Fully Briefed: Would Releasing Videos of TSA Screeners at Checkpoints Violate Their Privacy?

Although the question of whether a TSA screener can detain travelers at checkpoints will be decided at a later day by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, earlier this week I filed the final brief before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard decides the following questions:

  1. Would releasing videos that show the faces of TSA screeners while working at checkpoints violate their privacy?
  2. Would releasing the names of those screeners violate their privacy?
  3. Can a government entity lie, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, about the existence of a record deemed to be Sensitive Security Information?

Question 1, I think, borders on the absurd.  The idea that a bunch of public servants working in a public place have some sort of right to privacy sufficient to hide any video taken of them is absurd, especially in light of the fact that us “normal citizens” have no such reasonable expectation when we walk around in public.

Question 2 measures only marginally lower on the absurdity scale.  TSA screeners wear name tags and ID badges when working at the checkpoint.   Somehow, the identity of TSA screeners is public while they’re working, but if an incident happens, all the sudden, that information is now private.  Do we have a right to know who we, the taxpayers, have hired to work for us?  Would release of this information increase accountability to the public?

Question 3 also deals with accountability: if the government is allowed to lie about having “secret” records, it can mark any record as “secret” and the public would have no way to challenge that because we’d have no way to prove that a record existed in the first place.  If revealing the existence (or non-existence) of a document would truly harm national security, this is precisely the situation for which a Glomar denial (“we can neither confirm nor deny…”) was invented.  Instead, Broward County chose to lie, and then to double down by defending that lie through summary judgment.

So far, this particular judge has not looked too favorably on my case.  She dismissed 19 out of 21 counts so far (those involving the illegal search and seizure itself), denied a motion for reconsideration without explanation and analysis, and ignored a motion to begin the appeal of the 19 dismissed counts while the 2 remaining counts are pending.  The 19 dismissed counts will make it to the appeals court sooner or later regardless, but for the remaining counts, I am still optimistic that the law is clearly on my side and Judge Lenard will rule in my favor.  There is no time-table for her ruling, but since I don’t feel like she particularly wants my case in her courtroom, I expect that she’ll rule fairly quickly — within a month.

Corbett v. TSA – Motion for Summary Judgment (TSA) (.pdf) (3 MB)
Corbett v. TSA – Motion for Summary Judgment (Broward) (.pdf)

Corbett v. TSA – Opposition to Defendants’ Motions and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Jon) (.pdf)

Corbett v. TSA – Reply & Cross-Motion Opposition (TSA) (.pdf)
Corbett v. TSA – Reply & Cross-Motion Opposition (Broward) (.pdf)

Corbett v. TSA – Reply to TSA’s Opposition (Jon) (.pdf)
Corbett v. TSA – Reply to Broward’s Opposition (Jon) (.pdf)

14 thoughts on “Fully Briefed: Would Releasing Videos of TSA Screeners at Checkpoints Violate Their Privacy?

Add yours

  1. TSA is a F a r c e . . .

    Now it’s just a question of whether the Federal District Judge is going to play along with TSA clowns or grow a back-bone and toss ’em all out of the circus-tent.

  2. Yeah, Right: Our Rulers Want Your Comments on the TSA:

    he TSA suffered a partial loss in a lawsuit several years ago when the Electronic Privacy Information Center “petitioned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend the body scanner program, stressing its core assertion that ‘the TSA has acted outside of its regulatory authority and with profound disregard for the statutory and constitutional rights of air travelers.’” With profound disregard for those same concerns, the gowned clowns decreed that the TSA could continue irradiating passengers; after all, a technology so dangerous that Europe has banned its use is invaluable for training American serfs to obey: “The Court did not require TSA to stop using [porno-scanners] to screen passengers,” as the TSA itself says, “explaining that ‘vacating the present rule would severely disrupt an essential security operation,’ and that the rule is ‘otherwise lawful.’” Well, yeah — so long as you eviscerate the Fourth Amendment. But heck: the injustice system’s job is to strengthen the government and keep our taxes flowing to its cronies, not uphold the Constitution.

    At any rate, “on July 15, 2011, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the agency had violated the Administrative Procedures Act by implementing body scanners as a primary screening method without first undertaking public notice and comment rulemaking.” All those screams and shrieks from outraged travelers at the checkpoint don’t count, you see, any more than does testimony from doctors on the medical perils of the porno-scanners. “The Court ordered the agency to ‘promptly’ undertake the proper rulemaking procedures and allow the public to comment on the body scanner program.” And so, almost two full years later, the TSA has “promptly” dragged its non-compliant butt into compliance. It is beginning the long, bureaucratic procedure of “soliciting” “comments.” And no, Our Rulers don’t consider your toddler’s tears and tantrums when the goon in a blue shirt molested her a “comment.” You have to “formally” submit remarks according to Leviathan’s regulations.

    I’m of a mixed mind whether to dignify this nonsense with participation. On the one hand, all of this plainly unconstitutional “notice-and-comment” balderdash is part of the administrative regime, erected in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, as a deliberate end-run around the Constitution. Meanwhile, Our Rulers no longer even pretend to heed their subjects: we overwhelming opposed both Obummercare and the bail-outs, to no avail.

    On the other hand … hard to stay silent in the face of evil, isn’t it? To protest the TSA’s spitting on the Constitution, go here. But hurry: “notice-and-comment” ends on June 24.

  3. I would really like to take my 2 year old to Disneyworld someday. But it’s a several days drive for me and I refuse to expose him to molestation via TSA. Nor will I be allowing anyone to take pornographic images of my “Mommy parts”. I am relieved that some of the scanners have been removed for the sake of frequent flyers having to be raditated just to work, but I am sincerely hoping for a more thorough resolution. I read these updates everytime they are posted and at this point I am just hoping and praying that Liberty will be restored. Until then, I guess my little one will not be able to meet Mickey Mouse. What a sad country this has become.

  4. sue tsa agents as individuals, separate from the tsa or dept of homeland security.
    get the miami herald/sun sentinel/palm beach post to cover your story!

  5. Having fun with the TSA:

    A friend I’ll call Sam Smith writes that he flies “a lot for business” – which wins him and anyone confronting this dilemma my heartfelt sympathy. I can’t imagine a decision more gut-wrenching than choosing whether to pay the mortgage and submit to sexual assault or lose your job because you insist on your inalienable right to be free of governmental gate-rape.

    But Sam doesn’t go quietly into that dark night. He “always opt[s] out of those virtual strip search scanners. (The truth is that if the default were a pat down, I’d probably opt out of that [in favor of] the scanner, since neither option is appealing, but I feel the one option I will not take is just to do what they want quietly.)” Yes!

    Sam continues: “On my latest trip, the goon checking my ID asked, ‘Are you Sam?’ I said ‘no’—pause for effect to see his shocked face. ‘I’m Mr. Smith to you.’” If only all passengers—no, let me broaden that: if only all citizens had Sam’s attitude, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

    But Sam hadn’t finished shaming his assailants. “The other goon preparing for the pat down, after detailing what he was going to do, asked me if I was comfortable with this. ‘No, of course I’m not comfortable with this, but I don’t have a choice do I?’

    “After back and forth, he said, ‘Well, sir, I can’t let you proceed unless you say that you are comfortable with this.’”

    So Sam capitulated – sort of. “OK…I will say that I am comfortable with a total stranger feeling my private parts.”

    The thug “wasn’t happy,” Sam reports, “but there were a few smiles from other passengers.”

  6. Our privacy is not protected in a public area so they shouldn’t be entitled to it either!!! The names and faces of TSA employee’s is not SSI.

  7. DHS Plans To Speed Saudis Through US Customs:

    Saudi Arabia, the nation which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks, is about to become one of a handful of countries whose travelers can bypass normal passport controls at major U.S. airports. Sources tell the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) that this will mark the first time that the Saudi government will have a direct role in vetting who is eligible for getting fast-tracked for entry into the United States.

    An agreement to accept Saudi Arabian applicants into the Global Entry trusted traveler program drew little notice when it was announced in January. Now, some officials question why the country merits such a benefit – which is similar to a theme park “fast pass” to avoid long lines – when other allies like Germany and France are not yet included. A program for Israeli travelers was reached last May but has not been implemented.

    Travelers approved for the program can skip the normal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lines starting next year and enter the country after providing their passports and fingerprints at a kiosk. Only Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands currently enjoy the benefit, although pilot programs could expand it to a handful of others.

  8. House Homeland Committee leader questions administration border security claims:

    Reports of missed Border Patrol apprehensions in Arizona because of possible gaps in security prompted the leader of the House Homeland Security Committee to formally ask DHS to explain its recent claims of a secure border.

    An April 4 report in the Los Angeles Times quoted an internal Border Patrol memo concerning the use of a new airborne radar system called Vader. The memo showed that although the agency identified and detained 1,874 undocumented aliens in Arizona’s Sonoran desert between Oct. 1, 2012 and Jan. 17, 2013, it also identified an additional 1,962 that went uncaught in the region in the same period.

    DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and other Obama administration officials have stated repeatedly in the last few months that the southwestern border is secure.

    The latest reports, however, had some key members of congress pressing for more answers on border security.

    House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and committee member Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) wrote a letter to the Napolitano on April 5 asking for more information to support the agency’s claims.

    “Recent reports indicate that the Department of Homeland Security is apprehending less than half of illegal border crossers in certain sectors and that aerial technology has revealed huge gaps in our border security efforts, McCaul and Miller wrote, quoting the Los Angeles Times story. “These revelations are in stark contrast to the administration’s declaration that the border is more secure than ever due to greater resources having been deployed to the region, and that lower rates of apprehensions signify fewer individuals are crossing. Therefore, we are writing to request the data behind the Administration’s assertion.”

    McCaul and Miller noted that “significant funding” for more Border Patrol agents has been made available and that 700 miles of fencing, as well as other technologies, have been deployed to stop illegal migrants from entering the country since DHS was created. The added, however, that DHS hasn’t been able to quantify how those resources have resulted in a more secure border. “However, we do not know if additional resources have produced better results.”

    McCaul and Miller said that while “the administration touts its success, it has been unable to answer the fundamental question: How effective are we at keeping illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and potential terrorists our of our country given this enormous investment?”

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