Jul 18, 2012 1:05 AM GMT
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In July 2011, a federal appeals court ruled that the Transportation Security Administration had to conduct a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its policy of using "Advanced Imaging Technology" for primary screening at airports. TSA was supposed to publish the policy in the Federal Register, take comments from the public, and justify its policy based on public input. The court told TSA to do all this "promptly." A year later, TSA has not even started that public process. Defying the court, the TSA has not satisfied public concerns about privacy, about costs and delays, security weaknesses, and the potential health effects of these machines. If the government is going to "body-scan" Americans at U.S. airports, President Obama should force the TSA to begin the public process the court ordered.
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t’s been a year following a federal appeals court decision setting aside a constitutional challenge trying to stop the government from using intrusive body scanners across U.S. airports.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision on July 15, 2011, also ordered the Transportation Security Administration “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 (AIT) 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.
A year later, the government has yet to hold those hearings. And the appellate court has twice denied motions from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which brought the case, to order the TSA to get going.
Jim Harper, the director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, has started a White House petition to force the TSA to promptly follow the law. By government policy, if the petition gets 25,000 signatures, the President Barack Obama administration is obligated to publicly respond. The petition is halfway there.