Ron Nixon reports in the New York Times:
With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals. […] T.S.A. officials [say] that the random searches are “special needs” or “administrative searches” that are exempt from probable cause because they further the government’s need to prevent terrorist attacks.
So the government can’t perform searches without probable cause… unless they want to.
It’s not completely clear from the article, but it seems like the agency’s expansion of scope may have been unilateral. The TSA started as a knee-jerk reaction to the 9/11 hijackings, and the intense focus on airports in particular is an example of skating to where the puck has been: if airports are well secured, terrorists will find something else to attack, and so maybe there really is a justification for expanded security in other places. But that expansion must be accompanied by transparency and debate and—I can’t believe I have to say this—the government can’t violate its citizens’ Constitutional rights in order to achieve it.