Petition Calls On White House To Require TSA To Seek Public Comment On Full-Body Scanners

Almost exactly a year ago, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Transportation Security Administration had, in its rush to roll out full-body scanners at airports, broken its own rules by not publishing the policy in the Federal Register and allowing the public to comment on it before putting it into action. At the time, the court expected the TSA to “act promptly” and seek public comment. It hasn’t done so, and now a new petition seeks to have the White House require the TSA to do so.

Jim Harper of the Cato Institute started a petition yesterday on WhiteHouse.gov that has already gotten more than 1,800 signatures of the required 25,000 signature goal.

From the petition:

Defying the court, the TSA has not satisfied public concerns about privacy, about costs and delays, security weaknesses, and the potential health effects of these machines. If the government is going to “body-scan” Americans at U.S. airports, President Obama should force the TSA to begin the public process the court ordered.

In an opinion piece for Ars Technica, Harper questions the TSA’s claims that it’s too complex and expensive to go through the rulemaking process for full-body scanners, yet “the TSA has devoted substantial resources to the PreCheck program during this time, rolling it out to additional airports. How can an agency pour resources into its latest, greatest project, yet claim poverty when it comes to complying with the law?”

The petition isn’t a direct attempt to rid airports of the scanners, but to ensure that the TSA is following its own guidelines, especially on a policy that is so controversial and could benefit from public comment.

Require the Transportation Security Administration to Follow the Law! [WhiteHouse.gov]

Comments

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  1. eturowski says:

    I have been commenting on these machines via the TSA’s online comment system since I was first exposed to one (June 2010, I believe). Even if the TSA formally solicits public comments on their scanners, I doubt they will pay any more attention to this information than they have to the thousands of complaints that have already been filed.

  2. eccsame says:

    As someone who enjoys masturbating to photos of biomorphic white things with skeletal features, I have no problem with these body scans.

  3. dolemite says:

    It’s been proven time and again our current government considers itself above the law. Illegal wiretaps, execution and detainment of citizens, search and seizure of property, I mean the list grows yearly. What makes them think they’d comply with something as mundane as this?

    • eccsame says:

      Wait – where has it been “proven” that the United States detains and executes its citizens – other than through legal means like the death penalty and military service?

      • dolemite says:

        Jose Padilla and Anwar al-Awlaki. The government has recently granted itself the power to detain any American suspected of aiding terrorism without right to trial or lawyer, and has defended the statement it has the right to execute any American overseas that it deems a security threat.

        • eccsame says:

          Oh, okay. I thought you meant outside of people with ties to terrorist organizations. Whew! I was worried for a second.

        • eldergias says:

          Yes, but how wrong it is depends on the circumstances. People the police catch in the middle of a murder and shoot to death are also killed without a trial, but they are in the middle of a horrible crime. Organizing, planning, and executing terrorist attacks on civilians is terrible enough for me to agree that this guy being shot down without trial is okay. Imagine if a civil war started in the United States, ostensibly the dissenters would still be citizens, but by right of them taking up arms against their country the rest of the country has the right to defend itself with force.

          Now, it is a different matter when it comes to being held without trial. I really don’t see any defense for that. If they have undeniable proof of a person’s crimes, then the court will still detain the prisoner. If the proof is a national secret, there are means in place for courts to review secret evidence without revealing it to the public. But denying the courts even be allowed to review a person’s case seems to only be for one purpose, they can’t prove the person is guilty.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      For a good internal joke. They can then say, “See we listened to your concerns,” while they just continue to laugh about it for a good hour as soon as they turn around.

  4. hexx says:

    I have no problem with the full body scanner. You are NOT required to use them. If you don’t want to use them the TSA will be more than happy to grope you instead.

    • Jawaka says:

      Agreed. We have a lot of inconvenient laws. Why is this one special?

      If this does succeed however can we then have a public comment on requiring that adult wear a seat belt or be fined?

      • dush says:

        Inconvenient is one thing. Violating civil rights in the name of “security” is another.

        • Jawaka says:

          I respectfully disagree. I wouldn’t even get into a plane for a few years after 9/11. I have absolutely no problem with being scanned before I get onto a plane.

          • dush says:

            What if you had to agree with me in order to be allowed to fly? But you would be guaranteed complete 100% safety.
            Would that be a good trade off for you?

    • ninabi says:

      I got both the body scanner and a good groping by the TSA last week. Couldn’t understand why I was pulled out of line and subjected to such intense scrutiny but the woman told me after it was all done “You could have avoided all this if you had taken off your jacket”.

      Huh? What jacket? I was wearing a sheer open shirt over a tank top. But according to her, it qualified as “jacket” and therefore into the box with me, followed by a good go with the blue gloves (which to her great annoyance were the fresh pair I requested).

      Why couldn’t they have said, Hey, take off your shirt and put it through the x-ray machine? Guess they need to justify their jobs…

      • dush says:

        They aren’t even trying to justify their job. They just aren’t intelligent people filling these positions.

  5. Geekybiker says:

    I would love to see these things go. Privacy concerns, health concerns, security theatre, and they slow down security checkpoints to a crawl. Worst TSA invention yet.

  6. laineybird says:

    I don’t have a huge problem with these except that now I can’t crotch any weed.

  7. CEF says:

    I can’t tell if some of the commenters are being sarcastic here, but if not then I think a few people are missing the point. Whether the scanners are good or bad is almost irrelevant (for what it’s worth, having been subject to numerous gropings, I think the whole set up is bad); the point is that a government organization was ordered by a court to do something and just decided it was going to ignore the ruling. That’s quite a slippery slope if you ask me.

    Not to mention the whole “breaking its own regulations” thing. How much trust can you put in an organization that makes up rules for itself and then decides they don’t apply as soon as it wants to do something where those rules might cause problems?

  8. crispyduck13 says:

    So it was determined a year ago by the courts that they violated their own rules and their punishment was a polite request that they maybe go ahead and operate as per their rules or else…what? No more cookies after the third private room patdown of the day? Why is the TSA seemingly allowed to do whatever the hell they want with absolutely no oversight outside of the department? What the hell is this?

  9. Tim says:

    Defying the court, the TSA has not satisfied public concerns

    Wrong. The court never said TSA had to satisfy any concerns. It just had to formally accept them.

    When you can’t argue on substance, you argue on process.

  10. Kuri says:

    Well, a bunch of people are suddenly on the “no fly” list.

  11. Nobby says:

    Obama created the TSA to violate us and invade our privacy. No conservative president would create such an agency or allow one to exist on his watch.

    • iopsyc says:

      You’re either missing a sarcasm tag or you’re trolling.

    • dush says:

      This post is obviously facetious, but it also shows how the two parties are a joke and essentially the same. Bush started this, totally bad on him. Why didn’t Obama stop it if Obama is such a good guy?

  12. ScandalMgr says:

    TSA will soon be rendered irrelevant once these scanners are deployed:

    http://gizmodo.com/5923980/the-secret-government-laser-that-instantly-knows-everything-about-you

    This has a relevant consumer angle, too:
    1) Are these affordable and reliable enough for the average consumer?
    2) Has DHS gone and wasted countless billions on new technology that is just a pipe dream?
    3) Will consumer(-ists) yawn, and say “If it increases my convenience, and reduces my wait time at the airport, I’m all for eliminating my right to privacy”

  13. Sarek says:

    This counts as your free annual Obamacare chest x-ray.

  14. bben says:

    TSA and their $7.85 billion dollar budget, fancy backscatter x-ray and groping grannies have not caught a single terrorist. Meanwhile, airline passengers with No budget, no fancy gimmicks and no harassing of grannies have caught several that got through screening – IMHO – a totally failed bureaucratic blunder of a government agency.

  15. triana says:

    I wonder what the public’s comments are going to be.

    /s