Federal court calls for TSA to explain defiance of naked body scanner order
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the lie
On August 1, 2012 a federal appeals court ordered the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to clarify why they have yet to comply with a now year-old court decision mandating public hearings on the use of the so-called naked body scanners in airports across the nation.
These hearings were supposed to address the rules and regulations pertaining to the use of these scanners, which have been linked to significant health risks, place quite considerable costs on the taxpayer and most importantly don’t even work as they are supposed to.
Indeed, earlier this year a blogger exposed how easy it is to bypass these scanners while in 2010 an Israeli security expert said, “I don’t know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747.”
In response to the third request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit finally stepped up.
In a short order, the court asked why the TSA has yet to follow through with being ordered “to act promptly” and hold public hearings with public adoption of rules and regulations of the use of scanners.
The original decision came on July 15, 2011 in response to a lawsuit filed by EPIC. The court set aside the constitutional challenge brought forth by EPIC in order to allow the government to conduct the aforementioned public hearings.
While the appeals court ruled 3-0 in favor of keeping the scanners in place stating, “screening passengers at an airport is an ‘administrative search’ because the primary goal is not to determine whether any passenger has committed a crime but rather to protect the public from a terrorist attack.”
However, they also ruled that the TSA breached federal law when they formally made the body scanners the “primary” screening method for passengers.
They ruled that in 2009 the TSA violated the Administrative Procedures Act since they did not hold the 90-day public comment period, after which they ordered them to carry it out.
For many observers at the time, including myself, the decision fell far short of actually holding the TSA accountable since there was no penalty whatsoever for the breach.
In the court order uploaded by Wired’s Threat Level, the judges ordered the TSA to respond by August 30. However, Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokesperson, told Wired that they did not plan to hold the hearings and respond to them until “next year.”
Personally, I doubt that this will actually result in any action taken against the TSA since, as before, the TSA will likely simply claim that following the law would hinder their ability to respond to “ever-revolving threats.”
Clearly I’m not the only one who is amazed by the brazenness of the TSA’s flouting of the law and refusal to follow the court order, evidenced by a White House petition with over 16,000 signatures entitled, “Require the Transportation Security Administration to Follow the Law!”
The petition, which was originally published by the director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, Jim Harper, needs to reach 25,000 signatures before the Obama administration is supposed to respond.
That being said, the responses to the petitions have been so laughable in the past that there was actually a petition to take petitions seriously.
Therefore I’m not holding my breath in hopes of seeing either a meaningful response to the petition or the TSA being held accountable. I’d love to be surprised by seeing some of the much promised and never seen transparency of the Obama administration but saying that such a thing is likely is, in my opinion, a bit naïve.
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