Dec 07 2010

TSA releases list of SOPs — but says they’re all secret

Eleven months after the deadline for their response set by the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), the TSA has finally responded to our request for the TSA “Standard Operating Procedures” referred to in December 2009 testimony to Congress by TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides.

The TSA did give us the list of SOPs (the first time this has been disclosed), but withheld the SOPs themselves in their entirely.  [We have appealed that withholding.]

There are no laws or published regulations defining what the TSA is permitted to do, and what travelers are required to submit to, in the name of TSA “screening”.  As a result, the TSA’s “Standard Operating Procedures” — even though they aren’t binding on either the TSA or travelers — are the most detailed written documentation of what is “supposed” to happen at TSA checkpoints.

We are entitled to know what powers the TSA claims over us, and what rules they claim we have to follow.

If public-spirited leakers have access to any of these documents, we encourage you to make them public, directly or through us, through Wikileaks, or through other investigative reporters:

  • Screening Checkpoint SOP
  • Screening Management SOP
  • Checked Baggage SOP
  • Advanced Imaging Technology (WBI) [listed twice — does this mean that there are 2 such SOPs?]
  • Playbook SOP
  • Colorimetric SOP
  • Stand Off Detection
  • Visible Intermodal Protection and Response
  • Bomb Appraisal Officer
  • SPOT

9 thoughts on “TSA releases list of SOPs — but says they’re all secret

  1. The fact that these procedures are not published is good. They cannot be enforced unless they are published in the Federal Register. According to the federal Administrative Procedures Act and the Register Act, any “rule” that affects substantive rights or has general application must be published in order to have the force of law. Reading Title 49 USC and CFR, we find that there is no statute or regulation that provides authority for the TSA to scope or grope anyone. The statutes and regulations require that one give permission for a search, but does not provide for this level of invasiveness. Consenting to a search, but refusing to participate in the scope or grope should be sufficient for a tort claim against the TSA for violating a person’s right to travel through navigable airspace.

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  3. Here’s a possible avenue:

    “Private screening did not disappear under the TSA, which allows airports to opt out of federal screeners and hire firms to do the job instead. Such firms must still get TSA approval under its Screening Partnership Program (SPP) and follow TSA procedures.[7] Among the U.S. airports with privately operated checkpoints are San Francisco International Airport; Kansas City International Airport; Greater Rochester International Airport; Tupelo Regional Airport; Key West International Airport; and Jackson Hole Airport.[8][9]”

    What’s wrong with this picture? Private companies can apply for TSA approval and see the TSA procedures but the public cannot? This seems a bit hard to explain.

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  6. All you idiots that think tsa sops should be published. They are charged with keeping travelers safe. That being said if all these sops were published other idiots, like terrorists, would know where all the loopholes are and try to take advantage of them. Maybe “secret ” was a bad word to use but you can’t tell the public everything.

  7. Al Ross is obviously not a traveler. The TSA should have the authority to act to keep travelers safe, agreed. But, they also need to perform in a consistent manner ensures the rights of US citizens. The TSA does not do this.
    Each airport is operating under a different set of rules based on what is understood by the TSA authority in that particular location which inherently violates the rights of US citizens. We have the right to know under what laws we are to be controlled by in any situation we may subject ourselves to. By entering an controlled area, we give implied consent to certain restrictions. But, those restrictions must be consistent and they are not due to the deficient level of understanding of the officers enforcing those regulations that I can only attribute to either insufficient training, illiteracy, or a lack of enforced standards within the Department of Homeland Security. All of this makes the country less safe.
    And of course the finest security that minimum wage can buy. Which is apparent by the demonstrated lack of discipline in the agents of the TSA.
    There appears to be no Standard of fitness, hygiene, grooming, etc.
    There are no words for the lack of professionalism exhibited by “man Buns”, gross obesity, Body odor to an extent indicating poor hygiene, and lack of any effort or standard regarding the proper wearing of the uniform.
    The TSA is an embarrassment to all other uniformed services of the United States
    Foreign nationals as far as I am concerns enjoy very limited rights in the US the same as we do in their countries.

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