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Court demands to know why TSA is brazenly violating federal laws and its orders

We've covered over the past few years how the U.S. Transportation Safety Agency's "nude" full-body scanners have been used and abused.  The TSA has received sweeping condemnation for the Orwellian scanner program, which many experts say cannot detect dangerous materials as well as metal detectors or traditional search techniques.

A handful of high-profile civil liberties watchdog organizations have targeted the deployment.  Perhaps the most successful was the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) lawsuit against the TSA.  While EPIC fell short of felling the nude scanners on Constitutional grounds, it did score a victory of sorts when the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the TSA violated a federal transparency law.

The court on July 15, 2011 ordered the TSA "to act properly" and rectify its breach of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) of 1946, which requires federal programs to hold public hearings.  The TSA held no such hearings with regards to the court scanners, so three judge appellate panel ordered the agency [PDF] to undergo a 90-day public comment period.

Body scanner images
The TSA has defied a court order to hold a public review its "nude" full-body scanners.
[Image Source: TSA]

So what’s problem?  The TSA never complied with the court order.  As of last month, it told Wired in an interview that the hearing and policy review had been shelved until sometime "next year".  The TSA has stated it really doesn't want to hold the public review at all, as it feels it could harm the government's capability to respond to "ever-evolving threats."

That defiant stance landed the TSA back in court this week.  In a short ruling [PDF] the federal court reiterated its demand for hearings, ordering the TSA to respond by Aug. 30.

Jim Harper, the director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, has an active petition on the new White House petition site rolled out by the Obama administration.  The petition demands the TSA follow the law and hold the public hearings.  The petition has almost 16,500 signatures and only needs about 8,500 more to reach its goal of 25,000.  Under the rules of the petition site, if the additional signature mark is met, President Barack Obama must personally respond.
 
TSA petition
A petition hopes to get President Obama to force the TSA to follow the law.

It's understandable why the TSA wouldn't want to have to answer tough questions from the public on health risks to frequent fliers and why the TSA was storing nude body scanner images, after it had promised not to.

However, even considering the controversy, it's in the relative minority.  Agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have complied with the APA rules, offering public reviews of contentious provisions such as the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards.

Sources: U.S. District Court for D.C. via Wired, Wired



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RE: The TSA is useless
By nolisi on 8/2/2012 12:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
1) Wow- um I'll leave this one alone- there are more paramilitary groups that are at least mildly racist in this country than there are terrorists.

2)The reason why the TSA was likely created was to mitigate personnel limitations in other groups. All you need is for people to identify likely suspects, not years of intelligence training.

3)More bullets != more security. It just guarantees that as soon as one person pulls a gun due to being a disgruntled passenger, more people will pull guns. Which increases the chances of a bullet going through the hull of a plane. Which increases the chances of everyone dying.

Further- I'm pretty certain airlines wouldn't allow it even if the government did anyway. Planes and flight crew are expensive. I'm guessing one of the ways they protect this massive investment is by making sure passengers don't carry even if the government doesn't.


RE: The TSA is useless
By quiksilvr on 8/2/2012 2:40:18 PM , Rating: 1
1) Agreed.
2) Disagree. We needed people with years of intelligence training 11 years ago and the TSA does not fall into this category. Having the FBI and CIA on there along with voice and fingerprint recognition makes more sense.
3) Pseudo disagree. Law abiding citizens with guns + alcohol + potential terrorist next to you = armed terrorist. Armed personnel on board, perhaps guarding the cockpit makes sense. One armed individual (preferably FBI or CIA) makes sense. I'd rather get rid of the TSA entirely and just hire 10,000 armed and trained guards so that each plane is guarded if that means no more metal detectors/dick detectors. In fact, that's probably waaay more efficient and waaay more secure.


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