Subway Search Trial Underway
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan will begin hearing evidence today in a challenge to New York City’s random search of bags carried by subway riders.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of several subway riders, said in court papers filed last week that its own survey from Aug. 25 to Sept. 16 of 5,500 subway turnstile entrances found a total of 34 searches underway. It said the search program in the 468 subway stations serving 26 train lines "has no meaningful value in preventing the entry of explosive devices into the system by the terrorists the NYPD is attempting to thwart."
The City counters that random searches deter terrorism because a terrorist will never know whether he’ll be searched. The risk of being searched is so low, however, that only the most timid of terrorists would worry about detection. Balanced against their negligible benefit, the random search of bags carried by individuals who have done nothing to raise a suspicion of wrongdoing is an unnecessary offense to the privacy of passengers.
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