Going after easy targets

TSA subpoenas, threatens two bloggers who published non-classified airline security directive

On Friday, December 25, following the incident in which a Nigerian man attempted to blow up a US-bound flight, the TSA issued an urgent, non-classified security directive to thousands of contacts around the world—airlines, airports, and so on. On Saturday, December 26, airlines and airports around the world further circulated that emailed document and began implementing the procedures described. On Sunday December 27, two bloggers published the content of the TSA directive online (some portions had already been showing up on airline websites). And on Tuesday, December 29, Special Agents from the TSA’s Office of Inspection showed up at the homes of bloggers Steven Frischling and Christopher Elliott, and interrogated each on where they obtained the document. Both bloggers received civil subpoenas.

As far as I can tell, these guys didn’t do anything wrong, either legally wrong or ethically wrong. Nothing at all. Maybe I’m missing something, so point it out for me if I am.

Meanwhile, the day before the first bomb attack I posted on GunPundit that I didn’t think a press release about new Federal Air Marshal guns was a big deal, but that other “improperly redacted” information posted by the TSA itself, including information about security scanner weaknesses and the size of wire that was undetectable, WAS a big deal.

Why no heavy-handed response to their own leaks but they jump all over a couple of bloggers who posted already-public information?

Could it be because they’re basically idiots? Just a thought.

Also, they declared that they’ve had a “very good year.”

Finally, White House takes four days to respond to terror attack, but responds to Cheney criticism in matter of hours?

Actually, it’s hard to tell whether these are cases of going after “easy targets” instead of hard ones, or if they’ve just got a different set of enemies than they should. Probably a combination of the two.


  1. Could it be because they’re basically idiots?

    It’s easy to think that when you’re standing in an hour-long queue at the airport and taking off your shoes and belt and doing all the rest of that stuff. I know I sure think that.

    But TSA is made up of reasonably smart guys at the decision making level.

    – Their incentives suck. They can’t help that, they are a government agency.

    – The job they are stuck with is pretty much impossible: the bad guys only have to get lucky once. They have to be lucky all the time.

  2. Brian: Are you trying to throw a wet blanket on a perfectly good rant?!? LOL!

    I actually do sympathize with their task, and I suspect that a lot of them, maybe even nearly all of them, are hard-working and dedicated to a pretty thankless duty.

    I don’t have a big problem with the security measures, to be honest. Sure, they’re a complete hassle and hard to appreciate when you’re going through them. But I am willing to put up with anything that is required to get the job done, and I think most people would agree.

    What I have trouble with is that so much of what they get press for is seems outlandishly political. Going after these bloggers? That’s crazy. The absolute head-in-the-sand stand against profiling? Stupid.

    I think it’s the political side of the business that’s making all the trouble. If they’re making an honest effort to do their job, that’s fine. But the political grandstanding is unacceptable. And the direction they seem to be getting from the nation’s upper management is making them look even worse. Maybe it’s a case of politicians trying to do the generals’ jobs, in which case the TSA looks bad, performs badly, and fails through no fault of their own.

    For all my ranting about the TSA or militarized police and such, I am quite supportive of our law enforcement agencies in principle and hope they succeed. But just like when the local PD does boneheaded things that seem opposed to personal safety or privacy, I’m fed up with the petty things we’ve been seeing from the TSA and DHS with so little in the way of apparent security improvement.

    But your point that just flat out calling them all idiots is wrong is a good one.

  3. I’m a white male 55 year old contractor. My employers, in all to frequent fits of brutal efficiency, purchase last minute tickets (last minute one way tickets for initial deployments and EOM return to CONUS) so I’m constantly flagged for “extra sauce and pickels” while going through screening. It’s not the fault of the screeners………….they’re just following their rules and doing their jobs. It is bone headed policy set far above their pay grades to hassle people completely outside the bad guy demographic, and a waste of valuable limited security time per travelor during times of high volume travel.

    Does that mean that no one outside the current 3 to 4 common terrorist parameters will NEVER show up with malice in their shrunken little hard hearts? Of course not. Sooner or later that will happen; so a base line of good screening practice that dynamicly changes in anticipation of changing terrorist technique is an absolute requirement.

    Security policy, procedure, and practice all need constant review and modification to accomodate changing circumstance and lessons learned.

    SHARE THE INFORMATION, STUPID! Complemented by religious follow up to ensure the proper responses and reactions to the information HAS ACTUALLY BEEN TAKEN!

    Stop wasitng valuable limited security staff time on target/victim groups so it doesn’t look like were picking on high threat suspect groups.

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