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Thursday, December 31, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

…harass travel bloggers.

Via Wired:  TSA Threatens Blogger Who Posted New Screening Directive

Two bloggers received home visits from Transportation Security Administration agents Tuesday after they published a new TSA directive that revises screening procedures and puts new restrictions on passengers in the wake of a recent bombing attempt by the so-called underwear bomber.

Special agents from the TSA’s Office of Inspection interrogated two U.S. bloggers, one of them an established travel columnist, and served them each with a civil subpoena demanding information on the anonymous source that provided the TSA document.

The document, which the two bloggers published within minutes of each other Dec. 27, was sent by TSA to airlines and airports around the world and described temporary new requirements for screening passengers through Dec. 30, including conducting “pat-downs” of legs and torsos. The document, which was not classified, was posted by numerous bloggers. Information from it was also published on some airline websites.

If the documents were not classified, had been widely disseminated to begin with, and portions of which had been published on the internet, why harass two bloggers?

If anything, once information has been sent out electronically to hundreds of sources, the ability of the TSA to control its distribution is limited (to the point of zero, in fact).

This smacks of an unpleasant combination of government “doing something” and the general abuse of authority that tends to be commensurate with attempts at domestic security.

One of the bloggers/travel writers served posted a copy of the subpoena here: click.

The AP write-up is here:  TSA subpoenas bloggers, demands names of sources.

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2 Responses to “When you Can’t Get the Terrorists…”

  1. Eric Lindholm Says:

    They’re harassing bloggers for the same reason the IRS goes after small businesses instead of lawyered-up big corporations: it’s easier.

  2. Max Lybbert Says:

    They eventually backed down. I understood that the TSA was trying to find who leaked the document. That is, regardless of how they interacted with the bloggers, they weren’t in a position to actually do anything to the bloggers for publishing the memo. Instead they were trying to find the federal employee who leaked the memo.

    Either way, it was morally wrong. It’s also the kind of thing to expect from bureaucracies, and especially from the legal departments of bureaucracies.

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