Monday, October 21, 2013

Leaked TSA document causing trouble for Jon Corbett

Our buddy Jon Corbett is back in the news again.

You may recall that Corbett, who has written for us here at TSA News, was the first person in the country to sue the TSA on the grounds that its strip-search scanners and body groping are violations of the 4th Amendment. Corbett also demonstrated, in a widely disseminated video, that the scanners are worthless pieces of junk.

None of this, of course, has made a dent in the armor of the blue-caped crusaders. Corbett's lawsuit is ongoing, as is the money being sucked out of his pocket. He's a modern-day hero, fighting not only for his rights but for those of his fellow Americans too gutless to fight for themselves. But I digress.

In the most recent development, our incompetent "security" overlords accidentally published a portion of Corbett's lawsuit that was supposed to be kept under seal. I'll let Jon tell the story:
I received a call from the clerk’s office of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stating that opposing counsel (the government) has complained to the Court that I am violating the order sealing the documents upon which my brief is based by talking about their contents — even though the contents of those documents were (accidentally) published by the Court, and then reproduced in the media. I called the attorney on the case, Sharon Swingle of the U.S. Department of Justice, who confirmed that the government’s position is that I have violated the court order and must take down the blog post in question. 
I tried explaining to Ms. Swingle that the document had been published by a third party and that I was simply discussing that now-public document. I tried explaining to Ms. Swingle how absurd it would be to say that any third party can talk about anything in that document they wanted, but that I was somehow barred. I tried explaining to Ms. Swingle the Streisand Effect, and that she will now be drawing more attention to the documents that the government wants hidden from the public. Ms. Swingle continued to insist that the government’s position was that I must take the comments down, and so I have.
Since Jon will get nowhere trying to talk sense and logic to the authorities, it's left to the rest of us to disseminate this information, which some news sources, such as Techdirt and Frequent Business Traveler, are already doing.

The most revealing -- and unsurprising -- part of the supposedly redacted document is the following (please try to ignore the retch-inducing term "Homeland"):
"As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing . . . there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11."
In other words, the TSA itself admits what some of us have been saying for years: the agency is security theater, designed to placate people and make them think that Something Is Being Done.

Hell, we've only written hundreds of posts at TSA News saying so and presenting empirical evidence to that effect. But meh, facts schmacts.

Who knows -- perhaps whoever "accidentally" released this document was pulling an Edward Snowden and doing us all a favor. Not that it'll make any difference. The credulous will remain credulous, the fear-loving won't give up their fear, the profiteers making billions off that fear won't quit lobbying, Congress won't dismantle the TSA, the criminal agency won't change.

Good luck, Jon. You're doing God's work. Too bad so many of your fellow citizens couldn't care less.

(Cross-posted at TSA News)