31 December 2009

TSA... sigh... I can't even want to write a headline for them

The TSA can't keep people off of airplanes with explosives in their underwear. But they sure can track down the bloggers who point out their over-reactions.
As the government reviews how an alleged terrorist was able to bring a bomb onto a U.S.-bound plane and try to blow it up on Christmas Day, the Transportation Security Administration is going after bloggers who wrote about a directive to increase security after the incident.
TSA special agents served subpoenas to travel bloggers Steve Frischling and Chris Elliott, demanding that they reveal who leaked the security directive to them. The government says the directive was not supposed to be disclosed to the public.
Frischling said he met with two TSA special agents Tuesday night at his Connecticut home for about three hours and again on Wednesday morning when he was forced to hand over his lap top computer. Frischling said the agents threatened to interfere with his contract to write a blog for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines if he didn't cooperate and provide the name of the person who leaked the memo.

edit - go read the original!
The TSA directive outlined new screening measures that went into effect the same day as the airliner incident. It included many procedures that would be apparent to the traveling public, such as screening at boarding gates, patting down the upper legs and torso, physically inspecting all travelers' belongings, looking carefully at syringes with powders and liquids, requiring that passengers remain in their seats one hour before landing, and disabling all onboard communications systems, including what is provided by the airline.

You want a truly terrifying account of how bad security is? Read this account from The Atlantic and see what Bruce was able to carry on board without any undue scrutiny - even when he pointed the items out to TSA!

And the follow-up with Schneier over at Goldberg's blog at The Atlantic will make you want to hit the nearest desk.

Goldberg: If you were Janet Napolitano, what would you do today?

Schneier: It's a hard question, because she has to both protect the administration politically and protect Americans physically. Politically, she needs to *do something*. When people are scared, they need something done that will make them feel safe, even if it doesn't truly make them safer. Politicians naturally want to do something in response to crisis, even if that something doesn't make any sense. But unfortunately for politicians, the security measures that work are largely invisible. Such measures include enhancing the intelligence-gathering abilities of the secret services, hiring cultural experts and Arabic translators, building bridges with Islamic communities both nationally and internationally, funding police capabilities -- both investigative arms to prevent terrorist attacks, and emergency communications systems for after attacks occur -- and arresting terrorist plotters without media fanfare. They do not include expansive new police or spying laws, or security theater measures that directly target the most recent tactic or target. I guess the real answer is that I don't want Janet Napolitano's job: I would want to do the right thing even if it wasn't the politically right thing.

By: Brant

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