The Transportation Security Administration is turning up in some unexpected places these days. The organization was originally created for airport security, but after the Madrid train bombing in 2005, special teams known as Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response were deployed. The groups are now working in train stations, highway weigh stations, sports events—even music festivals and rodeos, the New York Times reports. The VIPR program now has 37 teams made up of hundreds of employees working under a $100 million budget; in 2008, there were just 10 teams.
The trend has experts divided. "The problem with TSA stopping and searching people in public places outside the airport is that there are no real legal standards, or probable cause," says one. According to the TSA, such "special needs" searches are legitimate because they're counterterror efforts. "Our mandate is to provide security and counterterrorism operations for all high-risk transportation targets, not just airports and aviation," says TSA administrator John Pistole. A security consultant applauds the program: "They introduce an unexpected element into situations where a terrorist might be planning an attack." Click for more.