Friday, January 15, 2010

TSA: Security State

The rest of this post, by Timothy Burke, is here:

There have been numerous reported episodes over the last seven years of children and babies being patted down, questioned, or otherwise subjected to strenuous screening because they have the same name as someone on the watch list. The case reported by the Times is just the latest.

I’m in the camp of people who think most of what the TSA does is meaningless “security theater” that can and has slowly eroded our autonomy as human beings. Leave that larger debate aside for a moment. A different kind of point arises in this case: if a government agency is going to engage the public through its web site, and questions about the accuracy or truthfulness of what it says to the public arise, it should never be permissible to refuse to respond directly to questions. If the New York Times is running a front-page story about a specific case that demonstrates that what the agency says is a weasel-worded evasion at best, there should be a standing directive that comes straight from the office of the Presidency that an agency is required to respond in specific terms to the specific question.

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