You can’t make this up. From a story in today’s New York Times on the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s expansion beyond airports:
As hundreds of commuters emerged from Amtrak and commuter trains at Union Station on a recent morning, an armed squad of men and women dressed in bulletproof vests made their way through the crowds. The squad was not with the Washington police department or Amtrak’s police force, but was one of the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squads — VIPR teams for short — assigned to perform random security sweeps to prevent terrorist attacks at transportation hubs across the United States….
With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals. Not everyone is happy.
Later in the article:
The auditors also said that VIPR teams might not have “the skills and information to perform successfully in the mass transit environment.”
And all of this in the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, which was supposed to mark a 180-degree turn from the Republican administration of George W. Bush, and in an era of budget sequestration at that. Good luck to whomever succeeds Janet Napolitano as the next secretary of homeland security — it would be just desserts for Obama to appoint former Democratic/independent/national security senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, seeming that the creation of the sprawling department was his legislative accomplishment back in 2002.
Notch up one victory for Sir Humphrey, self-perpetuating bureaucracy and path determination.