techdirt – Chris Matthews Says That Pointing Out Chertoff’s Conflict Of Interest Over Rapiscan TSA Scanners Is Slander?
by Mike Masnick from the ah,-the-media dept on Monday, November 29th, 2010 @ 3:05PM
Michael Chertoff’s conflict of interest over the Rapiscan full body “naked” scanners used by the TSA in airports is old news. It was reported on widely earlier this year, and again in the past few weeks. So it does seem kind of odd (as pointed out via Radley Balko) that MSNBC TV guy Chris Matthews appears to accuse someone of slander for pointing it out. Of course, if you watch the video, what Matthews does is even more insidious — which is taking what Ginger McCall actually says, and twisting it to pretend she said something different. She points out — accurately — the conflict of interest, and he claims she’s saying that the only reason we have these devices was because of corruption and “sweetheart deals” back when Chertoff was head of Homeland Security. But McCall was merely pointing out that there’s a “revolving door” at these agencies, and machines are pitched by former government folks, with little evidence that they’re effective. Matthews totally takes what McCall actually says and pretends (falsely) that she claimed he made a corrupt deal while still in power. This is what passes for journalism these days?
by Mike Masnick from the hello-4th-amendment dept on Monday, November 29th, 2010 @ 12:01PM
Law professor Jeffrey Rosen has an excellent analysis of why the TSA’s new searches are unconstitutional. He notes that, even if the majority of people aren’t too bothered by the searches, that doesn’t change the fact that they appear to be illegal. This is even though the courts have generally been quite deferential to the government when it comes to claims of “national security” in doing things like preventing terrorism. He notes that, while the Supreme Court has not heard such a case, there are various appeals court rulings that set the standards for such searches:
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in 2007, that “a particular airport security screening search is constitutionally reasonable provided that it ‘is no more extensive nor intensive than necessary, in the light of current technology, to detect the presence of weapons or explosives.’ ”
In a 2006 opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, then-Judge Samuel Alito stressed that screening procedures must be both “minimally intrusive” and “effective” – in other words, they must be “well-tailored to protect personal privacy,” and they must deliver on their promise of discovering serious threats. Alito upheld the practices at an airport checkpoint where passengers were first screened with walk-through magnetometers and then, if they set off an alarm, with hand-held wands. He wrote that airport searches are reasonable if they escalate “in invasiveness only after a lower level of screening disclose[s] a reason to conduct a more probing search.”
Of course, as Rosen notes, the new searches do not pass that test by a long shot. He also points out that an analysis of the machines suggests that — despite claims to the contrary by the TSA — new research shows that last year’s underwear bomber would not have been caught with these machines, which suggests that such machines are not “effective” under the above basic definition. Perhaps the Supreme Court will finally weigh in on this topic… though, by the time it reaches that level, the TSA will probably have moved on to even more ridiculous security theater practices.
by Mike Masnick from the comforting dept on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 @ 1:32PM
This probably won’t come as a surprise after hearing about the massively botched TSA screening that resulted in a guy covered in urine, but a new report out by Homeland Security investigators found that training of TSA agents is rushed, poorly supervised, and not up to the necessary level for the new security screening procedures.
For example, given all the talk about just how important these new naked scanners are, you would think that the TSA agents operating them would be properly trained to use them to see the stuff those machines are supposed to spot. Not so, apparently. According to the report, due to a “software problem,” TSA agents were trained on images from an older generation of machines which did not adequately prepare them to use the new machines:
TSA Gestapo Empire
By Paul Craig Roberts
It doesn’t take a bureaucrat long to create an empire. John Pistole, the FBI agent who took over the Transportation Security Administration on July 1 told USA Today 16 days later that protecting trains and subways from terrorist attacks will be as high a priority for him as air travel.
Who is Exempt From Airport Security?
By Ed O’Keefe
Here’s a review of who can and cannot bypass airport security, according to the Transportation Security Administration and congressional and Obama administration aides.
Report: Body Scanner Makers Doubled Lobbying Cash Over 5 Years
By Diana Sweet
Multimillion dollar government contracts don’t just happen. Ask the companies with the big government contracts to supply Body-scanning machines to U.S. airports how much more they had to spend on lobbying on the Hill.
By: emptywheel Monday November 22, 2010 4:44 am
I’m working on a longer post on John Pistole, the head of Transportation Security Administration who ordered the TSA to touch your junk.
But in the meantime I wanted to point out something appalling about his recent testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee. In it, he says the following to justify expanding the use of air marshal patrols at mass transit locations.
TSA Agents Absolutely Hate New Pat Downs, Find Them Disgusting And Morale Breaking (News You Could Do Without)
by Mike Masnick from the this-is-what-you-get-with-security-theater dept on Friday, November 19th, 2010 @ 11:17AM
One of the common themes that people keep mentioning in talking about the new TSA pat down procedures is that those involved must “enjoy” the groping they’re giving people. But, of course, most TSA agents are normal every day people who don’t actually want to grope random people. Chris Tolles points us to a post from BoardingArea.com, who reached out to some TSA agents and found that many TSA agents hate the new rules and find it to be sapping morale to have to grope passengers. Some of it appears to be the verbal abuse they’re getting from travelers, but some of it is just the fact that they have to keep touching people they’d rather not touch in that way:
“It is not comfortable to come to work knowing full well that my hands will be feeling another man’s private parts, their butt, their inner thigh. Even worse is having to try and feel inside the flab rolls of obese passengers and we seem to get a lot of obese passengers!”
from the tipping-point dept
Think the complaints about the TSA are beginning to reach a tipping point? There’s a whole bunch of new news on this front, starting with a California district attorney saying that he’s ready to charge TSA agents with sexual assault if evidence is presented that the new pat downs go too far (apparently multiple DAs are now saying this).