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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Alchemist (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 4:44pm

    This is a classic example of "House Oversight Theater" or if you are of the British persuasion "House Oversight Theatre".

     

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    TechnoMage (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:10pm

    What kind of Congress would do that?...

    The same kind of congress that wouldn't let a female on a board discussing female health issues.

    *le sigh*

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:18pm

    TSA agents...

    ...are thieves, pedophiles, and rapists. It's hardly surprising that they don't want to face criticism.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 11:56am

      Re: TSA agents...

      Given the current economic environment I have a hard time condemning the individual agents a priori. Sometimes you have to take unsavory work to put food on the table.

       

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        S, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re: TSA agents...

        I suppose you'd work at a concentration camp to feed your kids?

        Some things just aren't worth doing -- no matter HOW "tough" things get.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:20pm

    Actually, it's a pretty reasonable concept. If he wants to fight it out in court, he can wait for his day in court and make his case there.

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

    Sounds more like this guy wants the best of both worlds.

     

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      Torg (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:28pm

      Re:

      Because no one suing an organization could possibly have anything to contribute to a Congressional discussion about that organization's effectiveness.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:36pm

        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.

         

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          Torg (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:59pm

          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.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So your grand argument is that he may say things that may cause problems for the TSA. Oh no.

           

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          DOlz, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:55pm

          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.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 9:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Irrelevant, the hearings are not about judicial cases and should not take them into account unless used to exemplify something not to bar someone from attendance.

          This is a cheap shot from a cheap congress.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:35pm

      Re:

      If being party to said lawsuit was reason for removal then shouldn't the TSA reps also have been removed?

      The standard should cut both ways, right?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:03pm

        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.

         

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          TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If one witness is excluded because of a legal action both should be as the testimony of either party has the potential of affecting the legal action.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 9:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If the problem outlined by you is that Mr. Schneider would influence something the same is true to the TSA, if justice is to be fair and balanced both parties should be excluded, that is common sense.

           

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          bob, Apr 9th, 2012 @ 4:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          dear AC

          You seem to be astroturfing for the TSA.
          Do they pay you for that ?

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:14pm

      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.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 12:53am

      Re:

      If he didn't have a pending lawsuit, I am sure another issue would be found.

       

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      abc gum, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 4:57am

      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.

       

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      Vincent Clement (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      Apple has several pending lawsuits with Samsung. Didn't stop Apple from contracting out the manufacture of the retina display in the new iPad to Samsung.

      What is the TSA afraid off? The truth?

       

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      Shannon E. Wells, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 11:04am

      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?

       

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    Mr. Smarta** (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:38pm

    Seriously?

    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!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:25pm

    Apparently airport security isn't the only thing TSA isn't up to date on. They're apparently also unaware of the Streisand Effect.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:34pm

    TSA gets BS banned at Hearing

    Unfortunately, TSA was unable to recognize they were full of type other type of BS.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:37pm

    You'd think that the people suing TSA, actually have the best criticisms against TSA, that Congress might want to hear, wouldn't you?

    Also, why did TSA have any say in this, anyway? They get to pick and choose who criticizes them? How very convenient.

     

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    Beta (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:48pm

    If only...

    If only the TSA were providing security for the hearing itself. Then Mr. Schneier could walk in and testify anyway.

     

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      BentFranklin (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 8:39am

      Re: If only...

      Just show up in the audience and hand out your testimony to anyone who requests it including the press and congressional aides.

      "Hi, I'm Dr. Bruce Schneier. I'm the person TSA had stricken from testifying. Here's what I would have said."

      Pretty simple solution.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:59pm

    I am still trying to find out there the "freak out" part occurred.

     

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      Torg (profile), Mar 26th, 2012 @ 9:17pm

      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.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 5:23am

        Re: Re:

        I think they may have raised objections, but "freaking out" seems a very broad overstatement from Mike.

         

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          abc gum, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 5:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ""freaking out" seems a very broad overstatement "

          Perhaps "delusions of grandeur" would be more appropriate?

           

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          Torg (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 5:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Raising objections to the possibility of negative testimony is "freaking out". Freaking out doesn't just mean running around screaming and pulling your hair out.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 10:21am

            Re: Re: Re: 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.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 10:36pm

      Re:

      Don't you think you should try and find another job beyond shilling.

       

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        Niall (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 2:32am

        Re: Re:

        But he's obviously taken the TSA's shilling!

        (For the non-Brits, this is a reference to prospective soldiers taking "the King's shilling" - now 5p/8 cents - as a token of having signed up for the Army.)

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

    But the kids.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 9:39pm

    I was really looking forward to having him talk in the hearing, very few know security better than he does, but it looks like they can't have anyone intelligent attend.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 10:16pm

    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.

     

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    Mr Big Content, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 12:12am

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 2:23am

    seems to be common practice in the US. similar happened with discussions over SOPA, if i'm not mistaken.

     

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    Bill Fisher, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 3:14am

    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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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Corruption protects itself.

     

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    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    "TSA Freaks Out"

    Keystone Nazi squad. Oversight? What oversight? Anyone see any oversight? They're taking queues from the entertainment industry. Fudging the numbers, FUD rhetoric. Sounds like everyone on the oversight board is a TSA golfing buddy (wink, wink, say no more). };P

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 6:41am

    This reeks of censorship.

     

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