Hypocrites: At same time appeals court confirms TSA itself broke federal law
July 18, 2011
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the TSA, have claimed that a Congressman violated federal law by disclosing to the press details of 25,000 security breaches over the past ten years, despite the fact that the documents from which he gleaned the information were non-classified.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) received a letter last week outlining the charge from Homeland Security Deputy Counsel Joseph B. Maher, following a Congressional oversight hearing on the TSA last Wednesday.
During the hearing Chaffetz disclosed information about the security breaches, which made headlines in USA Today and several other newspapers.
Chaffetz’s opening statement from the hearing can be viewed in the video below:
The entire hearing can be viewed at the foot of the article.
“This document was marked as [Sensitive Security Information],” Maher wrote in the letter which was seen by The Washington Post, “and provided clear notice that unauthorized disclosures of the document violated federal law.”
Maher referred to the information Chaffetz discussed at the hearing as “a topic of particular interest to our adversaries,” intimating that the Congressman had endangered air travelers by revealing some details to the public.
In response to the TSA/DHS reaction, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) returned correspondence directly to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, described Maher’s threats toward Chaffetz as “meritless”and pointed out that it was his committee’s job to address “TSA deficiencies.”
Issa reiterated the fact that the information contained within the documents was not classified and declared it a “threat to the entire legislative branch that this administration will seek retribution when non-classified information is shared with the public.”
“The fact that the information in question was transmitted to the committee via an open e-mail over an open and non-secured network only underscores that this was not national security sensitive information,” Issa wrote, adding that he will open an investigation into “how and why” the DHS responded in such an aggressive manner.
The charge comes at the same time that a federal appeals court ruled that the TSA itself violated federal law by introducing radiation firing body scanners without debate.
A unanimous three-judge panel ruled Friday that the TSA’s failure to provide notice and allow sufficient time for public comment before adopting the technology as a primary passenger-screening tool violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
However, the court did not accept that the scanners violated the Fourth Amendment and several other privacy laws, noting “we are not persuaded by any of the statutory or constitutional arguments.” As a result the TSA will be allowed to continue using the machines, despite widespread warnings from scientists that they could cause cancers and pose other health risks to both the public and employees of the agency.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Rep. Chaffetz has consistently railed against the TSA takeover throughout the nation’s airports.
Last year he oversaw the passage in the House of an amendment to ban “strip-search” imaging at airports altogether.
“You don’t have to look at my wife and 8-year-old daughter naked to secure an airplane,” Chaffetz said at the time.
“You can actually see the sweat on somebody’s back. You can tell the difference between a dime and a nickel. If they can do that, they can see things that quite frankly I don’t think they should be looking at in order to secure a plane,” Chaffetz told the House.
The Congressman also labeled the TSA’s delay in releasing safety reports on body scanning technology as “inexcusable”.
Earlier this year, the Congressman introduced legislation to the House that would completely outlaw any form of pat-down on a child by security personnel without the express consent and presence of a parent.
“I am personally outraged and disgusted by yet another example of mistreatment of an innocent American at the hands of TSA.” Chaffetz said at the time, following the emergence of a video of a TSA agent conducting an enhanced pat down on a six year old girl.
“The agency must get serious about the manner in which it seeks to balance national security with personal privacy,” Chaffetz wrote to TSA head John Pistole. “At the very least, it cannot continue to operate under the belief that little girls and handicapped children pose such a serious threat that [agents] must abandon all manner of decency when interacting with them.”
The Congressman’s efforts applied pressure on the TSA, forcing the agency to once again announce a “change” in policy to stop pat downs on children under 10 years of age where ever possible.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.