TSA Refuses to Hold Public Hearings on Nude Scanners, Court Chimes In
August 2, 2012 10:45 AM
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
. 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.
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
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
[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
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.
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
U.S. District Court for D.C. via Wired
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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