The TSA yesterday denied employing an unmanned surveillance drone at the December 30th Vikings-Packers game at the Metrodome in Minnesota, dismissing online photographs of the flying craft.
As we reported earlier in the week, Attorney Nathan M. Hansen took photographs of the spy drone and posted them to his twitter feed following the game.
The images revealed a small drone with four rotors hovering high above the crowds.
The TSA’s blogger Bob Burns picked up on the story and posted the following statement Wednesday:
“After a drone was spotted at a Vikings game, rumors have been “flying” around that it was a TSA drone. I just wanted to take this quick opportunity to say that TSA does not use drones. I have been accused of “droning” on and on before, but other than that, we’re drone free.”
Of course, it is not beyond any realms of possibility that the TSA would employ such devices, however, given that police departments all across the nation, as well as other federal agencies under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security are actively deploying drones in US skies.
Commenters on the TSA blog were also quick to point out that Hansen’s photographs included TSA agents standing around the Metrodome fan plaza on the west side.
The TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams, or VIPR teams, illustrated that fact that the widely loathed federal agency continues to metastasize into an occupational security force.
At time of writing, Bob Burns nor any other TSA source has confirmed that these agents were present at the game.
Last year, the NFL announced that it would phase in TSA-style pat downs of fans entering stadiums. The Department of Homeland Security has also worked closely with the NFL on numerous occasions to promote its “See Something, Say Something” snitch campaign.
As we have exhaustively documented, the TSA has long since expanded outside of airports, and is now in the process of transforming itself into a security force that will have a presence at virtually every major public venue, from sports events, to political functions, to music concerts.
Before the February 2012 Super Bowl, the TSA attracted derision for a program which trained thousands of fast food sellers and other vendors to spot terrorists under the “First Observer” program. VIPR teams were also out in force at the stadium and nearby transportation hubs.
Earlier this month, we reported on how the TSA was seeking permission from the Office of Management and Budget to conduct “security assessments” on highways as well as at 140 other public transportation hubs, including bus depots and train stations.
Last year, the TSA was responsible for over 9,000 checkpoints across the United States, a number set to increase thanks to the agency’s bloated budget and its expansion beyond anything vaguely related to transportation. Since its inception in the US after 9/11, the TSA has grown in size exponentially. The agency was slammed in a recent congressional report for wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on security theater.
One such checkpoint involving TSA agents took place last year in Tennessee, where Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams checked trucks at five weigh stations and two bus stations in the state, as well as making trucks pass through x-ray scanners. TSA officials also used the checkpoint to try and recruit truck drivers to become citizen snitches under the First Observer Highway Security Program.