TSA Gets Comments Whether they Like it or Not

A month or so ago, I mentioned that the Transportation Security Administration had refused to hold public hearings on their decision to use the nude body scanners even when ordered by a judge to do so.  Now Techdirt points out that one enterprising organization has determined that if they won’t take public comment, then public comment will come to them.

We Won’t Fly has set up a web page where the public can comment, and they promise to deliver said comments to TSA administrator John Pistole.  Curiously, there doesn’t seem to be much pro-TSA feeling at the site.  A couple of examples.

Susan J Barretta writes

TSA security is nothing more than theater to keep a lot of people busy who would otherwise be unemployed.

Kristina Frey:

I work in the healthcare field, and unfortunately for me, have to fly at least twice a month. I would like to know – what kind of calibration standards are followed for these radiation-emitting machines? Can I trust that the TSA takes the same type of precautions that healthcare facilities take to constantly maintain quality control? Considering that I have found TSA to not be following their own policies at several airports, and been told they know the requirements but can’t or don’t follow them when I pointed it out to supervisors, I don’t trust the TSA with exposing me to radiation. No way.

They say that once they hit 10,000 comments or December 1, 2012, they’ll deliver the goods to DC.  Get your comments in while you can.  I’d wager they hit 10,000 well before the December deadline.

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I Certainly Feel Safe

Our TSA, in concert with the NY Port Authority, has another feather in its cap.  Seems that a jet skier breached the perimeter fence at New York’s JFK airport:

A stranded jet-skier seeking help effortlessly overcame the Port Authority’s $100 million, supposedly state-of-the-art security system at JFK Airport — walking undetected across two runways and into a terminal, The Post has learned.

This, however, was no ordinary jet skier, no sir.  This was Drunken Jet Ski Guy (DJSG).  The sly and furtive DJSG hopped an 8-foot fence, crossed two runways, and made it inside before being arrested by alert security personnel, who were no doubt tipped off by clothing that didn’t appear suitable for an airline flight, including a bright yellow life vest and (presumably) swim trunks.  I think he also asked a Delta gate agent for a lift back home.  And another beer.

I have to say that such attention to detail is one thing that separates the boys in blue from us mere civilians.  Such professionalism under pressure should make us proud.  Lowering the Bar also points out that it was perfectly understandable–part of the plan, in fact–why they might miss DJSG’s stealthy, ninja-like entry into Terminal 3.

To be fair to security personnel, this does seem to have happened at night, a time during which security can be relaxed because terrorists are known to be afraid of the dark.

Yessireebob, the TSA can add another dangerous criminal to its bag of we’ve-captured-or-confiscated-everything-but-an-actual-terrorist.

I Can’t Imagine Why the TSA Wouldn’t Want Public Input

So, a year ago the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia determined that the TSA’s nude body scanners are permissible, just as long as the TSA retroactively followed federal rulemaking requirements and got public input.

However, the appellate court, which is one stop from the Supreme Court, said that the Transportation Security Administration breached federal law in 2009 when it formally adopted the airport scanners as the “primary” method of screening. The judges said the TSA violated the Administrative Procedures Act for failing to have a 90-day public comment period, and ordered the agency to undertake one.

In other words, we’re not going to make you dump the rule that you put in place (the one that you expect the little people to follow) merely because you didn’t follow the laws that apply to federal agencies.  However, you need to at least pretend to follow the rules, so you will have to hold public hearings very soon.  Go forth, listen to the public, nod gravely, and then write a report whilst continuing to do what you damned well please.  If you do that, the court will magically deem you to be nice and legal and might even put a happy face stamp on the final judgement.

Seems the TSA doesn’t even want to do this.

A federal appeals court Wednesday ordered the Transportation Security Administration to explain why it hasn’t complied with the court’s year-old decision demanding the agency hold public hearings concerning the rules and regulations pertaining to the so-called nude body scanners installed in U.S. airport security checkpoints.

I’m not surprised that the TSA is ignoring the court’s ruling.  After all, they violate their own rules on a regular basis.  I do, however, find it highly ironic that an agency that makes its living doing security theater is balking at doing compliance theater.  I’d think it right up their alley.   Hot Air jokes that the TSA is having trouble fitting their response into 3 oz bottles, but I’m not so sure.  I’m wondering if, like many prima donnas, the TSA can only work under conditions of absolute love and adoration of their fans.  Knowing the low esteem in which the TSA is held by a good chunk of the citizenry, the precious feelings of the agency might be hurt by having to listen to actual citizen input.

Can’t have that.