Court Orders TSA to Answer EPIC

A year ago, EPIC sued the TSA over full body scanners (I was one of the plaintiffs), demanding that they follow their own rules and ask for public comment. The court agreed, and ordered the TSA to do that. In response, the TSA has done nothing. Now, a year later, the court has again ordered the TSA to answer EPIC’s position.

This is an excellent time to add your name to the petition the TSA to do what they’re supposed to do, and what the court ordered them to do: take public comments on full body scanners. The petition has almost 17,000 signatures. If we get 25,000 by August 9th, the government will respond. I doubt they’ll capitulate, but it will be a press event that will put even more pressure on the TSA. So please sign the petition. (Here is my first post about it.)

Posted on August 2, 2012 at 2:19 PM31 Comments


aczarnowski August 2, 2012 3:49 PM

Why the #$()#^ should I have to sign a petition to get a government agency to follow the law? Much less a court order? Are there no repercussions in either of the original agreements? Why the #$()#^ were they even written down? And what use is a petition when law holds no sway?

NobodySpecial August 2, 2012 4:11 PM

Asking for public comment is one thing, listening is another – and then actually doing anything about it …..

Tom Novelli August 2, 2012 4:13 PM

I signed a few of those petitions last year, and what did I get? Lip service.

Petition? fail. Court order? fail. Vote for Romney? I don’t think so. In lieu of better ideas, I’ll save my breath….

Blogger Bob August 2, 2012 6:39 PM

I’ve been asked to respond to this post in order to clarify misunderstandings that some people may have.

The TSA properly exempted itself from the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Sunshine Act. The TSA granted itself the exemption for valid reasons that must remain classified for National Security reasons, so you’ll have to trust us on that.

The TSA also had a valid grounds for respectfully refusing to comply with both court orders. The reasons are also classified for National Security reasons, so again you’ll have to trust us the refusal was appropriate and necessary. But I can tell you that the decision was based on thorough analysis of the latest robust intelligence pertaining to the current threat environment.

In both cases, TSA Counsel determined that any form of notice and comment rulemaking regarding the deployment of AIT would be detrimental to National Security, based on the classified determinations I referenced above. TSA Counsel prepared a classified memorandum exempting the agency from notice and comment requirements. TSA Counsel believes that the National Security determinations set forth in the classified memorandum give the TSA full authority to disregard any court orders requiring notice and comment rulemaking.

You are, of course, free to sign the petition. But it will have no more effect than the lawsuit or the court order. And do be aware that pursuant to classified TSA procedures, any names on the petition will be forwarded to the Terrorist Screening Center for possible inclusion on appropriate watch lists.

Thank you for allowing me to address your concerns about this matter.

Wael August 2, 2012 7:05 PM

@ Bogger Bob

And do be aware that pursuant to classified TSA procedures, any names on the petition will be forwarded to the Terrorist Screening Center for possible inclusion on appropriate watch lists.

If signatures have no effect, why are you threatening people?

PS: Misspelling is not accidental.

aikimark August 2, 2012 7:44 PM

I heard a rumor that TSA was going to be privatized. Can anyone substantiate/refute the rumor?

BrianD August 2, 2012 8:00 PM

There was a TSA memo prior to national opt-out day that anyone opting out, or expressing displeasure with the screening process was to be placed on a list of “domestic extremists.” Of course there’s no way to know if they really compiled such a list or not. There really is some chance that the blogger Bob parody is actually correct on that point.

I signed the petition anyways…

dbCooper August 2, 2012 9:36 PM

It scares me that whilst I believe the Blogger Bob post to be parody, I could equally envision the TSA making such an official statement.

Kind regards,

Olaf August 2, 2012 9:49 PM

I really need to learn how to “respectfully refuse to comply with court orders” – because now I know that it will be totally OK to ignore the law if only I do it “respectfully”.

Anon August 2, 2012 11:18 PM

Doesn’t ignoring court orders usually result in contempt of court charges? Which then in turn result in daily fines or jail time until the entity in question complies with the order?

Mark Hewitt August 3, 2012 2:47 AM

Just a thought, but does it really matter whether they “accept public comment”, when they won’t listen to the considerable scientific comment that the things are dangerous and useless?

Peter A. August 3, 2012 3:47 AM

@Anon at Aug 2 11:18:

IANAL, but what the contempt of court means to an organization, esp. a government one as opposed to an individual? Who’s going to be fined/jailed?
I’m afraid if the justice department fines the TSA the net effect is the Govt moving money from its front left pocket to its back right one.

@aczarnowski: I see the surreality of a petition to Govt. to respect its own court order (I ignore here the formal separation between the executive and the judiciary – which is often just that: formal separation). But it has a little sense – to get a bit more bad press for the TSA and Govt. as a whole. Not a significant bit, but…

No One August 3, 2012 5:21 AM

@Peter A: You just have to pierce the “corporate” veil and fine and jail the head of the TSA.

I love the Whitehouse petitions. “This time we’ll be sure to have a transparent government. See? We even set up this website so that you can be listened to.” “But, you only talk party line and established platform to any given issue brought up.” trollface.president

Dirk Praet August 3, 2012 7:16 AM

@ Blogger Blob

Surely you must be aware of the fact that this kind of humour in any Orwellian state will immediately land you on a watchlist of extremely dangerous subverts.

Me August 3, 2012 9:32 AM

@ Robin Williams:

Actually, the TSA is seeming more like my 4 year old.
Me: “Don’t do that.”
Him: “Stop saying that, if you keep saying that then I am going to keep saying stop saying that.”

Trouble is, we are letting the TSA get away with just such an argument.

Bill Lawrence August 5, 2012 3:11 AM

I complained in writing to TSA once, seven years ago for the fact that they slashed open double zip lock bags of corn meal, flour and other grains in our suitcase with a blade on our trip overseas and ruined many of my wife’s clothes which she had purchased for her new job / professorship. They never answered my complaint but the result has been that I was wrongfully placed on a watch list and have more than once missed my flight as TSA agents invariably super-search and harass me at checkpoint. When I challenge TSA supervisors, officials they say, “we don’t do that”. Yet the problem persists regardless of how loudly I protest. I dread flying and do as little as possible… driving or taking the train instead. TSA is a perpetual violation / abomination and as a creeping security service with little to no accountability for employing big brother tactics … it does more harm than good… does not belong in our civil society.

Bill Lawrence August 5, 2012 6:51 PM

QUESTION: How many people who signed petition and commented on this thread have had their computers taken down after posting? My computer mysteriously in infected when I went on line this morning… This petition was the last thing is signed last night.

Chris W August 6, 2012 7:34 AM

C’mon Americans! Just under 20k signatures, well over 5k short with only a couple of days left?!?

Friday: 1343 signatures
Saturday: 298 signatures
Sunday: 215 signatures

Ben G August 6, 2012 11:57 AM

“And do be aware that pursuant to classified TSA procedures, any names on the petition will be forwarded to the Terrorist Screening Center for possible inclusion on appropriate watch lists.”

Holy god, are you serious? How can they say/do that? What is this country turning into?

NZ August 8, 2012 4:52 AM


In Soviet Russia, the government agency law follows YOU! (Sorry, coudn’t help myself).

@Blogger Bob

Wasn’t mentioning a watching list a bit too much? But otherwise, so close to realit…

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.