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Professional Troublemaker ®

 Jonathan Corbett, Civil Rights Advocate

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TSA – Video Journalism

Jonathan Corbett to Present Nude Body Scanner Failures to Congress, File US Supreme Court Petition, on May 22nd

I’m excited to announce that I will be presenting my findings as seen in my How To Get Anything Through TSA Nude Body Scanners viral YouTube video to Congress on May 22nd, 2012, in conjunction with Freedom to Travel USA, a traveler’s rights advocacy group. Additionally, I will be filing my petition to the US Supreme Court on the same day, asking the court to review whether we have the right to a full trial in US District Court when we as private citizens challenge the constitutionality of government action.

Please help us by calling and e-mailing your representatives (please do both — e-mails are easily ignored!) and asking them to send staffers or come in person to our presentation. The event will be held in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 402, at 10:00 AM. FTTUSA has created a formal invite, and members of the general public may also attend, space permitting (RSVP at the e-mail on the invite).

We’re getting somewhere, guys!

–Jon

Help The Next Video Happen: Share This Blog With a TSA Screener!

I’ve been getting lots of e-mails from TSA screeners reporting even more failures of the TSA, including one today that says they were told to make the pat-downs rougher if a traveller was deemed to be rude (“resistence” would be “met” harder). I’d like to again encourage you all to share this with anyone who works for the TSA, whether it be over the Internet or by passing out information in airports: I WANT YOUR STORY!

Though I would love it if you would come on camera and do an interview, once again, I will do everything I can to keep you anonymous if that’s what it takes to get your story (even moreso than Jennifer, who was happy to have her voice broadcast, but wanted to avoid becoming famous for the leak at this time). Short of a subpoena, I won’t release your info, and if you want to protect yourself against that, simply e-mail me from Starbucks with a free e-mail account created just for this purpose (don’t forget to check for a reply!). My e-mail for TSA screeners is: jon [at] fourtentech.com

TSA Admits $1B Nude Body Scanner Fleet Worthless!

My last video demonstrated how easy it is to take a metal object through TSA nude body scanners undetected.

In this video, I interviewed an actual TSA screener to hear more about how these machines are an epic fail. “Jennifer,” who asked me not to use her real name or face, has been on the front lines of the TSA’s checkpoints for the last 4 years.

Please share this video with your family, friends, and most importantly, elected officials in federal government. Make sure they understand that your vote is contingent on them fixing the abuse that 200,000 passengers face from the TSA on a daily basis. If you are (or know) a TSA screener who has seen abuse in the TSA, please contact me (below)!

My legal battle against the TSA’s nude body scanner and pat-down molestation program continues in court, soon with a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. If you’d like to donate to this effort, send PayPal to: jon [at] fourtentech.com

I’d like to thank:

Travel Underground – http://www.travelunderground.org/

Freedom to Travel USA – http://fttusa.org/

Legislators who have stood up to the TSA – especially Dr. Ron Paul & Sen. Rand Paul

…and all those who have both publicly and privately stood up to the TSA.

Add me on Twitter: @tsaoutourpants (no “of”)

Transcript:

In the video I released last month, I showed the world that it’s trivial to beat the TSA’s nude body scanners; all it takes is simply strapping a metal object to your side. I referred to the program as a “giant fraud,” and I chose those words carefully: it was not an oversight, but rather the TSA knowingly imposed these virtual strip searches on us despite the fact that they don’t work.

Now how can I be so sure that the TSA knew that the scanners were broken? Well, in the first video I referred to other countries who take aviation security more seriously than we do had rejected the scanners years ago. Over the last year, we’ve also seen almost the entirety of Europe has backtracked on the body scanners. And there have been dozens of research studies that have shown vulnerabilities in the technology, of which the TSA must surely be aware.

But most importantly, I know because TSA employees have told me so. In the last year and a half since I filed my lawsuit against the scanners and the groping, I’ve received hundreds of e-mails and thousands of comments on my blog, and some from actual TSA employees who have seen the scanners fail first-hand. One of them was nice enough to sit down for an interview with me last week. “Jennifer” has been working with the Transportation Security Administration for the last 4 years as a screener, and had this to tell me:

[Video Interview Segment]
Jon: Were there specific times where this machine didn’t work, for either someone testing it, or a passenger went through and it was determined that they went through with…
Jennifer: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely.
Jon: Metal objects?
Jennifer: Metal, non-metal.
Jon: Big, small?
Jennifer: Both.
Jon: Things like wallets I think you mentioned to me?
Jennifer: Wallets.
Jon: So you’d send someone through the scanner and you’d see a bulge in their pocket, but the scanner would show nothing?
Jennifer: Mmhmm.
Jon: Things during training?
Jennifer: Absolutely.
Jon: What would you test it with when you were testing the machines?
Jennifer: There were different props: guns, knives, bags of powder that were supposed to resemble explosive material.
Jon: Sometimes these would just go through completely undetected?
Jennifer: Absolutely.

Now if it wasn’t scary enough that the TSA deployed these machines knowing they could take simulated bombs through them, Jennifer tells me that they were forcing screeners to run these radiation machines who hadn’t, according to the TSA’s own policies, been properly trained:

[Video Interview Segment]
Jon: They tried to send you to the machines, and you said, ‘Hold on, I’m not certified.’
Jennifer: Right.
Jon: And then in December I guess you tried the same thing and they said, ‘Too bad?’
Jennifer: We were forced to work on these machines. So basically, there were so few of us trained to work on the machines, they basically forced us.
Jon: So they didn’t care if you were certified or not?
Jennifer: No, I actually went to my supervisor — or a supervisor — the first day. I and another officer had this concern, that, you know, ‘Look, we’ve never worked on this particular machine, we don’t know what to do’ and his answer was, ‘Sorry, we don’t have enough staffing, you’re going to have to work on it.’
Jon: Certified or not, just get on the machine and make the best of it?
Jennifer: Yep, ‘just have your co-workers help you.’

After Jennifer was repeatedly ignored when she brought these serious issues up with management, she contacted her representatives in Congress for assistance… after which the TSA promptly began the process of firing her! A process, by the way, which took the TSA three months, during which Jennifer was forced to sit around on the taxpayer’s dime and do absolutely nothing. Fortunately, Jennifer turns in her uniform today.

[Video Interview Segment]
Jon: You wrote to Congress about the problems you saw in the TSA.
Jennifer: I did.
Jon: What happened?
Jennifer: I sent my letter on Jan. 1, and I came back from sick leave about a week later, and I was immediately removed from screening duties.
Jon: So you sent a letter to a Congressman — or to several — saying ‘Hey, there’s a problem with the TSA,’ and the TSA’s response was… retaliatory would you say?
Jennifer: Yes.
Jon: Was that the end of your screening duties… have you been back to screening since?
Jennifer: No.

This is why the TSA sucks. Because good employees who point out when the public is being put at risk aren’t listened to, they aren’t promoted – they’re fired! …and what’s left are the pizza-box employees that strip-search grannies, steal from your bags, throw hot coffee on pilots, and shoot up my neighborhood.

And every time another TSA employee is arrested – we’re up to at least 60 in the last 12 months – the TSA spouts off on their blog about the professionalism of their employees, just as when they’re caught on video molesting children at airports, they defend their employees’ fondlings as “by the book” – that book being the “Screening Checkpoint Standard Operating Procedures” or “SOP.” The SOP is the TSA’s secret guide as to how TSA employees are supposed to do screening as airports. The only problem is, TSA employees never actually read that book!

[Video Interview Segment]
Jennifer: Supposedly there is an SOP manual at every checkpoint. I’ve never seen it.
Jon: So you wouldn’t know where to go to find this book?
Jennifer: No, no.
Jon: *laughs*
Jennifer: I know, you can’t make this stuff up, you really can’t.
Jon: Did you read the SOP at any point, during training, or…
Jennifer: You mean initially…
Jon: Did you ever read the SOP from cover-to-cover?
Jennifer: Oh no, no… I’ve never read… no.

Absolutely stunning. I’d like to thank Jennifer for exposing this, and if you’re an attorney that would like to contact Jennifer, send me a message. I’d also like to encourage any of the few good TSA employees left who have seen abuse in the TSA to contact me – see the notes on this video for how to do so, anonymously if you’d prefer.

But there you have it. The TSA was aware of the fatal flaws in the nude body scanner program, yet knowingly defrauded the American taxpayer into buying these machines, as well as travellers from across the globe into posing naked “for their safety.” Well no more, guys — we’re done posing naked for the TSA. It’s time for the nude body scanner program to be immediately ended, for TSA Administrator John Pistole to be fired, and for the TSA to be dismantled as soon as possible. I encourage you to make this an election year issue and demand from your candidates a strong commitment to restoring our civil rights – and our sanity at airports. I also encourage anyone who’s asked to go through a body scanner to simply say, “I opt out,” and refuse to participate in this security theatre.

Until next time.

New Video Coming Soon ;)

I’ve been working on producing a new video, which will be on the same level of epicness as the last one in exposing the TSA — and especially the nude body scanner program — as the giant fraud that it is. I’m pleased to announce that my new video will be released early next week.

No hints, but I promise you’ll like it. 🙂 Unless, of course, you’re a TSA supporter, in which case… well, apologies in advance.

TSA Employees: Tell Me Your Story

Based on some messages I’ve received, I’ve learned the following:

  1. Many TSA employees hate their job, often due to management treating them poorly.
  2. Many screeners hate using the nude body scanners, often because they are worried about the radiation.
  3. Many screeners hate giving pat-downs, because the procedures require them to do ridiculous things (example: pat down someone’s hair even if it is short and obviously not concealing something) or simply because they don’t like touching other people’s junk.
  4. Many TSA employees actually care about security and TSA abuse and want to see things fixed.

If you know a TSA employee, frequent a message board that has TSA employees, happen to meet a TSA employee, or have any other way of sharing this article with TSA employees, please do so. If you are a TSA employee, please e-mail me at jon@fourtentech.com with your story. We can talk for attribution (with your name behind it), on camera, or completely anonymously. (I won’t disclose your name without your consent unless required to by court order. If you’re worried about court orders, simply take a laptop to any free WiFi location [airport, coffee shop, etc.] and create a new Gmail account without using your real info just for this purpose… but remember to check it for my reply!)

Things I’m particularly interested in hearing about include:

  • Body scanners not detecting things they should have detected
  • Being asked to work on equipment that you were not trained/certified to work on
  • Management knowingly ignoring security risks
  • Any kind of malfeasance (accepting bribes, giving positions/promotions to unqualified friends/family, lying in paperwork, etc.

If you know that the TSA is doing the wrong thing, be a whistleblower. Again, whether you want to remain unnamed or want your face in the news, please contact me at the e-mail address above.

While I cannot prevent you from sending me Sensitive Security Information (SSI), nothing in this post should be construed as asking you for SSI. Please follow the law. 🙂

FOIA Request Denied: CLE Airport Refuses Release of Video

I got the following from Cleveland in response to one of my Freedom of Information Act requests requesting checkpoint video of me defeating the nude body scanners:

Information contained in the Airport security system, including video surveillance tapes at Hopkins Airport, contains security sensitive information that is controlled under 49 C.F.R. parts 15 and 1520. No part of this record may be disclosed to persons without a need to know, as defined in 49 C.F.R. parts 15 and 1520, except with the written permission of the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration or the Secretary of Transportation. Unauthorized release may result in civil penalty or other action. Additionally, the release of this information is not authorized under the Ohio Public Records law, in that this information is considered security material and represents an exclusion that exists under the law.

It amazes me how anyone could possibly consider a video of a public area to be “sensitive security information” — after all, anyone could have legally taken a video of me at the checkpoint, so why is the government’s video any more sensitive than that?

I sent them an appeal letter, which is required before I sue them for the video. I also discussed the issue with them on the phone, and they told me they’d look into it. We’ll see.

Let the Freedom of Information Act Requests Begin

After the release of my video, two important issues came up:

  1. People (including myself) want to see a whole video of me walking through the checkpoints, and
  2. People (especially myself!) want to see the threatening e-mails that TSA Spokeswoman Sari Koshetz sent to journalists

The solution: Freedom of Information Act requests for both the security cameras that caught (or should have caught) me going through the TSA’s nude body scanners with an undetected metal object, as well as for the nice e-mails that Sari has been sending around, all of which are public records.

My requests are attached below, and I will of course keep you updated on their progress. The TSA has a pattern of ignoring or conspiring to hide documents that relate to my FOIA requests, but I’m not particularly worried about having to take the TSA to court if that happens again. 🙂

Scanner Video FOIA TSA (.pdf)
Scanner Video FOIA FLL (.pdf)
Scanner Video FOIA CLE (.pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m doing my best to read through all the comments, both here and around “the interwebs” (as TSA Blogger Bob would put it), and wanted to address some of the more common ones here:

Q: Can’t they just rotate you 90° and take another scan?
A: Not logistically.  Adding a second scan will double the amount of time per scan.  This might not seem like a big deal, but you’d need double the machines and double the staff to handle the traffic, increasing an $8B/year, 60,000-large agency to who knows how big.  There’s also not enough physical space at the airports to accommodate this.  Additionally, you’d be receiving twice the dose of radiation (and no matter what they say, it indeed has the potential to be harmful, not because of the amount, but because it is focused entirely on the skin), not to mention twice the false positive rate.  The false positive rate is already estimated at around 40%, and taking a second scan would increase that to 64%.  If two-thirds of people are going to need a pat-down anyway, what’s the point?  Finally, doing a profile view would require a software upgrade, especially for the ATD systems, which will take significant time to build, test, deploy, and train for.

Q. Would it work with the new scanners with the “stick figure” images?  Don’t they swivel around your body and create a 3-D image?
A. The video shows me going through BOTH the older Rapiscan backscatter x-rays (at FLL) as well as the brand new L-3 Provision millimeter wave scanners with Automated Threat Detection (“stick figure technology,” at CLE).  This exploit works with ALL scanners the TSA currently has.  The L-3 scanners simulate a 3-D image, but do not image you from all sides, and thus the (non-)threat item does not make it into the simulation.  This is additionally aided by the pose the TSA has you adopt.  With arms above your head, a the sides of a button down shirt will actually be pulled away from your body if you’re of average or thin build.  The farther the object is from your body, the less likely a front/back image is to catch it contrasting against your body.

Q. How do we know this is for real?
A. Well, the non-denial by the TSA’s official response on their blog is a good start (read the comments — they’re great!).  I’ll be submitting a Freedom of Information Act request on Monday for a copy of the security video showing me going through the scanners, which should fairly conclusively show that the object travelled through the scanners with me.  But those requests take time, so if you’re in a hurry, I do think the video posted clear enough instructions on how to replicate my test. 🙂  Remember, the machines have very frequent false positives, so in order to increase my likelihood of success, I wore a plain shirt (no fancy patterns, smallest buttons possible) and used thin fabric and single-stitched sewing for the pocket, and made sure the test item was 100% metal on the outside — no plastic, rubber, or glass.  Also, to be clear, I’m not advocating or inciting anyone to try this — I’m just saying it would be possible.

Q. Are you worried that terrorists will take advantage of the alleged flaw?
A. We have this big security flaw, which is a hole that can either be exposed by the TSA in an investigation, which obviously hasn’t happened yet; by a citizen investigation, which has now happened; or by a terrorist doing an investigation, which is what we don’t want to happen.  By identifying this flaw, we can fix it before that third option happens.  Also, the TSA was provided with a copy of my video before it was published publicly.

Q. Why did you state that we should privatize airport security?
A. There are lots of reasons why we need to privatize airport security, but before I get into them, I want to be clear that my priority is to get our right to a reasonable search (no nude scanners, no “touching people’s junk”) restored to airports, regardless of whether the screeners are government or non-government.  Longer term, I would love to see the TSA’s role reduced.  First, privatizing security means that if there is a problem, I can vote with my money.  If an airline decides to have abusive screeners, I’ll fly another airline that cares.  Second, I do believe (and as best I know, there is little argument showing otherwise) that we can do private security for less money than government security.  Third, as a political preference, I prefer my government to be as small as possible.  A 60,000 employee agency to secure airports is absolutely absurd, and ends up being full of waste (see point #2) and less agile.  Fourth, in having sued the TSA, I can tell you that they hide behind immunity that is only available to the government, whereas private companies would be more easily brought to justice for abuse.

Q. What’s the story with your TSA lawsuits, and how are they going?
A. My original lawsuit against the TSA (compilation of all documents) was filed in November 2010, which seeks injunctive relief (no money) to force the TSA to stop photographing us naked and touching our genitals.  It was dismissed from U.S. District Court under an obscure law that requires “orders” of the TSA to be “appealed” (to the Courts of Appeals) rather than the subject of a new action in the District Courts.  While I argued that Congress intended an “order” to be the result of an agency proceeding (for example, revoking one’s security credentials after allegations of impropriety, whereby one would be entitled to argue their side to the TSA, present evidence, etc.), the TSA argued basically that any decision they make that they write down is an “order” and insulates them from review by District Courts.  So why not just file in the Court of Appeals?  There are no jury trials there, no witness stand, and no right to discovery.  We have the right to all of these things when we question the constitutionality of our government’s actions, and I will be appealing this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court shortly.

I also filed a second lawsuit earlier this month as a result of being kicked out of FLL airport.  During that process, the TSA unlawfully detained me, threatened me with arrest, threatened me with forcible search, conducted a retaliatory search of my belongings, unlawfully took my personal information, and then conspired with the airport operator to hide the videos of this.  Luckily, I was recording the entire thing using my cell phone sitting a few feet away.

Q. How can I sue the TSA?
A. If the TSA has wronged you, it is possible to sue them and win.  I’m not an attorney and cannot give you legal advice, but I can suggest that some of the first things you need to do are to file Freedom of Information Act requests to get any evidence (especially video), and to file a notice of claim with the agency (you have limited time!).  Read up on the Federal Tort Claims Act and Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents for more details.  As best I am aware, you must file in federal court — your local small claims court won’t do.  You should be aware that it’s a long process, and not worth starting if you don’t intend to follow through with significant research and writing, or pay a lawyer to do so.

Q. What can I do to help?
A. Contact your Representatives and Senators and ask them to take a look at the video and then remove all funding for the body scanners.   Additionally, there’s a donation link to contribute towards helping my lawsuit seeking injunction against the TSA’s nude body scanners and genital groping make it to the U.S. Supreme Court for the win.  Filing is expensive, printing and mailing is expensive (in SCOTUS, documents must be filed with 40 copies — no joke!), and I’ve taken hundreds of hours off of work to get things done so far.  It’s important that we go after the TSA from all angles and simultaneously prove to Congress, the courts, and the public that the scanners are unsafe, ineffective, and invasive, and your support — either financially, in the form of calling your representatives, protesting, or whatever you can and choose to do — helps this to happen.  A huge thank you to those who have donated so far — it’s been incredible to see!

Q. What are your “official” accounts?
A. “tsaoutofourpants” here on WordPress, Google, Y Combinator, Reddit, Blogger (TSA Official Blog), and I’ve posted on several smaller sites as well.  Follow me on Twitter using “tsaoutourpants” (no “of”).

Q. What will you do next?
A. The ball is in the TSA’s court.  They can’t ignore this — the mainstream media coverage is just beginning!  I’ve been in touch with some of the larger MSM outlets yesterday, and additionally, I’ve been in touch with the offices of several members of Congress.  We’ll see what the TSA does, and take it from there.

BREAKING: TSA Threatens Mainstream Media Not To Cover Story

I’ve been on the phone all day for the last 2 days with reporters and journalists of all kinds, including the big bad MSM, and one South Florida reporter told me that he had been “strongly cautioned” by the TSA not to cover my viral YouTube video showing TSA nude body scanners to be completely worthless. Absolutely unbelievable:

Update: The name of the TSA spokeswoman who attempted to intimidate this journalist is Sari Koshetz.

Update 2: Second journalist comes forward in comments on this post: SmarterTravel March 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm | #11 Reply | Quote | Edit We were also “strongly cautioned” not to cover the story. We did anyway at SmarterTravel: http://tinyurl.com/7te5wj8

The TSA is clearly no fan of the 4th Amendment, nor of 5th Amendment due process rights, and now this blatant attempt to manipulate the free press with “strong caution” hits at Amendment the First. Why strong caution? Are there repercussions for journalists that fail to heed this “advice?” Because, you know, if I were a member of the free press and the federal government asked me to censor myself, I’d happily comply . . . . . . . . . riiight.

I have news for the federal government: Americans will not take censorship in any form. We thought we made this clear when you tried to force SOPA on us.

So what should we do about this? If you’re a journalist who has received any kind of similar warning, please contact me. Everyone else, please take a moment to contact your local mainstream media outlets (Fox, ABC, NBC, CNN, etc.) to request that they cover the original story. The Internet has been absolutely amazing as have large alternative programs (Alex Jones, for example) and I do believe that we have successfully spread the word. But, if the TSA doesn’t want the MSM to cover it, there’s probably a reason, so let’s take the battle there!

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