TSA Freaks Out, Gets Longtime Critic Bruce Schneier Kicked Off Of Oversight Hearing

from the congressional-security-theater dept

If you read this site, you probably already know who Bruce Schneier is. We’ve certainly mentioned the longtime security expert plenty of times. He’s been one of the leading vocal critics of “security theater” from the TSA, and therefore a perfectly reasonable counterpoint to the TSA in a hearing by the House Oversight Committee looking into TSA reform. I don’t think anyone has thought quite as much about how the TSA could do things better than Bruce Schneier. But, as you can see from the website of the hearing, Schneier was removed from today’s hearing:

He didn’t get sick or have something better to do. Hell, he didn’t even miss a flight. Instead, according to Schneier, the TSA itself had him removed from the panel:

On Friday, at the request of the TSA, I was removed from the witness list. The excuse was that I am involved in a lawsuit against the TSA, trying to get them to suspend their full-body scanner program. But it’s pretty clear that the TSA is afraid of public testimony on the topic, and especially of being challenged in front of Congress. They want to control the story, and it’s easier for them to do that if I’m not sitting next to them pointing out all the holes in their position. Unfortunately, the committee went along with them.

As Tim Lee notes in reporting on this story, the TSA has done similar things in the past, and even been rebuked by Rep. Jason Chaffetz — and yet it had no problem doing it again. The fact that Schneier is a part of that lawsuit is meaningless and shouldn’t stop him from testifying at all. Schneier is a clear thorn in the side of the TSA, and if it’s so afraid of having him speak to Congress, that really says a lot about the (lack of) confidence it has in its own arguments. If you can’t stand to let a critic speak, it suggests that perhaps your own argument isn’t very strong.

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Comments on “TSA Freaks Out, Gets Longtime Critic Bruce Schneier Kicked Off Of Oversight Hearing”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think that the risk is that he tries to put something on the record that isn’t particularly true, but that he can call into the lawsuit later. Perhaps he will try to evoke comments from the congress critters that can be used out of context, example, to cloud the case.

He decided to sue. He can wait for the courts to get to him.

Torg (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And now we risk him not putting something on the record that is particularly true, which is a much greater risk considering that this is about national policy while his lawsuit is, well, a lawsuit. Worst-case scenario there is that he gets some money that maybe he shouldn’t have, where the worst case here is that the TSA continues business-as-usual when it definitely shouldn’t.

DOlz says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I think that the risk is that he tries to put something on the record that isn’t particularly true, but that he can call into the lawsuit later.”

And the defendant’s lawyer can still prove it isn’t true. Just because something is in print doesn’t make it gospel. The Congressional “Record” is particular egregious in this regard since members can have stuff added, removed, or changed before it goes to press.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I would say not. The TSA is the “receiving” the lawsuit, not pushing it. Further, the TSA is an organization with many employees and staffers. It would seem a little silly to have someone be able to silence all of them by just filing what may in fact be a frivolous lawsuit.

Mr Schneier chose the venue, now he gets to wait his turn.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is silly. It’s like saying MLK wouldn’t have been allowed to speak in front of Congress because he was involved in the legal case over the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They are completely different things. Speaking in front of Congress is petitioning to have a bad law changed. Speaking in front of Judge asks for a ruling on the law.

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“If he didn’t have a pending lawsuit, I am sure there would be no issue.”

I realize that multitasking is no longer cool and has received scathing reviews, but tunnel vision is not a viable alternative.

Denying someone their right to an opinion simply because they have an opinion, is ridiculous. Doing it because they are defending their opinion displays obvious contempt. Due to their lack of decorum, the TSA should be removed from the proceedings.

Shannon E. Wells says:

Re: Anonymous Coward

“If he didn’t have a pending lawsuit, I am sure there would be no issue.”

I am sure this is wishful thinking.

Having someone on the panel who is a critical voice is important. Regardless, a roomful of sycophants doesn’t lend credibility to the idea of an “oversight” committee, does it?

Mr. Smarta** (profile) says:


How the hell can TSA stand up against terrorists and murderers slipping through explosives, when they can’t even stand up to a critic??? Are they freaking kidding me? Talk about cowards! And these people are “protecting” me?

Why not just hold up a sign to the world reading “Hi! We’re TSA. And we’re morons. We’re such cowards that we can’t even stand up to scrutiny or critics.”

I don’t know what’s worse: TSA cowards or stupid politicians who actually allowed this to happen. No wonder the United States is seen by other countries as hypocritical, bullying, and led by morons. What an embarrassment!

Torg (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s because you think it’s reasonable for an organization to have Congress deny its detractors the opportunity to detract during a hearing dedicated to determining if their detraction has merit. Those of us capable of processing more than “but he was already suing them” have been telling you what’s wrong there, but you’re not paying attention.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

They raised objections, they didn’t freak out.

Freak out suggests exactly that, running around pulling their hair out screaming. It’s exactly the misleading image Mike wants to paint here.

It’s more proof that Mike is full of shit at times. The rest of the time, Marcus takes care of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bruce is to the security world as Michael Jackson was to the pop-music world.

Not having him on a panel devoted entirely to SECURITY is damning enough evidence against the TSA. Anyone who has any idea or the faintest clue about what security is or how it applies to the TSA has probably already written their guilty verdict on the matter.

Mr Big Content says:

The Guy Has A Known Pro-Terrorist Record

Have you READ Mr Scheiner’s blog? The guy has a history THIS LONG of belittling the Government’s every effort to try to improve the security of its citizens. If the TSA were really wrong, they would have found out about it by now–after all, that’s what they’re paid to work on.

I don’t know why he doesn’t just have “OBAMA BIN LADEN” tattooed on his forehead and be done with it.

Bill Fisher (profile) says:

TSA Fears the Truth

TSA is terrified of being exposed for the fraud that they are.

They are so accustomed to boldly lying to Congress that they no longer show any discomfort doing this. Incredibly, no lawmaker has had the courage to hold them in contempt of Congress or withhold funding for the agency. Until Congress and the public demand that TSA adopt sensible and civilized security procedures it will continue to be a morass of corruption and criminal behavior.

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