TSA Admits International Security Interview Program After Corbett Lawsuit …Plus Secret TSA Document!

For the first time, the TSA has publicly acknowledged its “international security interview program” — a program where U.S. citizens traveling from foreign countries are questioned by security contractors before being allowed to board planes home — in a court filing in response to my lawsuit against the program:

The petition for review challenges the lawfulness of an international security interview program, pursuant to which airlines flying to the United States pose certain questions to passengers before permitting them to board.

As relevant here, TSA has issued an “Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP)” that incorporates TSA-approved screening protocols. See http://www.tsa.gov/stakeholders/commercial-airlines (last accessed Mar. 26, 2015). The AOSSP is designated as Sensitive Security Information under 49 C.F.R. Part 1520, and has not been publicly released. However, it is correct that, as the petition for review contends, the AOSSP sets out the requirements for air carrier screening of passengers at foreign airports before those passengers are admitted to the secure area of the aircraft and transported to the United States.

To have implemented an entirely new screening program in complete secret with passengers having no notice of a requirement to comply is absurd. To have the contents of that program be a requirement that you talk about your travel plans or face being unable to return to your home country is unconstitutional.

Shhh... this is a secret!!
Shhh… this is a secret!!
How did they get away with this? By ordering the airlines to do their dirty work for them, and then marking the order as “Sensitive Security Information” (SSI), which means the airlines aren’t allowed to talk about it. This Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP) they speak of is a lengthy document containing security rules that airlines are required to follow but are prohibited from sharing.

However, unlike other pieces of SSI (such as the document that implemented the nude body scanners), this document not kept internal to TSA; rather it is distributed to every U.S.-flagged airline with planes over a certain size. The TSA isn’t exactly known for keeping its secrets by itself, but factor in the now thousands of employees and contractors who have access to the AOSSP, and I was fairly easily (and legally, on my end at least) able to obtain a version of it (although it would be nice if someone leaked the latest one to me 🙂 ).

I believe the public has an interest in seeing at least portions of the AOSSP, as it effectively restricts their personal rights, and it does so without notice or meaningful opportunity for review. I gave the TSA first notice of the leak of their information (as I’ve always done, including when I published my video beating the nude body scanners and when I learned that the 11th Circuit had leaked secret documents in my case), and I may in the past, present, or future disclose what I’ve uncovered to attorneys for relevant civil rights organizations. For now, I won’t be disclosing the document or how I obtained it to allow the TSA time to plug their leak, as I believe some information that should legitimately be secret for security reasons was obtainable by me and would be obtainable by others should I disclose the method and/or the contents. (Note: The document was not sent to me by a source in confidence — if it were, I would protect the source to my greatest ability.) I do wish the government would stop relying on security through obscurity and start implementing real, non-invasive, community-reviewed security measures to keep us safe.

In the meantime, I will continue to fight against secret TSA policies that continue to erode our rights.

Want to donate to the fight against TSA assholery? PayPal or Bitcoin: 15ftA2938sp7Mnsi8U7wYVmEtd4BRbFnkT

24 thoughts on “TSA Admits International Security Interview Program After Corbett Lawsuit …Plus Secret TSA Document!

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    1. I cannot see how to leave a comment or contact Mr Corbett, no well versed in Blogging…sorry to commander your post.

      It was mentioned that we have “the right to re-enter out own country” (unharnessed??)..the right to remain silent and a few other rights that are frequently exploited or ignored by TSA. Please, please someone with a law degree state specifically what these rights are exactly and cite law. It would help those who want to object to unreasonable questioning, etc.

      I’ve personally felt customs from Canada to the US were giving me a hard time about entering my own country. Customs can be pretty nosy, I had no idea I had any rights in that regard.

      What was that about a star or sticker on a passport…seems like I’ve read something about stars in history, being sewn onto clothes, yeah, and travel restricted…what was that again??

      I am with the writer of the previous…a single day of unified boycott of airline travel would bring them to their senses…who’s the customer here??? Us! I have no idea how to pull it off, but there are probably people who do. One day, that’s all it would take…and flying could be fun again…remember when flying was fun?? When getting on a plane was fun? When meals on a plane were free??? Not good, but free…now you have to bring your own like some refugee. Remember when you could bring all the luggage you wanted….FOR FREE! Why did that stop? No doubt to fly cargo that’s probably not even x-rayed or inspected.

      I wish someone would create an airline called “take your chances airline”…normal security, no molestation, leave your shoes on…remember when you could leave your shoes on???

      Your plane has a greater chance of crashing due to mechanical or human error. It’s hard to understand what the whole TSA thing is about.

      At the Denver airport one cannot stop at all to wait to pick up a passenger, you can’t park. The illogic is that you might have a bomb in your car…there is a parking area just a short distance from this passenger pickup area where you can’t even stop briefly…no one has their thinking cap on!


  1. Why has the TSA been lying to Americans about showing their ID’s?

    Documents newly released to us by the TSA strongly suggest that the TSA has been lying about whether people are “allowed” by the TSA to fly without showing ID, and that decisions about whether to allow travelers to fly without ID are being made arbitrarily, on the basis of irrelevant and unreliable commercial data and/or at the “discretion” of individual field-level TSA staff. The TSA documents also show that, at least for the limited sample of data initially released, the “false-positive” rate of watch-list matches is 100%.

    TSA signs at airports says that passengers are “required” to show ID. But the TSA has repeatedly told courts at all levels — from in camera (secret) submissions to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Gilmore v. Gonzales in 2006 to public testimony of the TSA’s witness in the (unsuccessful) state court frame-up of Phil Mocek in Albuquerque in 2011 — that these and other official TSA notices to passengers are false, that ID is not required to fly, and that the TSA does have (secret) “procedures” that allow people to fly without having or showing ID.

    The TSA’s actions are equally bipolar. People who say they have lost their ID cards or had them stolen are “allowed” to fly every day. But people who the TSA deems (for secret or not-so-secret reasons, or completely arbitrarily) to be”suspicious” or “uncooperative” are routinely subjected to retaliation and summary sanctions including denial of their right to travel. Mr. Mocek, for example, was both prevented from boarding the flight for which he had a valid ticket, and falsely arrested by local police at the behest of TSA staff, when he tried to fly without ID and to document the process that the TSA claimed would have allowed him to do so.

    What’s the real story? From our close reading of the available evidence, it appears that:

    1. There are no publicly-disclosed “rules” (and probably not even any unambiguous secret rules) defining what is or is not permitted or required of travelers at TSA checkpoints, or what conditions the TSA imposes on the exercise of the right to travel by air.

    2.The TSA claims to have the legal authority, and in practice exercises actual power, to determine who to allow to fly, and who not to allow to fly, in an entirely secret, standardless, and arbitrary manner, at its sole discretion, which discretion is often delegated to front-line TSA staff.


  2. Homeland Security Will Finally Admit To Banned Flyers That They’re On The No Fly List:

    Good news has arrived for fliers who’d like to know exactly what the hell is going on when they’re forbidden to board an airplane.

    The government will no longer refuse to confirm or deny that persons who are prevented from boarding commercial aircraft have been placed on the “No Fly List,” and such persons will have new opportunities to challenge the denial of boarding, the Department of Justice announced yesterday in a court filing.


  3. Has TSA once again completely ignore all provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act?

    Seems TSA is from a Communist country, not a free country like America claims to be.

  4. DHS Policy Turns Customs & TSA Agents Into Porn Police:

    Under 19 U.S.C. § 1305, the import of “any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, [etc.]” … “or other article which is obscene or immoral” is unlawful. CBP interprets this to mean that it is illegal to bring pornography into the United States, even if the possession of that pornography inside of the US is completely legal.

    Despite the hilarious futility of sealing our borders against obscene articles from abroad in the age of broadband internet, documents published by Government Attic suggest that CBP takes this responsibility seriously.​


  5. U.S. Border Patrol Will Taser & Tackle You If You Appear Nervous:

    The two agents told her they had ordered into the secondary checkpoint at Waddington, which lies on the border of Canada, because she “appeared nervous.”

    But she didn’t sound nervous in the video she posted on Facebook as she peppered them with questions about her detainment.

    Although they found no drugs in her car, she said she may now be charged with assault on a federal officer, even though it is clear from the video that he had attacked her!

  6. Court: U.S. Border Patrol Search Of Businessman’s Laptop ‘Unreasonable’

    A federal court has ruled that the government’s search of a traveling businessman’s laptop at the California border was unreasonable and violated his privacy.

    The ruling was a sharply worded rebuke of the Obama administration’s treatment of laptops as containers like any other that can be searched without a warrant and without time limits to protect national security.

    The search was unreasonable because it “was supported by so little suspicion of ongoing or imminent criminal activity” and “was so invasive of Kim’s privacy,” she wrote.

    President Barack Obama and his predecessors have maintained that people crossing into U.S. territory aren’t protected by the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. That policy is intended to allow intrusive searches that keep drugs, child pornography and other illegal imports out of the country. But it also means the government could, at least in theory, target travelers for no reason other than political advocacy, for example.

    The American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups have argued that the policy has been used to build criminal cases against individuals when the government can’t obtain a warrant.

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