did not match up, you would have no problem and would go on your way.
 

AFS1970

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Much of how it works depends on what information they have on the person they are trying to catch. Your license will have you date of birth and your address, your passport will have your citizenship, however if those factors are unknown for the suspect, which is likely the case if you only matched by name, then they are not great at proving you are not the bad guy.
I have no doubt that TSA or HSI will eventually figure out you are not who they are looking for, the real question is, will it happen before you miss your train? And having done so, will they alter the list, so it doesn't keep happening to you?
 

jis

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Much of how it works depends on what information they have on the person they are trying to catch. Your license will have you date of birth and your address, your passport will have your citizenship, however if those factors are unknown for the suspect, which is likely the case if you only matched by name, then they are not great at proving you are not the bad guy.
I have no doubt that TSA or HSI will eventually figure out you are not who they are looking for, the real question is, will it happen before you miss your train? And having done so, will they alter the list, so it doesn't keep happening to you?
The Passport will have DOB too.

At least as used in the airline industry the no fly list has a procedure to get yourself off of it. One can provide certain documentation and get a so called Redress Number, which will get you past the list even if your name appears on it. But since there is no way to know a priori that you are on the list, one is faced with being blocked at least once before one gets an opportunity to get a Redress Number.

All in all it sucks, and it is doubtful that it actually catches too many determined terrorists.
 

hlcteacher

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I don’t, and neither do they it seems. It’s just another infringement on our liberties and another indignity innocent people mousy suffer. I mind my own business and expect the same of others.
with "liberty" comes responsibility not "infringement"
 

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As implemented the no-fly list is an opaque mess of arbitrary infringement that would presumably fail a reasonable constitutional check if we had a rational justice system. On the other hand if you have convictions for being violent in transit (including serious road rage) or traveling to participate in violent events then I think keeping you on a restricted travel list might be acceptable so long as the rules for being added and removed are reasonable and known to all parties. It should never be possible to prevent someone from traveling freely just because their name may resemble someone who could have committed a crime somewhere in the world under vague or unknown circumstances.
 
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Your license will have you date of birth and your address, your passport will have your citizenship

Actually, if I recall my experience getting my REAL ID drivers license, they required I bring a passport, and it seems they offer different licenses to US citizens vs. resident aliens. I would imagine that my citizenship status is in my state's motor vehicle department's database.
I have no doubt that TSA or HSI will eventually figure out you are not who they are looking for, the real question is, will it happen before you miss your train? And having done so, will they alter the list, so it doesn't keep happening to you?
Some people will never know -- One thing that I've observed about people working in security and law enforcement is that not only do they think they're doing God's work, but that what they're doing is so important that the rules don't apply to them. Or else they design the rules so that outsiders can't figure out how decisions are made. And the political leaders who are supposed to provide oversight are too afraid of being labeled "soft on crime" or "soft on terrorism" to do their oversight job.
 
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