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May 25, 2008

Metro Harassment Update

I apologize for the lack of posts. I've been too busy to post anything.

Via Grim, a not unexpected update on that Metro harassment item I posted the other day. Interestingly enough, I never heard anything back from the calls I placed the other day, despite the fact that they took my number and assured me they'd get back to me with a response. That doesn't exactly encourage one to take the time to check up on these stories:

Pajamas Media contacted the Federal Transit Administration Wednesday, and Velvet Snow, spokeswoman for the FTA, stated categorically that the agency never issued such a memo.

Lt. Col. George Wright of Army Public Affairs noted that a similar email was circulated internally by the Army Material Command at nearby Fort Belvoir, VA. When asked to provide information about specific incidents of verbal abuse, Army LTC Lee M. Packnett stated that “none of the messages sent included definitive information about incidents that occurred. They were sent for soldiers to be aware of and to be vigilant in their travels to and from work via the Metro rail system.”

Then there’s the problem surrounding the number of incidents that occurred. Washington D.C. Metro officials could only point to the existence of a single episode as the probable trigger of the memo.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) spokesperson Angela Gates stated that there was precisely one reported verbal assault against a female soldier on the Yellow Line recently. A female soldier was verbally harassed, left the train, was followed, re-boarded the train, and reported the incident to MTA Police once she arrived home. Gates was unable to confirm that the verbal abuse was related to anti-war sentiment, and no other reports have been filed with the MTA to substantiate insinuations of multiple incidents.

There is no pattern of verbal abuse against uniformed Department of Defense personnel in the DC Metro system. The memo sent to Department of Defense security managers was authored at a high level, and exaggerated the number of verbal assaults from one confirmed event into an apparent outbreak, while attempting to shift authorship to another federal agency.

At any rate, while it's heartening that it didn't turn out to be true, it's a bit disturbing (though probably not surprising) to see a memo containing false information and overblown security recommendations sent out. I struggled with the decision over whether to link to the items, but my gut feeling was that either way, it was something that merited attention.

It certainly got it :p

One more way in which the Internet performs a useful audit function.

Posted by Cassandra at May 25, 2008 07:45 AM

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I'm sure you still ride the Metro occasionally in DC. Last year (only 14 days left in my little "vacation" filled with "absurd benefits") I rode the Metro all the time to work in the building, never once did I see anyone have the nerve to say something rude to someone in uniform.

Peace thru Firepower,

Posted by: Sluggo at May 25, 2008 02:11 PM

I would not have believed it were possible at all Sluggo, if it were not for things I've heard of that have happened to returning vets (and we're talking a lot worse than mere verbal harassment). I had a very hard time believing anyone would do some of the things I heard about, and they didn't happen in the city.

So as I said, it's not something I'd rule out. However, this story did not appear to be true and so I wanted to make sure I posted an update.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 25, 2008 09:08 PM

I wonder whether those reported incidents happened in out of the way stations like Largo, Shady Grove, etc, at times of low volume use (Late at night), and not in peak times, in stations such as Crystal City. at 0830hrs, you couldn't swing a dead cat on the Orange/Blue Line in Northern Virginia without hitting someone in uniform. Not that I would propose to bring dead felines to into the Metro System at any time.

Posted by: Boquisucio at May 25, 2008 10:27 PM

But what about those that go unreported? Do they end up on Jerry Springer or Oprah?
Inquiring minds, yanno. Are their needs being met? Is there appropriate support and counseling being offered by the metro authority?


Posted by: Cricket at May 26, 2008 09:29 AM

The reason I posted the forgoing sarcasm was to point out that if in fact these uniformed personnel are being harrassed, they are big enough to ignore it and recognize a real threat when they see it.
Words have as much power as you give them. By not reporting some of the harrassment, they can and do deprive their adversaries of power.

Posted by: Cricket at May 26, 2008 12:12 PM