The Department of Homeland Security has come in for plenty of criticism for not “putting the pieces together” that would’ve revealed a Nigerian man was going to try to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas.
But there are signs the DHS is back in the game, Wired Magazine reports. It seized the laptop of a blogger in Connecticut who posted the security directive that detailed the mostly-discredited security procedures that were put in place after the incident.
The document, which the two bloggers published within minutes of each other Dec. 27, was sent by TSA to airlines and airports around the world and described temporary new requirements for screening passengers through Dec. 30, including conducting “pat-downs” of legs and torsos. The document, which was not classified, was posted by numerous bloggers. Information from it was also published on some airline websites.
“They’re saying it’s a security document but it was sent to every airport and airline,” says Steven Frischling, one of the bloggers. “It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they’re looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can’t have a right to expect privacy after that.”
The bulk of the document, from what we understand, reminded security teams to adhere to the procedures that were already in place.
Frischling writes the blog, Flying With Fishes. In a posting, he’s hardly anti-Transportation Security Administration:
The DHS & TSA are taking this matter seriously, and that tells me that they are paying attention to security in detail. Their issue is not that the Security Directive expires tomorrow, or even that I posted SD-1544-09-06 but that someone within the TSA sent this sensitive document outside of the agency. I understand why the TSA wants to find the person leaking this information and I wish I had a long intertwined story about how I got the document, but I don’t.
I received it, I read it, I posted it. Why did I post it? Because following the failed terrorist attack on the 25th of December there was a lot of confusion and speculation surrounding changes in airline & airport security procedures.
We are a free society, knowledge is power and informing the masses allows for public conversation and collective understanding. You can agree or disagree, but you need information to know if you want to agree or disagree. My goal is to inform and help people better understand what is happening, as well as allow them to form their own opinions.
Security directives are about as secret (or they’re supposed to be) as it gets, but that’s the problem. Here’s an example: Earlier this year, there was a secret directive that any pilot who flew to any airport where a commercial flight lands, had to have a badge assigned by that airport. If you flew a small plane to say, Thief River Falls, the authorities at Thief River Falls had to set up a system to certify that you’re not a terrorist and they had to bear the cost. Why? Because at least one commercial flight lands at Thief River Falls. Each badge was good only at that airport. If you’re a pilot flying to other airports, you’d need a badge for each airport.
Silly? Of course. And that conclusion doesn’t even consider that maybe Thief River Falls isn’t a likely terrorist target. But there wasn’t much anyone could do about it because the security directive — SD-08F –that created it was secret. Because there’s no “public comment period” that applies to security directives, they can’t be reviewed and smart people can’t point out — where necessary — the ineffectiveness of the intent.
The only way that can happen is if some blogger gets ahold of it.
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