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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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Why does it seem lately
By JediJeb on 8/2/2012 6:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why does it seem lately that the Executive branch does not feel it has to obey anything coming from either the Judicial or Legislative branch?

Unless things have changed since I had Civics in high school, the Legislative branch is responsible for creating the laws, the Judicial branch is responsible for reviewing the laws and interpreting them based on the Constitution, and the Executive branch is responsible for enforcing the laws written by the Legislative branch and approved by the Judicial branch.

The Executive branch is not there to make their own laws, or to re-interpret the current laws to make them fit how they want them to work. Just as with how the Executive branch is redefining what "work" is as it was set out in the previous Welfare Reform Act where "work" was clearly defined in the legislation. Now the Executive branch has put out decrees that even things like "bed rest" are to be counted as work to qualify people for welfare to whom the work requirement pertains. Same thing here with the TSA not following through on obeying the laws even after the Judicial branch has ruled they must. Seems our system of checks and balances is being ignored quite blatantly.

RE: Why does it seem lately
By webstorm1 on 8/3/2012 11:30:25 AM , Rating: 1
The last statement you made was very important. The PotUS isn't all that incredibly powerful, regardless of what those who picked the other guy (in every election not limited to current administration) would have you believe. I've had a government class a lot more recently than high school and it takes a lot of effort to effect real change that sticks. The President can deploy the military for a limited amount of time, and that is pretty powerful, but even that power can be overturned by the legislative branch. It takes the legislative branch being lazy, and not standing up to the president for this stupid shit to happen. That is precisely why your last statement is so important. The checks and balances aren't working because no one is standing up.

If you think this is limited to either of the major parties, you've lost the argument already. Each and every politician seems to be trying to watch his ass and not stand out, I think the only chance we have is for some truly concerned citizens to get involved in national politics. But everyone is gonna hate you no matter how well you are doing, so no one but the wrong people tend to want to get involved. I've seen great people in local politics though, that do stand up to bullshit. This system can work but not with the media that exists today. Foxnews or any of the other side news will bury you in bullshit before you've even had a chance.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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