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TSA Pretty Sure You Don't Understand How Time Works or What Words Mean

September 5, 2012 at 2:56 PM | by | Comment (1)

A month ago we wrote about how privacy groups were taking TSA to court again (like they do). This time it was over how the airport security agency has more or less refused to obey a court order to follow the law and open up the use of full-body scanners to public commentary.

The actual order was to hold public hearings about the rule changes TSA implemented around the scanners, but the effect was the same. A judge ordered the agency to do hold hearings a year ago, they didn't, and so the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) dragged them back to court.

A month went by without TSA formally addressing the new EPIC complaint, which meant that the agency was dragging its feet about addressing an accusation that they were dragging their feet. Say what you will about these guys: they're consistent.

TSA's explanation for why they've yet to convene public hearings is here [PDF]. In the legal brief the agency insists that there is "no basis whatsoever for [the] assertion that TSA has delayed in implementing this Court’s mandate." Then they go on to explain that doing stuff requires lots of paperwork, and that just takes time, and that's really difficult, because, ya know dude, it just does.

As always, the problem with TSA isn't limited to the fact that they're bad at their job. What really frustrates critics is that when critics ask for explanations and transparency, they get stonewalled. This is arguably the classic example, but click the first link in this post for a recent catalog.

We're not here to evaluate the legal merit of TSA's response. But simply as a matter of what words mean, isn't there at least some basis for the assertion that TSA has delayed holding public hearings. 12 months is at least a little delay, right? So let's have an admission on that, and work from there.

[Photo: Crashworks / Flickr]

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TSA Arrogance

They may allow public comment but will do what they want anyway. The Rapi-Scan x-ray scanners produce a naked image that Denver TSA area director Pat Ahlstrom, admitted "were graphic, no doubt about it." Europe doesn't allow the x-ray units to be used on children because they violate child pornography laws. The TSA version also has a screener viewing the nude image of children who passes through in violation of State and Federal child pornography laws. Germany banned them all of them and went back to metal detectors because of the 54% false positive rate and 40% failure rate. The scanners haven't been independently tested for radiation despite multiple lawsuits and claims by radiologists that they pose a risk. TSA. Because nothing says "Amerika" better than treating citizens like criminals and exposing them to radiation for buying an airline ticket.

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