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First Amendment Be Damned: Out of control TSA threatens bloggers

Called 'useless' by a former FBI terrorism expert, the TSA is out of control and has once again threatened, or 'cautioned against' journalists covering the TSA's bogus and costly security theater.

According to TSA Out of Our Pants, $1B of TSA nude body scanners were made worthless by the blogger's video showing how to "get anything through" the TSA body scanners. This was immediately followed by the TSA threatening mainstream media not to cover the viral YouTube video.TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz "strongly cautioned" a SmarterTravel journalist from covering Jon Corbett's video story. The email said Corbett "clearly has an agenda" which "should not be aided by the mainstream media." To which Corbett wrote on TSA Out of Our Pants, "The TSA is clearly no fan of the 4th Amendment, nor of 5th Amendment due process rights, and now this blatant attempt to manipulate the free press with 'strong caution' hits at Amendment the First."

In response to an emailed interview request,

TSA's blogger Bob wrote about the viral video, calling it "a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures."

It's one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as... you know... things that go BOOM. With all that said, it is one layer of our 20 layers of security (Behavior Detection, Explosives Detection Canines, Federal Air Marshals, , etc.) and is not a machine that has all the tools we need in one handy device. We've never claimed it's the end all be all. ... However, our nation's aviation system is much safer now with the deployment of 600 imaging technology units at 140 airports.

Safer? Is that because TSA officers spend their time breaking a laptop and then threatening the owner with arrest, hassling breast-feeding mothers over ice packs, or like last week by adding TSA miscellaneous prohibited items like "a fantasy knife that slays mythical creatures that don't exist." The TSA Blog likes to brag about what "dangerous items" are confiscated by the TSA at security checkpoints and reported:

Sure, it's great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested.... Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide.

Techdirt advised "slow down TSA lynch mob" as what was revealed in the video is old news and the upgraded scanners no longer show "nude" images against a black background, but show a generic image against a white background. Regardless, "simply traveling or having private parts is not probable cause" for the TSA to think travelers have committed an offense worthy of being groped or being "ogled" in virtual strip-searches via naked body scanners.

Whether it's an old body scanner or a new one, this certainly is not the first time that the TSA has basically said the First Amendment be damned and threatened bloggers. The TSA has also threatened airlines if they tell passengers if they are on a watchlist. When Texas was planning to ban groping by TSA agents and make it illegal to touch anyone's junk, it fell through when the feds threatened to shut down Texas airports. And why? Because nine other states were seeking similar legislation to defend our Constitution.

In fact even complaining about the TSA and exercising that First Amendment right might get you flagged. At that time, Mike German, a former FBI agent turned ACLU attorney, said, "Expressing your contempt about airport procedures -- that's a First Amendment-protected right. We all have the right to express our views, and particularly in a situation where the government is demanding the ability to search you." German added, "It's circular reasoning where, you know, I'm going to ask someone to surrender their rights; if they refuse, that's evidence that I need to take their rights away from them. And it's simply inappropriate."

Sadly enough even complaining about government at all has landed some people on watchlists, such as when Mark Faulk, an Oklahoma City writer and filmmaker active in Occupy OKC was placed on the federal No Fly List

According to another former FBI Special Agent Steve Moore, the TSA is totally useless. As previous head of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force Al Qaeda squad, and an FBI agent for 25 years, Moore knows a thing or two about catching terrorists. Moore said the TSA is out of control. "Civil libertarians on both sides of the aisle should be appalled at an unauthorized use to which TSA is putting their screening: Identifying petty criminals--using one search method to achieve a secret goal. This is strictly forbidden in other government branches."

Additionally Moore wrote on G-man Case File:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was formed to ensure America's freedom to travel. Instead, they have made air travel the most difficult means of mass transit in the United States, at the same time failing to make air travel any more secure.

TSA has never, (and I invite them to prove me wrong), foiled a terrorist plot or stopped an attack on an airliner. Ever. They crow about weapons found and insinuate that this means they stopped terrorism.  They claim that they can't comment due to "national security" implications. In fact, if they had foiled a plot, criminal charges would have to be filed. Ever hear of terrorism charges being filed because of something found during a TSA screening? No, because it's never happened. Trust me, if TSA had ever foiled a terrorist plot, they would buy full-page ads in every newspaper in the United States to prove their importance and increase their budget.

TSA surveillance is a peep show, a police state and privacy invasion. It blows my mind that in America, any agency can claim show us your body or we'll feel you and then get by with groping people. The intimidation tactics to stifle dissent and the First Amendment also makes me wonder, did I wake up in another country or is that KGB-like in the USA? This is Sunshine Week, so please do shine rays of light on the TSA to disinfect the worthless security theater which is costing We the People a fortune. And just think, in the future, the TSA plans to track all of your daily travels to work, to the grocery store, to social events and everywhere else you go.

The infographic was created by: Online Criminal Justice Degree. You can see it full-sized here.

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