In one of the least shocking revelations since Ricky Martin announced he was gay, files found in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that Al Qaeda has considered targeting American trains. Though unsurprising, the find has returned some attention to the state of our rail security, which is that it basically doesn’t exist. If a terrorist wanted to bring a backpack full of explosives onto an Amtrak train, he pretty much could do it at any time. And while nobody is suggesting that Amtrak passengers should have to pass through security checkpoints like the ones we have at airports, it probably couldn’t hurt to prohibit known or suspected terrorists from boarding trains at the very least.
That’s the proposal from Chuck Schumer, who suggested yesterday that the “no-fly” list be expanded to trains in the form of a “no-ride” list. This isn’t exactly a novel idea, actually: According to MSNBC, “The September 11 Commission recommended in 2004 that the government check travelers’ names against terror watch lists before they board passenger trains or cruise ships.” Although such a list might just funnel the terrorists into the New York City subway system, which we ride every day … so, uh, on second thought, this seems like government overreach. Leave us alone, Big Brother!