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Re: MTA training (Re: Called A ''Terrorist'' By A T/O)

Posted by Brighton Private on Wed Dec 12 16:25:43 2007, in response to Re: MTA training (Re: Called A ''Terrorist'' By A T/O), posted by SelkirkTMO on Wed Dec 12 08:35:18 2007.

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This is one of those ideas that sounds good for about the first 10 seconds. Then you consider:

1. If the MTA is going to issue these permits, what kind of background check would you be authorizing? How far would the MTA go before it felt comfortable saying you are OK? Do you really think citizens should be expected to waive their privacy rights so that the government can, in effect, give you a security clearance just so you won't be hassled for exercising your First Amendment rights?

2. If photography were really a threat, and if the card would give would-be terrorists a way to avoid police hassles, wouldn't terrorists want one? Wouldn't that force the MTA to do a really intrusive background check? If they didn't do a full background check, of what value would issuing the permit be to the authorities?

3. If having a card means you're presumptively ok, would not having a card mean you're presumptively not ok? Would someone without a card automatically be suspect and be routinely hassled, or worse?

4. The courts have emphatically said that the First Amendment prohibits the government from setting up a licensing program for journalists (see Lowe v. SEC, 472 U.S. 181 (1985)). The principle is that once a constitutional right is subjected to a government approval process, it is no "right" at all. What you're proposing doesn't go that far, I realize, because theoretically those without cards would still be allowed to photograph, but it gets way too close for me.

Why should we voluntarily surrender or place limits on important rights just because the authorities are hassling us? I think it's a really bad idea.

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