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Former White House security exec urges more subway searches

(The Associated Press circulated the following story on November 7.)

NEW YORK -- Former White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke says the random search by police of bags on New York subways is a program that should be copied in other cities.

Terrorists who plan attacks with multiple bombs set to go off at the same time rely on the knowledge that they will not encounter surprises by police, Clarke said last week in a deposition for a federal court case challenging the search program.

"They rehearse that, they train it, they do dry runs," Clarke said in response to questions posed by New York Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Christopher Dunn.

Clarke said he believes most U.S. mass transit systems are underprotected.

Clarke, a counterterrorism adviser to former presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, has written a book strongly criticizing the current administration for underestimating warnings about al-Qaida before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The NYCLU sued the city on behalf of several subway riders who were searched after the city instituted the new policy in following the deadly terrorist bombings in London's subway system.

The lawsuit claims the policy violates the constitutional right of people not to be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure.

Clarke's testimony was entered into the court record as U.S. District Judge Richard A. Berman conducted a two-day trial. Berman was expected to rule later this year.

Clarke said he recently told key legislators from 36 states a series of specific things they could do to enhance homeland security, including instituting a random passenger search on any subway or light rail system.

There are about 19 subway or light rail systems in the United States, Clarke said. Besides New York, he said Boston and Atlanta had occasionally tried similar searches during similar events.

Monday, November 7, 2005

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