Accidentally Revealed Document Shows TSA Doesn't Think Terrorists Are Plotting To Attack Airplanes

from the but-the-body-scans-continue dept

Jonathan Corbett, a long-time vocal critic of TSA body scanners, has been engaged in a lawsuit against the government concerning the constitutionality of those scanners. In the course of the case, the TSA gave him classified documents, which he was ordered not to reveal. In using some of that information to make his case, he needed to file two copies of his brief: a public one with classified stuff redacted, and the full brief under seal, for the government and the courts to look at. Just one problem: someone over at Infowars noticed that apparently a clerk at the 11th Circuit appeals court forgot to file the document under seal, allowing them to find out what was under the redactions... Included in there is the following, apparently quoted from the TSA's own statements:
“As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing.”
Elsewhere, the TSA appears to admit that "due to hardened cockpit doors and the willingness of passengers to challenge hijackers," it's unlikely that there's much value in terrorists trying to hijack a plane these days (amusingly, that statement is a clear echo of Bruce Schneier's statement criticizing the TSA's security theater -- suggesting that the TSA flat out knows that airport security is nothing more than such theatrics).

Elsewhere, in the redacted portions, the TSA is quoted as admitting that "there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11."

As Corbett notes in his filing, the entire basis for the nude scanners is that they were somehow necessary to stop terrorists with explosives from getting on planes. Yet, as he makes clear, the TSA knows that there's been little threat of any such attack for quite some time. He also details how the machines are not very good at tracking down explosives, and pretty much everything that has been caught with these machines (such as guns) could be easily found via traditional metal detectors. Further, as noted above, other protections that have nothing to do with the nude scanners are the main reason (which the TSA admits) that terrorists have moved on from targeting airplanes.

Amazingly, it appears that the government forced Corbett to redact the revelation that the TSA's own threat assessments have shown "literally zero evidence that anyone is plotting to blow up an airline leaving from a domestic airport." Corbett argues that this shows why the searches are not reasonable under the 4th Amendment. Corbett also points out that about the only thing the machines seem useful at catching are illegal drugs -- but, as he notes, that's "irrelevant to aviation security." Sure, the government may like the fact that it catches illegal drugs with these machines, but the TSA can't argue it needs the machines for "terrorism" when it knows that's not true, and then tries to keep them just because it finds some narcotics...

While it still seems unlikely that Corbett's lawsuit will actually succeed, he's right that these revelations mean that, at the very least, Congress should be investigating why the TSA insisted that it needed these machines to find terrorists that it now admits aren't actually plotting to attack airplanes.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Why is it redacted

    If we had traffic lights for terrorists, 'amber alert, red alert' why is the equivalent of 'green alert' redacted?

    When it's red or orange it can be reported, but when its green, it must be secret??

     

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  2.  
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    Applesauce, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Obedience Training

    This should put the final nail in the coffin of the illusion of security.

    The purpose of the intrusive TSA BS was always about promoting obedience training for the populace, never about public safety.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 10:16am

    "...someone over at Infowars noticed that apparently a clerk at the 11th Circuit appeals court forgot to file the document under seal..."

    Maybe Mr. clerk decided to do some "accidental" whistle-blowing *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*.

    ...

    Or maybe it was actually an accident.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 10:25am

    If they're finding narcotics with the scanners...

    ...that probably helps out the TSA staff who are on the payrolls of drug dealers.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 10:49am

    Re: Why is it redacted

    Yeah, that's the point. If folks realized there was no genuine threat, then the justification for all sorts of overreaching powers would disappear.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:15am

    As long as the TSA is stuck at the airport, they aren't pulling over all of us at random security checkpoints to check our papers.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Obedience Training

    It's the War on Drugs™. Watch the TV show "Locked Up Abroad" and correlate it to changes in security standards based on the dates of the events in the show. You will see exactly why we take off our shoes, aren't allowed liquids, etc.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Mason Wheeler, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:21am

    Sigh. This is what I've been saying since September freaking 12th! The 9/11 attacks made air travel safer, not riskier, because they exposed a problem and we learned from it, and that trick will never work again.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Michael, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:23am

    In using some of that information to make his case, he needed to file two copies of his brief: a public one with classified stuff redacted, and the full brief under seal, for the government and the courts to look at.

    This is clearly a waste of time. The court has apparently already come to the conclusion that the government is allowed a full look at his briefs.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:28am

    Who's got good eyes?

    The one redacted section isn't redacted very well. Anyone with good eyes that can help read them? On page 43, footnote 15 this is what I can make out:

    "It would be more reasonable to say...9/11... with box cutters on a flight of 200 passengers stood ... hijacking ... in 2013 they would be lucky to survive the beatings they would ... receive by a traveling public that has learned the lessons of 9/11. Further the armored cockpit doors as well as the federal ... pilots with ... make targeting an aircraft ...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:50am

    This is just another way of keeping an eye on who does what, when, and with whom, and how the people can be restricted if wanted!

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Loki, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    George Carlin's rant on airport security is just as accurate today as when he did it back in 2000.

     

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  13.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    As long as the TSA is stuck at the airport, they aren't pulling over all of us at random security checkpoints to check our papers.


    That already happens:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110621/02225414782/tsa-takes-security-theater-road-mobile -groping-teams-can-pop-up-anywhere.shtml

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    I'll take the bus.

    Rape scanners scare me.

     

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  15.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:19pm

    Re: I'll take the bus.

    If by "rape scanners" you mean the people, I agree. The machines don't scare me, but the people running them absolutely do.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: I'll take the bus.

    I think he's referring to the new probes they insert into all of your bodily orifices to make sure there is nothing inside.

     

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  17. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Wolfy, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    The name of the game is acquisition and maintenance of Power.
    Terrorism (Thank you, jewish activists, you fucks. See what you started?) is the perfect excuse. Transparency can be avoided (we don't want them to know our methods and sources, accountability is out (same reason), and you get to have an ever-expanding little fiefdom.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    Re: I'll take the bus.

    TSA has showed up at bus stations too

     

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  19.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    Re:

    In either case, considering the standard response to those who's actions make the government look bad, in his/her shoes I would definitely be looking for a quick plane out of the country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 3:44pm

    The Real Terrorists - horseless buggies

    Tens of thousands die each year in horseless buggy accidents.
    A little over three thousand died on 9/11

    Anyone afraid of terrorists should be deathly afraid to cross the street with all these dangerous horseless buggies everywhere.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Togashi (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Why is it redacted

    Ted: The company has classified this as confidential.

    Linda: But it's a good thing. Why does it need to be confidential?

    Ted: Because, uh, if only bad things were confidential, then every time they labeled something as "confidential," people would know it was bad.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 6:51pm

    based on that statement, you have to conclude TSA, NSA and the other "A's" are being effective.

    And "none KNOWN" does not mean "NONE at all".

    There was probably "none known" before 9/11 too, your point is then is ?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 6:56pm

    "plotting against civil aviation targets or airport"

    prior to 9/11 and AFTER 9/11 is was clear they are NOT platting against Civil aviation targets or airport, they are plotting against "TWIN TOWERS", "white house" and the Pentagon.

    We already know they are not plotting against airports.

    No, just the population of America, but not airports.

    And "recruiting and training and money" to do what?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymouse Pony from Down under, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 7:06pm

    Re:

    I gather you work for Fox News then!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Brazenly anonymous, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 7:15pm

    Re: The Real Terrorists - horseless buggies

    First they came for the terrorists, and I did nothing, for I was not a terrorist.

    Next they came for the Amish, and I did nothing, for I was not Amish.

    Then they came for the lightning, and I laughed as I set up Tesla coils.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Brazenly anonymous, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 7:20pm

    Re:

    "General, there's been no Martian attacks on US soil and there is no prospect of them for the foreseeable future."

    "Ah, I knew the SADF (strategic alien defense force) was a good investment."

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Gordon Barlow, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Obedience training

    This whole program was obviously a hoax from Day One. In November three years ago I blogged about refusing to let my young granddaughters transit in any US airport on their way from Europe to from our home in the Cayman Islands (south of Cuba, in the Caribbean) or return. It costs me quite a few dollars more every time, but no way am I going to expose the girls to sexual molestation by the uniformed thugs of the TSA. I titled the post "1984 Revisited (Towards an American Police State)".
    http://barlowscayman.blogspot.com/2010/11/1984-revisited.html

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Jonathan Corbett, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:05am

    Thanks for covering!

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks again for continuing to cover the unraveling of the TSA's security theatre.

    An update for your readers not mentioned in the article: the day after the documents were published, the TSA sought to gag me from discussion of their contents -- despite the fact that they are now quite public documents. More details at my blog.

    Thanks,

    --Jon

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Jonathan Corbett, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:08am

    Re:

    I have some bear repellent I'm selling. Since I've worn it, I've never encountered a single bear.

    *rolleyes*

    The big deal here, Anon, is that the TSA sold Congress on their need to put their hands in our pants with tales of airplanes blowing out of the sky in the immediate future should the TSA not receive the authority and budget they ask for. They have some explaining to do.

    --Jon

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re:

    Huh? What the hell does Fox News have to do with this. Although they are very against the TSA, NSA garbage that is happening in our country.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Wonderboy, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:43pm

    If given a choice...

    between an aircraft full of screened passengers, as they are today, or an aircraft full of passengers who did not wish to be screened, which aircraft would you choose?

    Why the "hands in our pants"...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Airlines_Flight_253

    Why we take our shoes off...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_shoe_bomb_plot

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -- George Santayana

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 6:54pm

    If the passengers had been given a CHOICE whether to be screened or not, at first I would think the screened, but on second thought, no I'd go with the unscreened since I'd rather not sit by a bunch of wussies easily intimidated. A crazy terrorist can attempt to scare anyone with anything. Maybe a flying laptop thrown similar to ninja star or any blunt heavy instruments. I can't trust a bunch of wussies to protect me even if the case was just me tripping going down the plane stairs. I've seen these mass oodles of people at airports in their self-preservation mode and caring NOTHING about other individuals and just zombified by all the rules they have become accustomed to and acting as though it's ME that can't get "with the program". The program to enslave and control every move we make.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Danielle Helms, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 10:25pm

    Hero

    Jonathan Corbett,

    You are an American hero! You have written and filed in court what I have been saying and thinking for years. All Americans must connect the dots: NSA spying, chemtrails (not contrails), Smart Meters, Monsanto, Obamacare, Homeland Security military "police vehicles," martial law training, UN vehicles and foreigners training in the United States, FEMA camps, journalists threatened/killed, NDAA 2012(National Defense Authorization Act)signed by Obama putting Americans in prison without trial, and more... ALL in preparation for controlling/destroying the American public and preparation for the civil war to come. God Bless America in the years to come... We are at war to survive and most don't even see it. Research Hitler and the same strategy is at play in the "Land Of The Free & Home Of The Brave"...Or "Blind" for now, until it's too late.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Danielle Helms, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 11:10pm

    Airport Security

    Forcing nude images or physical sexual molestation at airports as a prerequisite to travel by air is appalling. It is psychological conditioning in preparation for further abuse by those paid with tax dollars. It's not a matter of Republican or Democrat now, but who is willing to be a puppet for the global elitists... Far too many are more than agreeable. Our government needs honest, compassionate, trustworthy, caring people of character and integrity to take office and actually work for the people. If TSA policy is not reversed, our youth will grow up to think it's "normal" to be molested, photographed nude and violated in the name of said "safety." There is little respect, dignity and decency in our new government of "Hope & Change."

     

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  35.  
    icon
    sudont (profile), Oct 25th, 2013 @ 3:20am

    TSA Not Stupid

    At least we now know that the TSA isn't merely stupid. That's kinda good, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Joe P, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

    How legit is the document?

    She "forgot to file the document under seal" hmmm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Sun flower, Nov 3rd, 2013 @ 4:45am

    Stupid Man

    ter·ror·ist

    /ˈterərist/
    noun

    noun: terrorist; plural noun: terrorists

    The meaning of Ter.or.ist
    a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims.

    Authorities arrested 23-year-old Paul Ciancia in the attack, which also wounded five others, including two other TSA officers.
    The letter stated that Ciancia wanted to "instill fear in the traitorous minds" of TSA agents.

    In addition to the weapon, agents found anti-government material critical of the federal government and the TSA in his gun bag. The material included literature outlining an alleged conspiracy to create a single global government.

    ?????????? Jonathan Corbett ?????????????????????


    TSA is not trained to search for drugs if drugs are present law enforcement is contacted and law enforcement takes over.!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Shawn Papers, Nov 14th, 2013 @ 9:19am

    Re: How legit is the document?

    What do you mean? it's on the internet... obviously its legit!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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