Last January, I exposed the TSA’s International Security Interview Program, a secret, never before disclosed TSA mandate requiring U.S.-based airlines to question passengers before returning them to the states. I encountered the program before a flight from London to New York, and I filed suit against this unconstitutional restriction on our rights to travel and to remain silent after the TSA confirmed to me by e-mail that failure to comply = denied boarding:
While often times a first filing by the opposing party is a pleading responsive to the complaint (in District Court) or the filing of an “administrative record” (in the Court of Appeals), the court, on its own, asked the parties to explain whether there was proper jurisdiction, and the first filing by the TSA not only admitted jurisdiction, but confirmed that it mandates airlines have such security programs and that the airline “must refuse to transport” those who don’t comply:
Perhaps realizing that this policy is entirely indefensible, a couple weeks later, without prompting from me or the court, it sent the court a letter to “clarify” any “confusing” statements it made to the court in the previous filing:
Well now, that’s better. But what does happen if you refuse? That question is entirely unanswered, but it seems clear that the TSA previously had a policy of forcing denial of boarding, and has backpedaled on it now that it has been exposed. A huge win.
So, I made the TSA the following settlement offer: detail what compliance passengers are required to give, detail what happens if they refuse, and specifically say that boarding will not be denied. Do this in a public bulletin that you post on your Web site. So far they’ve not responded to my offer, made last week. They probably need time to re-write their policies. 🙂