Secondary Screening: Secret Law News

Secondary Screening: Secret Law News.
Stephen Aftergood, the seemingly indefatigable researcher behind the
Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists, has a
fantastic piece in Slate today about secret laws and the Transportation
Security Administration.

I've written about the abuse of the
“Sensitive Security Information” designation here on this blog and for
Wired News, mainly in regards to John Gilmore's legal challenge to the
airline identification requirement. (Exhibit A, B, C.

lays out how this abuse got started with a “little-noticed passage in
the Homeland Security Act of 2002 expanded the scope of SSIs to
prohibit disclosure of information that 'would be detrimental to the
security of transportation.' This change in wording ushered in an
expansive new interpretation of SSI. A May 2004 Federal Register notice
spelled out 16 categories of information that may now be designated as
SSI. These include not only airport security plans (as before) and
threat assessments, but also records of security inspections and
investigations, names of security personnel, and training materials.
More problematically, “security directives” such as the one that
Chenoweth-Hage requested are exempt. And for good measure, the 16th
category is a catch-all exemption for “other information” that TSA may
at its discretion determine should be withheld.”

The government
continues to contend that they do not have to reveal the rule requiring
airlines to ask for identification, since that would reveal a law
enforcement technique designed to stop hijackings.

That's akin
to not telling visitors to the United States that they need a visa and
a passport, because those are law enforcement techniques designed to
stop illegal immigration.

Difference there is that this is your
government refusing to admit what you already know. If you want to fly,
you better bring identification or be prepared to spend a couple of
hours being searched and trying to talk your way on to a plane/

the government argues that citizens have to lodge challenges to any
security directives in the appeals court, not the district court. What
that means, is that there can be no finding of fact. You challenge the
rule, the government maybe shows the rule to the judge (but not you),
and then the judge rules. You can't bring in evidence or engage in
discovery. That's a sham. [Privacy Digest: Privacy News (Civil Rights, Encryption, Free Speech, Cryptography)]

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