TSA is officially allowed to lie to you in order to cover its ass


#1

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#2

I read the court opinion and I don't see how the court is allowing the TSA to lie. The only real lie was that the video data didn't exist which the TSA later released with pixelated faces. The court didn't rule on this because the release of data made the lie moot.

There are a lot of lawsuits that might be used to hold the TSA accountable, but I don't think this one is it. The basic points here are whether the plaintiff can get access to release unredacted videos showing TSA and law enforcement agents (which he should be able to) and whether documents labelled sensitive information could be judged at a district court level. The point where the TSA lied about the video, as the court pointed out, is moot and nothing in the judgement rules that lying about the video was allowed.


#3

I've said it before, but you should really have an attorney look at legal items before posting them.

Journalists and pro per claimants have a real knack for totally and completing misunderstanding what
exactly the court did that was interesting (I'll spare you the approximately one million examples, including from this website, that I can think off of the top of my head to support this view).

For starts, and with all due respect to the guy who maintains that blog (which, full disclosure, I looked at for approximately 5 seconds, so maybe he turns it around elsewhere), but even the header text, which states the blog is about a:"Lawsuit against the TSA for 4th Amendment invasion of privacy" is legally unsound on its face. The 4th Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure. The right to privacy is a modern right (thanks Justice Brandeis!) based on Due Process (as well as other Amendments maybe, depending on how seriously you take the whole "penumbras and emanations" thing. Ok, sorry that was a totally nerdy side bar for lawyers).

In any event, I recommend you hire Ken from popehat. Or you know, I'd be happy to do it, but I am sure you guys could round up someone way fancier than me.


#4

Reading the court judgement, it looks like the TSA acted in it's remit. The judge works on the basis of "assuming, but not finding" that the state airport authority (not the TSA) initially lied to the plaintiff about the existence of the CCTV footage - but the plaintiff requested a copy of the tape as redress, and the court found that the TSA provided a correctly redacted copy of the tape in response.

Furthermore, the guy filing his pro se motion for summary judgement did not even bother (or realise that he needed to) contest the substance of TSA's affidavits. The judgement states that the court is essentially bound to find in favour of the TSA under those circumstances.


#5

Yeah, I've had enough. Giving power and authority to people, all people, seem like a more terrible idea every day. Cut their funding yesterday.


#6

He isn't making a legally sound argument when he is calling something an invasion of privacy. He is making a literal one. Lawyers have a really hard time picking apart the difference between reality and law. They often confuse the two as being the same thing when they most certainly are not. The two do not even exist in the same plane of existence. He is claiming that the being searched and having his shit seized when he walks into an airport is a violation of the 4th. That is his legal argument. His literal argument, the argument that is propelling him to make a legal argument, is that it is an asinine violation of his privacy and it sucks. He isn't speaking to a judge on his blog, so it is a-okay to say that the reason why he wants 4th amendment protection is because he feels it is an invasion of his privacy. I think he has exactly zero chance of winning a 4th amendment case, but that is beside the point.


#7

Rindan,

thanks for your thoughtful response to my post. To chat about it a bit more, in my defense, the gentleman in question specifically cites the 4th Amendment. He doesn't say "they invaded my privacy, which sucks", it says instead "a 4th Amendment invasion of privacy".

My view is that this statement shows a misunderstanding of the rudiments of the law, which again is no big deal; I was just making the point that when a blog, newspaper, magazine, and so forth, write about a legal ruling, goofy misunderstandings of the basics of the American legal system are often the result. People who trust the journalists/blogger/whatever then read the article, and the misinformation spreads apace. I believe this is irresponsible and ultimately not the best thing for society.

That was my ultimate point from my initial post, and I agree with you that I could have expressed it more eloquently.

As for your thoughts that all lawyers "have a really hard time picking out the difference between the reality of the law". It seems to me that you are using a bit of a broad brush here, but I respect your view, which of course is probably held by a large swathe of society. However I'm afraid it doesn't correspond with my own thoughts or experience on the subject. My own experience suggests that most (although by no means all) attorneys are strongly grounded in reality generally, but must fulfill their ethical duties of guiding their clients through the intricacies of the law, even where the client or attorney may feel that the law as it is being applied is not appropriate to the situation. I could give examples, but this is probably not the best forum for that sort of thing, and anyways, examples provided by someone whom you ostensibly consider to be out of touch with reality probably wouldn't be very useful in any event.
Thank you again for your thoughts.


#8

Again, you are completely missing it. Privacy in your head is a legal thing, which is totally different from 4th amendment protection which says that the government can't go rifling through your shit without a warrant and probable cause (third party doctrine bullshit notwithstanding). What you miss is that in common language the whole "the government can't go through my crap without a damn good reason" protection is in fact a protection of your privacy, with the word "privacy" here using the actual English definition of the word, not the legal one, which like many legal definitions isn't even a distant cousin of the actual English word in meaning.

He isn't picking his words to use sound legal definitions. He is picking his words using the actual English definitions, which everyone who isn't a lawyer hardily appreciates and has no problem with. Legal definitions get you bat shit insane bullshit like the third party doctrine, because clearly the founders thought that it is evil to break into your house and take your papers without a warrant, but thought it would be freaking awesome if the government could track your every single movement using a cell phone and steal all your communications because the data is technically stored in someone elses server. Lawyers and judges totally got the spirit of the law on that one! Thanks legal definitions! he said with flat sarcasm.


#9

I moved a post to a new topic: Headings look too much like bold font?


#10

It's interesting to me when a judge says they are bound by the rules to do the wrong thing. Don't we have judges precisely so we have reasonable people able to make just decisions when the legal rules muddy the waters?

It strikes me that if it was all about being strictly bound to the rules, we wouldn't need judges or lawyers.


#11

You assume, quite incorrectly, that cutting their funding will actually cut down on these type of civil rights violations.

The reduction if dollars will result in a heavier managerial burden (in NO administrative tribe is a reduction in resources ever accompanied with a reduction in [mis]management,) squatting atop a more stressed worker base who will be retaliating against the traveling public, who they never have to face again, with more vitriol and even more disdain.


#12

Hello, author of the blog being discussed here. I like that many of you looked deeper into the legal decision, and have raised the issue of mootness.

Mootness is a doctrine that stems from the constitutional requirement that only "cases and controversies" may be heard by the federal courts. The idea is that if there's no remedy the court can take to make it better, the court should not be wasting its time. But, there is an exception to the mootness doctrine for illegal actions that are "capable of repetition, yet evading review." In other words, a live controversy still exists if the government can continue to do the illegal thing and always claim it would be moot.

In this instance, it is clear that the exception applies. FOIA would be meaningless if governments could simply lie and then, if caught, just say, "ok, you got me" and hand over the documents. I argued this exception passionately, and my argument was entirely ignored by this judge, as were many of my arguments for the 20 other dismissed charges. I do think that the appellate court will overturn her ruling of mootness.

--Jon


#13

If you're interested in reading more about this particular exception to mootness, it was discussed at length in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Wikipedia also breaks it down quite nicely: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mootness#Capable_of_repetition.2C_yet_evading_review


#14

Defund, deauthorized, and disband. Burn volumes and volumes of law. Dismantle the institution that ails you brick by brick. There is a way. What does not exist can not hurt you.


#15

OK, which politicians are running on a platform of defunding the TSA, so I know who to vote for?

(I'm not aware of any.. at all..)


#16

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