My friends have been polite. I don’t need to be. I’m just a citizen. I will be blunt.
The random, suspicionless bag search program Chief Taborn and GM Sarles are conducting isn’t just unconstitutional — it’s stupid. And it’s not just stupid — it’s stupid by definition. The Fourth Amendment is not an inconvenience or a luxury to law enforcement — it is wisdom itself. What unconstitutional program of picking a few people out at random for no reason — no. reason. — from tens of thousands of riders will ever, ever work? Why would that ever be better than insisting on police having a reason to search a bag?
We want police work — not guess work. We’re not against security — we’re against pretend security. When police stop wasting their time with toys and make believe, we will be safer.
Yet as stupid as this program is, it’s worse to stand aside and ignore your duty to stop it. A few weeks ago, I watched several new WMATA board members sworn in. To my surprise, it turned out that they swear an oath to the Constitution. Yet a few weeks later, the very person who swore them in — and who considers himself a civil liberties supporter — declared that though he believed the bag searches were unconstitutional, he would not oppose them. This was considered thoughtful and eloquent.
It was neither. It was and is a dereliction of duty for the WMATA board of directors to let this program stand. But if they will not end it, we must.