December 30, 2009
|TSA Special Agent John Enright, left, speaks to Steven Frischling outside the blogger’s home in Niantic, Connecticut, after returning Frischling’s laptop Wednesday. Photo: Thomas Cain/Wired.com|
Wired reports today that two bloggers who posted new airport search procedures in the wake of the exaggerated underwear bomber fiasco received home visits from Transportation Security Administration agents.
“Special agents from the TSA’s Office of Inspection interrogated two U.S. bloggers, one of them an established travel columnist, and served them each with a civil subpoena demanding information on the anonymous source that provided the TSA document.” writes Kim Zetter on the Threat Level section of the Wired website.
“They’re saying it’s a security document but it was sent to every airport and airline,” blogger Steven Frischling told Wired. “It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they’re looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can’t have a right to expect privacy after that.”
TSA official Suzanne Trevino said security directives “are not for public disclosure.”
Frischling said the agents who showed up at his home were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn’t provide the name of his source. He said they threatened to get him fired from his KLM Royal Dutch Airlines job and also said they would get him designated as a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel. Frischling is a photographer and freelance writer.
Infowars posted the document on December 28 after it appeared on the Gizmodo website. The Department of Homeland Security memo instructs TSA employees to perform pat-downs “concentrating on upper legs and torso” of all passengers at airport boarding gates. “Physically inspect 100 percent of all passenger accessible property at the boarding gate prior to boarding, with focus on syringes being transported along with powders and/or liquids.” Heads of State or Heads of Government are exempt from the measures, according to the document.
[efoods]TSA agents also visited Chris Elliot, a travel journalist who writes a regular column for The Washington Post. “Chris is the other journalist who received and published a copy of the TSA’s Security Directive SD-1544-09-06,” writes Frischling on his blog.
“Chris and I have conversed many times before, however this phone call began by him asking me if any Federal Agents had visited me from the Department of Homeland Security this evening, as he had just been visited by a TSA Special Agent,” Frischling explains. “Moments after my call with Chris ended a sedan pulled in front of my house and two US Transportation Security Administration Special Agents were at my door with some questions and paperwork for me. I sent two of my kids upstairs, and like Chris I was served a subpoena by the Department of Homeland Security to disclose who sent me the contents of SD-1544-09-06.”
“We had just put the kids in the bathtub when Special Agent Robert Flaherty knocked on my front door with a subpoena. He was very polite, and used ‘sir’ a lot, and he said he just wanted a name: Who sent me the security directive?” explains Elliot on his blog.
The subpoena commands Elliot “to produce and permit inspection and copying of the records” in his possession related to “TSA Security Directive 1544-09-06 dated December 25, 2009.”
“Any person who neglects or refuses to produce records in obedience to this subpoena is subject to fines under Title 18, United States Code, imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, 49 U.S.C § 46313,” the subpoena concludes.
“So if I’m reading this correctly, the TSA wants me to tell them who gave me the security directive,” writes Elliot. “I told Flaherty I’d call my attorney and get back to him.”
“We are a free society, knowledge is power and informing the masses allows for public conversation and collective understanding,” Steven Frischling notes. “You can agree or disagree, but you need information to know if you want to agree or disagree. My goal is to inform and help people better understand what is happening, as well as allow them to form their own opinions.”