Dec 16 2009

TSA won’t tell Congress what its procedures are

Today the Acting Director of the TSA is scheduled to appear before a Congressional subcommittee to testify about the posting of an unredacted version of the TSA’s “Screning Management Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)” on a government website.   (Confirmation of President Obama’s nominee for TSA Director has been held up by questions about whether he would allow TSA screeners to unionize.)

Members of the Committee have already asked questions about whether the TSA will ignore the First Amendment and prosecute people who legally reposted the information released by the government. On the other hand, we doubt that they will ask about the blatantly discriminatory and illegal provisions in the SOP, even though we’ve discussed our complaint with the subcommittee’s staff and made sure they had a copy.

We had to fight to get even censored excerpts from the Screening Management SOP in response to our earlier FOIA requests and appeals, and we’re not surprised that the TSA is stonewalling our current appeal for the complete current version. This morning, the Washington Times reports that the TSA is resisting showing the current SOP even to Congress:

[W]hen Gale Rossides, acting administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), testifies before a House panel Wednesday, key members say they will press for a copy of what the government says is a newer, more secretive manual to examine for themselves.

Rep. Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania Republican and ranking member of the House of Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security and infrastructure protection, along with Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Florida Republican and ranking member of the investigations and oversight subcommittee, asked for a copy of the current version in a letter to Ms. Rossides on Friday.

But the agency is stonewalling and allowed only select committee staffers to review the new manual and its half-dozen revisions for one hour on Monday.

Mr. Dent questions whether the revisions are as substantial as the TSA claims, why mitigation efforts are being put in place if there are no new risks exposed by the leak, and why Congress can’t have a copy.

Today’s hearing will be webcast, and we’ll be watching with interest.

3 thoughts on “TSA won’t tell Congress what its procedures are

  1. It seems to me that if the TSA won’t talk to congress, congress should respond similarly. No information need flow from Congress about when (or if) the TSA will receive any funding of any kind, or when anyone at the management level or higher will be released from custody on in a “contempt of congress” charge.

    I expect the TSA would find responding to congress to be very possible.

  2. Pingback: Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » He’s got a little list (and we’re on it)

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