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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 retrospooty on 8/2/2012 1:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
I am going to go out on a limb and guess that you have absolutely zero experience in either law enforcement, or security... Or airlines.

RE: The TSA is useless
By Ringold on 8/2/2012 2:14:20 PM , Rating: 2
One point is valid: a handful of bullet holes isn't going to cause a crash, unless the pilots are incompetent or the airframe hadn't been properly maintained. If aircraft were delicate little butterflies there'd be a lot more aviation disasters.

Further, and maybe I just missed it, but you're all forgetting one obvious fact: special ammunition designed to minimize airframe damage is already used by air marshalls, and could just as easily be used by flight crew.

I have to agree that there's a small number of places where an armed populace might be more risk then its worth. 99% of places are not among them, but the inside of a plane... Most gun owners just don't put that much practice in at a range.

RE: The TSA is useless
By Reclaimer77 on 8/2/2012 2:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
One point is valid: a handful of bullet holes isn't going to cause a crash, unless the pilots are incompetent or the airframe hadn't been properly maintained. If aircraft were delicate little butterflies there'd be a lot more aviation disasters.

Okay I just need to educate some people here about something: defense ammunition.

Over-penetration is a big concern to those of us who carry concealed defense weapons. The absolute last thing you want to have happen, is a round pass through someone and injure an innocent person or cause any collateral damage. Which is why we carry "hollowpoints" and other types of ammunition designed to fragment or mushroom on impact and remain inside the body while causing maximum damage.

I think it's highly unlikely you would see Hollywood style "holes" being drilled through an aircraft from the typical defensive ammunition fired from concealed handguns, which typically only have 2.5"-4" barrels.

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