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TSA strong-arms bloggers who published new airport procedures

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Transport agency ‘more aggressive with this reporter’ than with alleged bomber, fmr. official says

The Transportation Security Administration threatened two travel bloggers with jail if they didn’t reveal the source who provided them with temporary screening procedures issued in the aftermath of the Flight 253 incident, the bloggers and news sources say.

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Christopher Elliott, who runs the Elliott.org blog and is a contributor to the Washington Post and MSNBC, and Steven Frischling, who writes for the official blog of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as well as his own blog, were both visited by TSA agents Tuesday night and served with subpoenas ordering them to identify the source who provided them with the TSA’s new security directive.

Wired.com reports:

Frischling … said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn’t provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.

“They were indicating there would be significant ramifications if I didn’t cooperate,” said Frischling, who was home alone with his three children when the agents arrived. “It’s not hard to intimidate someone when they’re holding a 3-year-old [child] in their hands. My wife works at night. I go to jail, and my kids are here with nobody.”

Frischling, who also said that the TSA demanded and got a copy of his computer’s hard drive, told Wired that he didn’t see the harm in publishing the directive because it was sent to thousands of air travel security officials worldwide.

“They’re saying it’s a security document but it was sent to every airport and airline,” he said. “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.”

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The other blogger, Christopher Elliott, wrote on his blog that he published the TSA directive “since the government has been unresponsive to my requests to clarify its new security measures.” The full text of the security directive, designated SD 1544-09-06, was still available on Elliott’s Web site as of Wednesday evening.

Some of the changes to air security outlined in the directive — which was designed to expire on Dec. 30 in any case — have since become widely-disseminated public information, including a requirement to pat down all travelers boarding planes bound for the United States, as well as a requirement that passengers on US-bound flights must remain seated for the last hour of the flight. Another rule in the document states that flight crew cannot announce the plane’s flight path or point out landmarks once over US airspace.

But, in the end, Elliott and Frischling may have little to give the TSA in its apparent effort to find out who inside the federal agency leaked the document. Frischling told Wired that he received the directive from an unidentified email account, the name on which stated only “Mike,” followed by a series of numbers and letters.

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According to an unnamed former federal prosecutor who talked to Wired, the TSA’s investigation into the leak has been mishandled.

“It strikes me that someone at TSA is apoplectic that somehow there’s a sense that they’re not doing their job right,” the former prosecutor said. “To go into this one reporter’s house and copy his computer files and threaten him, it strikes me that they’re more aggressive with this reporter than with the guy who got on this flight.”

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Disturbing video exposes the dangerous message a State Patrol officer told team: ‘Don’t kill them, but hit them hard’

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Krystal Marx, the executive director of Seattle Pride, shared a disturbing video this week revealing the violent message an officer in the Washington State Patrol gave to his team as it prepared to confront protesters.

“Don’t kill them, but hit them hard,” he said as he walked through a group of his colleagues.

“I remember shaking,” Marx told the Seattle Times of the experience filming the patrol from her office window. “Why not say, ‘Restrain them, calmly’?”

Chris Loftis, a spokesperson for the patrol, gave the Times a statement trying to explain away the comment as poor “word choice,” but it was not reassuring:

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Siberia 10C hotter in warmest May on record: EU

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Temperatures soared 10 degrees Celsius above average last month in Siberia, home to much of Earth's permafrost, as the world experienced its hottest May on record, the European Union's climate monitoring network said Friday.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said May 2020 was 0.68C warmer than the average May from 1981 to 2010, with above average temperatures across parts of Alaska, Europe, North America, South America, swathes of Africa and Antarctica.

Globally, "the average temperature for the twelve months to May 2020 is close to 1.3C above the (pre-industrial) level", Copernicus said referring to the benchmark by which global warming is often measured.

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2020 Election

Trump stokes division in Republican Party as he rages at Sen. Lisa Murkowski

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As the Republican Party is struggling to defend him in a moment of nationwide strife, President Donald Trump decided Thursday night to fuel divisions within GOP rather than make nice.

He had already lashed out on Wednesday at his former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who sharply criticized Trump’s response to the ongoing George Floyd protests. But on Thursday night, Trump took at aim at sitting Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

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