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.

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Comments on “Accidentally Revealed Document Shows TSA Doesn't Think Terrorists Are Plotting To Attack Airplanes”

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Michael (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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 …

Jonathan Corbett (user link) says:

Re: Re:

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


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.


Anonymous Coward says:

“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?

Gordon Barlow (user link) says:

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)”.

Jonathan Corbett (user link) says:

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.



Wonderboy says:

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”…

Why we take our shoes off…

?Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.? — George Santayana

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Danielle Helms says:


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.

Danielle Helms says:

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.”

Sun flower says:

Stupid Man



noun: terrorist; plural noun: terrorists

The meaning of
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.!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mitchell Lizar says:

Re: Stupid Man

In refutation of your intended denigration… TSA employees aren’t trained to capture terrorists either. They’re trained to put you through a process which is humiliating and unnecessary. A simple metal-detector scan is more than sufficient for weapons and if they’re after explosives they have dogs trained to do that unobtrusively and they’re non-invasive.

Given the information from your unquoted-quote (source not stated), specifically the mention of a “gun bag”, I’d have to assume that the “Authorities” weren’t TSA agents and the means used to identify and capture the assailant weren’t the means or methods used by the TSA.

Retain the rights, freedoms and liberties your forefathers fought and died for!

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