The TSA Complaint Files: A Nightmarish Trek Into the Security State

Good ‘ol Government Attic yanked down hundred of TSA complaint letters through FOIA, and the results are eye-opening:

Read together, hundreds of letters complaining about Transportation Safety Administration security excesses acquire a horrible and sickening power.

Not in the graphic descriptions of genitals groped, terminal ailments revealed or utter powerlessness before government endured. Rather, it’s how often in the face of violation and outrage the victims somehow manage dignity, courtesy and self-effacement., a non-profit website whose slogan is ‘videre licet,’ roughly translated from Latin as “permitting to see” posted 205 pages of these letters from 2010 obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Airline passengers from all over the country addressed complaints to President Obama, Janet Napolitano, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, senators, congressmen, their local newspapers and Anderson Cooper at CNN…

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Catching Up On This Week’s FOIA Hearing

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Sorry it took me a day, but some reaction from Wednesday’s FOIA hearing:

Republicans in Congress are airing results from one of their first formal investigations of the Obama administration, an inquiry into secretive reviews by political advisers at the Homeland Security Department of hundreds of Freedom of Information requests.

The allegations by Republicans set the tone for future interactions between the White House and Capitol Hill for the upcoming presidential campaign.

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the department delayed responses and conducted inadequate searches. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the panel, said the department did not actually withhold records for partisan purposes.


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Tomorrow’s Hearing Will Be Quite Interesting…

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Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for this….

Tomorrow the House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing titled, “Why Isn’t the Department of Homeland Security Meeting the President’s Standard on FOIA?” As we wrote last October, redacted DHS emails revealed the agency was targeting certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and certain FOIA requesters—such as activist groups, watchdog organizations, and journalists—for an extra layer of review by politically-appointed officials within and outside the agency. The emails further revealed EFF was one of the organizations explicitly targeted, and three of our FOIA requests are mentioned specifically. Given the delay between when we filed these FOIA requests and when we finally received records, we assume our requests and the documents produced in response to them went through this extra vetting.

The Oversight Committee is expected to investigate all this at the hearing tomorrow. However, we now think the problem may be much larger than either the emails indicated or we first thought. Since we wrote that blog post, we have learned through litigation in our social networking FOIA case that not only did DHS drag its feet on producing documents, the agency also failed to release all documents it had that were responsive to our request. In conversations with the DOJ attorney representing the government, we have recently learned that DHS likely has a “voluminous production” of additional documents concerning how the agency uses social networking sites that it has yet to produce to us.

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