Agency worried about whistleblowers
June 22, 2012
The TSA wants to actively spy on its own employees without them knowing or consenting, in a crack down on leaks from potential whistleblowers on the inside of the agency.
As reported by Nextgov.com, the TSA has issued a solicitation for an “enterprise insider threat software package”, in other words, spyware that will allow the agency to monitor the emails, the web browser history, and even the keystrokes of its employees.
The TSA contracting documents state, “In order to detect an insider threat, technology is required to monitor and obtain visibility into users’ actions.”
The solicitation says that the technology must be Microsoft Windows compatible and have the ability to “monitor user activities through keystroke monitoring/logging; chat monitoring/logging; email monitoring/logging; attachment monitoring/logging; website monitoring/logging; network activity monitoring/logging; files transferred monitoring/logging; document tracking monitoring/logging; screenshot capture; program activity monitoring/logging.”
The document also notes that the spyware should provide the agency with the capability to “mine through all the collected data using built-in or third-party tools,” allow for the movement of the data to a central command, and also “alert” TSA officials of any abnormalities “based on specific criteria such as a name and/or combination of names.”
“The end user (employee) must not have the ability to detect this technology,” the document also states.
The TSA issued a statement on the move Thursday, noting “As the agency whose serious responsibility it is to deal with national security, TSA must remain vigilant to safeguard sensitive information in order to secure the nation’s transportation systems. This software is intended to assist in carrying out that mission. This initiative will be used in accordance with all federal laws and will be reserved for specific instances that meet TSA’s qualifications for an insider threat.”
The agency is following in the footsteps of other government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, which was recently sued by former employees who claim their emails were read and screenshots were taken from their computers after they complained to the Office of Special Counsel about FDA approval of unsafe medical devices.
In recent months multiple whistleblowers have come forward to reveal startling details about TSA practices and activities.
Last November, the agency found itself embroiled in yet another scandal after a whistleblower accused the agency of covering up her sexual assault at the hands of a TSA investigator by forcing her to sign a false disavowal.
When Nilda C. Marugame, a TSA worker at Lihue airport, subsequently attempted to notify the Assistant Federal Security Director about the incident, she was immediately suspended for three days and then coerced into signing a statement that erroneously characterized the sexual advances as being consensual.
In a separate case, earlier this year, a TSA screener spoke out regarding the federal agency’s $1 billion dollar plus fleet of body scanners, labeling them completely useless and revealing that the machines routinely fail to pick up prohibited items such as knives, guns and powder designed to resemble explosive material.
In an interview conducted by Jon Corbett, the engineer who recently exposed how the scanners could be fooled by simply securing an object inside an external pocket sewn on to an item of clothing, the anonymous TSA screener, also revealed how the federal agency forced people without the necessary training to operate the scanners.
When the TSA worker wrote to her Congressman complaining about the problems, the agency retaliated by removing her from screening duties and began the process to dismiss her altogether.
The following videos document the case:
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.