Transitwatch asks passengers to scope out your packages

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Kafka, public transit, surveillance state

BTC-  While there are many who express disgust with the public transit system, I feel it’s something I can live with until an electric car is ready.  In recent past I’ve discovered public transit is partial to public surveillance theatre and special pre-recorded reminders about watching for suspicious packages.

However, nothing topped the TransitWatch pamphlet I picked up today, complete with the “watchful eye” logo on it.  Blame my hypervigilance on the emergent ghosts of Kafka or today’s quest to afflict John Yoo… but all of it was so telling that I was in the right vein of conscientious objection when I saw the following text inside the transit lit.

Be on the alert for suspicious… behavior: 

[Please keep in mind it’s Summer in the Bay Area both hot and cold apply.]

If you spot any suspicious individuals engaged in  questionable activity, look for the following:

  • Visible signs of nervousness [What does one man’s nervousness look like to another?

  • Excessive sweating [How much sweat is too much sweat?

  • Sprayer bottles or aerosol canisters [I can’t mist myself down on a hot day?]

  • Inappropriate clothing that is excessively baggy or too heavy in warm weather  [What is “inappropriate” or too “baggy”? Tell that to the ghettotechnicians getting on BART in Oakland!]

Recommended course of action:

Do not confront suspicious individuals.

Contact a transit employee or the police immediately.


None of these descriptions have anything to do with an actual crime being committed, but if your neighbor doesn’t like your clothes or the fact that you broke a sweat trying to make the train on time – you might be soon be a terror watch subject.

This message was brought to you in part by a system that has been in place since 2003, based on a UK public surveillance policy of “reasonable indication” and these fine folks.

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