White House Yanks Anti-TSA Petition from Website

For a former community organizer, President Obama certainly seems to support anti-democratic activity with zeal—from his disproportionate use of Executive Orders, to this most recent action:

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center,

At approximately 11:30 am EDT [Thursday], the White House removed a petition about the TSA airport screening procedures from the White House “We the People” website. About 22,500 of the 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the Administration were obtained when the White House unexpectedly cut short the time period for the petition. The site also went down for “maintenance” following an article in Wired that sought support for the campaign.

The Wired article is also well worth a read, “Court Demands TSA Explain Why It Is Defying Nude Body Scanner Order.”

A year ago, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia “ordered TSA ‘to act promptly’ and hold public hearings and publicly adopt rules and regulations about the scanners’ use, which it has not done.”

The three-judge appellate court, which is one stop from the Supreme Court, said that the Transportation Security Administration breached federal law in 2009 when it formally adopted the Advanced Imaging Technology scanners as the “primary” method of screening. The judges — while allowing the scanners to be used — said the TSA violated the Administrative Procedures Act for failing to have a 90-day public comment period, and ordered the agency to undertake one.

Another agency above the law—and no wonder: it avoids the unpleasant task of defending the indefensible—including avoiding the awkward question of the machines posing serious health risks—that compliance would involve, and faces no negative consequences for its continuing to be a scofflaw.

The petition, even if allowed to remain on the White House website, would have made no difference anyway. Achieving the requisite number of signatures only requires the TSA to respond to the petition. Their response to a similar petition last September is here. Among other useful information, it states:

Our Nation is safer and better prepared today because of these and other efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, TSA, and our Federal, state, local and international partners. TSA is constantly identifying ways to continue to strengthen security and improve the passenger experience and appreciates the feedback of the public.

Never mind that there’s no evidence for this contention, and multiple outrages that dispute it. Bottom line is: “Go away. We’ll do what we want.”

Mary L. G. Theroux is Chairman and Chief Executive of the Independent Institute.
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