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TSA Continues To Break The Law; Ignores Court Demand On Naked Body Scanners

Dan ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮ 2012/07/20 16:42:40

TSA Continues To Break The Law; Ignores Court Demand On Naked Body Scanners



Groups round on agency for failing to comply with law for over a year


Steve Watson

Infowars.com

July 20, 2012





Several watchdog groups have joined forces to demand that the TSA
comply with a now year old federal appeals court order to conduct a
public comment process with regards to its use of so called naked body
scanners.


In July of 2011,
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the TSA had violated
federal law by rolling out radiation firing body scanners in airports
without soliciting public comment. The court noted that it would allow
use of the scanners to continue, but that the TSA should ” act
promptly” to initiate the legally required notice-and-comment rulemaking
procedure.


A unanimous three-judge panel ruled that the TSA’s failure to
provide notice and allow sufficient time for comment before adopting
the technology as a primary passenger-screening tool was unlawful.


Specifically, the TSA’s actions violated the Administrative Procedure Act,
which requires federal agencies to provide notice and opportunity for
comment when implementing a rule that affects the rights of the public.


Judge Douglas Ginsburg found there was “no justification for having
failed to conduct a notice-and-comment rulemaking,” and said, “few if
any regulatory procedures impose directly and significantly upon so
many members of the public.”


The TSA had argued that it “should not have to stop every five
minutes for comment and rulemaking”, and that it did not have the
resources to do so in any case.


The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which originally brought the case, has now filed a mandamus petition with the Court in Washington, DC to demand the beginning of a public comment process.


In the petition, EPIC notes that the agency’s delay in acting poses
risks to travelers, defies the Court’s authority, and is flat out
unlawful. EPIC asks the court to require that the TSA receive public
comments within 60 days or that it suspend the body scanner program
altogether.


EPIC has also submitted
a Freedom of Information Act request to the TSA, in order to ascertain
whether the agency has any intention of affording the public the
opportunity to comment on the scanners.


EPIC has previously argued in court that body scanners are
“invasive, unlawful, and ineffective,” and that the TSA’s deployment of
the devices violated the U.S. Constitution and several other federal
statutes. The rights group is pursuing a case to completely suspend use
of the scanners in airports.


EPIC has received support for its action against the TSA from The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which issued a brief that
argues that the TSA’s claims that it does not have the resources to
comply with the public rulemaking process are entirely bogus:


“If the TSA is unable to manage its tremendous budget of nearly $8
billion in a manner that enables the agency to follow well-established
laws, this Court is obligated to exercise its authority to compel the
agency to follow duly enacted laws.” the brief reads.


“Curiously, the obstacles responsible for the TSA’s delayed
rule-making here do not appear to have forestalled the agency’s
aggressive deployment of AIT scanners in airports nationwide.” it
continues.


“This course of conduct is hardly indicative of an agency so starved
for resources that it cannot comply with a straightforward judicial
mandate within one year. Moreover, the TSA’s purchase of hundreds of new
scanners after this Court’s July 2011 decision in EPIC suggests the
agency intends to continue doing as it pleases without regard to public
input or duly enacted laws.”


CEI and EPIC have also been joined in their calls by The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and The Cato Institute.


Jim Harper, the director of information policy studies at the Cato
Institute, has issued a petition to the White House on the matter.


“The public deserves to know where the administration stands on freedom to travel, and the rule of law.” Harper notes.


“While TSA agents bark orders at American travelers, should the
agency itself be allowed to flout one of the highest courts in the
land?” Harper adds.


The federal government has invested close to a billion dollars so
far into a fleet of 800 scanners, and the TSA has outlined plans to buy
nearly 1,000 more in the next two years.


The TSA is continuing to roll out more full body scanners in airports across the country despite the fact that a recent Congressional report concluded
that the agency “is wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars
by inefficiently deploying screening equipment and technology to
commercial airports.”


Another recently discovered Homeland Security report noted that federal investigators have “identified vulnerabilities in the screening process” involving the scanners.


The reports provided a basis for renewed investigation of claims made
in March by Engineer Jon Corbett who posted a video of himself
demonstrating how the body scanners can easily be bypassed.


The TSA initially responded to the revelations, describing Corbett as
“some guy” who had launched a “crude attempt to allegedly show how to
circumvent TSA screening procedures.”


The agency failed to even address the fact that Corbett had proven the body scanners could be easily defeated, and then it threatened journalists not to cover the story.


Corbett has continued his efforts to expose flaws in the body scanner
program by interviewing TSA whistleblowers who have admitted that the scanners routinely fail to
pick up prohibited items such as knives, guns and powder designed to
resemble explosive material. Corbett also recently testified in a
congressional hearing on the scanners.


As we have previously noted, multiple other security experts have gone on record saying that the scanners are ineffective.

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