Random searches on the New York Subway

In response to bombs galore in London’s tube and bus system, the powers that be in New York have decided to react by approving random searches of all commuters in the subway system, on buses, and on the LIRR.


Is there any specific threat to the city? NO! Has the silly color-coded threat meter changed for New York? NO! IT’S BEEN ORANGE FOR FOUR YEARS! Will this do anything at all to stop someone determined to bomb the subway? NO FUCKING WAY!

We’re talking the New York subway here folks. There are plenty of trains that run ABOVE GROUND so getting onto those tracks is fucking easy.

Hell, any bomber worth his salt can just carry a pair of bolt-cutters and get onto a train through an entrance that’s been chained shut, thereby avoiding a pre-turnstile search!

On the other hand, random searches of bags, trousers, and briefcases will not be enough to stop any given bomber, because when the cops ask to look in his bag, he’ll just BLOW HIMSELF UP! Or people like myself will refuse to be searched, and have to get off the fucking train-- at which point I’ll transfer to a bus, or go to another nearby subway and take a train with no cops around!

Morons. Feckwits. You’ve been in the heat too long.

Ain’t there some saying about those who would sacrifice liberty in exchange for slavery and security?

So, you got a better suggestion? What, exactly, would you do if you were Mayor of NY or the Police Commissioner?

As a regular NYC subway rider, I’ll happily give up my precious right not to have anyone look into my briefcase if it makes even one bomber think twice.

Except for none of those things have been the the patterns established by the London bombings.

I have to side with Eve, even if I really don’t like it. Mayor Bloomberg needs to look like he is doing something preventative, and when you come up with a workable, better idea, I’m all ears and ready to support it.

I remember all the searches after Sept. 11 made me cut down on my porn buying.

Chalk me up as another regular subway rider who has no problem with it. I frankly have no idea how this subway hasn’t had something blow up yet. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that to do so, with current security, would be a simple task.

I’m an olive-skinned male in his late 20s. I’m sure I have a number of searches ahead of me, and they’ll make me feel better about riding the subway.

Good for you, that’s the spirit! I read about a Mideastern-looking man today in London being stopped and searched, and he shrugged, “they’re doing their job.” I probably won’t be searched that much, as there’s not a big history of middle-aged dowagers with exploding pearls, but I’d be happy to be patted down.

I was in D.C. for 10 days recently and rode the subway constantly. I’ll be there again at least twice over the next few months. I LOVE the subways, but I kept thinking constantly about how easy it would be (especially for somebody who isn’t afraid to die) to really mess some shit up in one- tons of places to leave a briefcase bomb or toss an incendiary just before the train arrives or even just whip out an Uzi and start shooting. Since metal-detectors or massive increase in security officers aren’t an option, I will gladly submit to searches of any kind to feel a bit safer. (I would even up the ante by having a computerized random search generator- not every xth number of person, perhaps, but one that automatically searches numbers 259, 1,321, 2,934. etc., whether they’re wearing a kheffiya and bisht or whether they’re a 92 year old Chinese lady.

I have a problem with it. It is a soothing panacea for the masses. It is look busy work. It will not stop any bomber and I don’t know why all these smart people are fooling themselves into believing it will.

Do you all seriously think that this invasion of your privacy is going to stop a suicide bomber? Do you honestly think this will make terrorists think twice? How exactly will random searches of transit riders stop a suicide bomber? Really, I’d like to know. I’d like to feel all warm and secure knowing that this breach of my personal space is saving me.

I don’t know how familiar you are with the NYC subway, but there are people carrying all manner of boxes, suitcases and parcels. I’m not at all familiar with bomb-making, or how large a good-sized bomb is, but I can’t imagine someone carrying one, concealed in a suitcase, would stand out at all.

A bomb going off on the A train speeding between 59th and 125th would kill a whole lot of people. Not to mention that in NYC, the subway is not a luxury. Nobody could get to work without it. If it is shut down, much of the financial system of this country is in jeopardy. Currently, there seems to be absolutely nothing stopping this from happening.

If a policeman politely searches me every single day, I will leave my apartment two minutes earlier, and not miss a beat. And, yeah, I do think it could do some good. Is it going to make it impossible for a bomb to get into the subway? Of course not. But, that’s no reason to just do nothing.

Again: you got a better idea? Something specific? Get in line behind Barbarian, hon, and let us know exactly what it is. Till then, yeah, I do think random searches will be a helluva lot more effective than nothing.

Do you object to opening your bag when you leave the library to show you’re not walking out with stolen books? I do that every time I go to the library, and I hardly feel like I’m in a Siberian prison camp.

Why does one have to have a better idea to reject a useless one?

Seems like an inconvenient panacea to me, too. They’ll figure out a way to wire a bomb inside a suit. Still, I don’t know what else the city is supposed to do.

Have they promised not to arrest people carrying around large quantities of cash, sex appliances, or books on someone’s watch list?

How can you call it useless? You have to at least acknowledge that if a guy has a bomb, there is a chance that a cop will search him and find it. We may differ on the probability of it, but you can’t say that there is no chance.

Thus, this is at least incrementally better than nothing.

Because whining “It won’t wooooork! And it’s violating my civil riiiiights!” is neither productive nor attractive. You all think it’s a lousy, ineffective idea? Fine. Come up with something better, or shaddup.

A better idea would be to not go looking into random peoples shit for no reason. Just because I can’t think of a better idea doesn’t make this idea a good one. You haven’t explained to me how this invasion of my privacy will prevent a terrorist attack.

They search your bag for books in the library because you have just been in the library where you might have stolen a book. This analogy would work if instead of “library” you said “bomb factory”. See, then it makes sense.

And, although I don’t complain when they check my bag at the library, any and all security guards better watch their fingers in Target if they get anywhere near my purse.

This "they have to do something sentiment is the most ridiculous shit I ever heard. Yes, let’s do something intrusive THAT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK. It won’t make the Eves of this world any safer but at least they’ll feel safer.

You don’t think they have to do something? And how, pray tell, do you know “it doesn’t fucking work” when they haven’t tried it yet?

I suggest you try a pre-wash to unbunch those panties of yours.

Something that doesn’t work 100% of the time is not something “THAT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK.” I’m pretty sure that a bomb could still be smuggled onto a plane, but that doesn’t mean we should pack up the security system there.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you had a bomb in a backpack, and were planning to hop on the most convenient subway, ride it into the busiest station in New York on its busiest hour, and detonate it.

Let’s then say there there’s a cop who stops you on the steps of this first, non-busy station. He checks your bag. Now, if he arrests you, no deaths. If you panic and blow yourself up right there and kill 10 people, that’s probably a lot less than if there was NO cop, you rode into the busiest station and then killed 100.

Chances are slim, but they’re better than if there were NO searches.