June 24th is D-Day: last day to submit public comments about TSA

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by TSA News Blog, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. TSA News Blog

    TSA News Blog News Feed

    Monday, June 24, 2013, is the final day to submit your public comments about the TSA. Links all over this blog, including at the top left-hand corner of this and every other page. We’ve written about this repeatedly. Not going to do it yet again. Here’s Jim Harper of the Cato Institute:
    In 2007, the president and CEO of the RAND Corporation, James Thomson, wrote up his impressions of the management at the Department of Homeland Security. “DHS leaders … ‘manage by inbox,’ with the dominant mode of DHS behavior being crisis management,” he wrote. “DHS implements most of its programs with little or no evaluation of their performance.”​
    If you want proof, look no further than the nation’s airports. Across the United States, the Transportation Security Administration harries American travelers daily, giving them a Hobson’s choice between standing, arms raised, before a nude body scanner or undergoing a prison-style pat-down. It doesn’t have to be this way.​
    Nearly two years ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered TSA to do a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its nude body scanning policy. Few rules “impose [as] directly and significantly upon so many members of the public” as the use of body scanning machines, the court said. Its ruling required the agency to publish its policy, take comments from the public, and consider them in formalizing its rules.​
    The last day to comment on the proposed rules is Monday, June 24th. You can submit your comments until then.​
    In our comment, Cato senior fellow John Mueller, Mark G. Stewart from the University of Newcastle in Australia, and I take the TSA to task a number of ways. The TSA fails to account for privacy in its proposed policy, even though the lawsuit that required the rulemaking was based on its privacy consequences.
    The policy proposal that TSA issued is hopelessly vague. In fact, the court decision requiring the TSA to put its policies on record is more informative about what the rights of travelers and responsibilities of the TSA are.​
    Instead of placing its risk management work in the docket, TSA claims that its “risk-reduction analysis” is classified. There is almost no basis for treating such work as secret. Indeed, Mueller and Stewart have done a risk assessment of nude body scanners, published it in an article and their book, and spoken about it at public conferences. Their analysis has shown that the nude body scanning policy does not provide cost-effective security. Quite simply, spending money on nude body scanning buys a tiny margin of security at a price that is too dear. If you add non-monetary costs such as privacy and liberty, as well as opportunity costs such as time wasted due to body scanning, the cost-ineffectiveness of body scanners becomes all the more clear.​
    Travelers wary of TSA mistreatment choose driving over flying for many short or medium-length journeys. Given the far greater danger of driving, this means more injuries and as many as 500 more Americans killed per year on the roads. Outside of war zones, TSA policies visit more death on Americans than Islamist extremist terrorism has worldwide since 9/11.
    The National Research Council found in 2010 that the risk models the Department of Homeland Security uses for natural hazards are “near state of the art” and “are based on extensive data, have been validated empirically, and appear well suited to near-term decision needs.” This is not the case with airline security. In fact, the TSA will accept risks of death that are higher than terrorism in order to maintain nude body scanning policies. The original body scanners, which applied x-ray technology, posed a fatal cancer risk per scan of about one in 60 million. Asked about this on the PBS NewsHour, TSA head John Pistole said this risk was “well, well within all the safety standards that have been set.” The chance of an individual airline passenger being killed by terrorism is much lower: one in 90 million.
    TSA’s nude body scanning policies probably cause more deaths than they prevent. For this reason, we recommend in our comment that the TSA suspend the current policies, commence a new rulemaking, and implement a rational policy resulting from an examination of all issues on the public record. After comments close, TSA will issue a final regulation on a schedule it determines, after which the regulation can be challenged in court, and very likely it will.​
    If you don’t exercise your rights and speak up when they’re violated, don’t be surprised when they’re taken away. As of this writing, only 4,000 people have submitted comments about the TSA to the public docket. That’s out of a country of 300 million (yes, I know not everyone flies). What does that tell you about whether people give a toss about their rights?
    And yes, flying is a right.
  2. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    We're almost up to 5,000 comments now, but that is a number that is still too low - especially since SO many people complain about the TSA's policies.

    What you can do NOW:

    Talk to every single person you know and make sure they know that the rulemaking period ends on Monday. If they balk, ask them why they don't want to send in a comment. What I've found is that people are concerned about putting their real name on the comments. Make sure they know they can comment anonymously. Some don't know what to say. Tell them to write about their bad experiences. Lastly, people worry about length. Let them know that a short paragraph will do.

    Make a blog post about the comment period and post it. Better yet, tweet the link to the world. Put it on facebook and make sure your network shares widely.

    Know people on facebook or twitter with bunches of friends or followers? Ask them if they will send out a message or a tweet about the comment period.

    Now's the time.
  3. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    Thanks to those making an effort to get as many to comment as possible.

    However, I would not buy into any attempt to look at the number of comments as though this is some sort of referendum on the TSA--it is not. Those polls have been taken-- people are disgusted by the TSA--whether the White House, Pervole, or the unions wish to say otherwise.

    This is a legal/regulatory process. The more the merrier, but a few quality comments-- including those which point out the rule's procedural defects --- are at least as important as quantity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rulemaking
  4. TravelnMedic

    TravelnMedic Original Member

    The number of comments i don't think is accurate as I submitted a few and have yet to make an appearance.
  5. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Gee, TSA wouldn't suppress the responses now would they?
  6. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    I noticed at one time, and commented on it someplace, that the numbers of comments submitted had actually dropped by a significant amount.
  7. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    After they were caught discarding / not counting 3/4 of TSA complaints? Nah, they wouldn't do that again.
  8. RB

    RB Founding Member

    If there is any doubt that a submitted item has been discarded then I would suggest resubmitting.
  9. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    They've done it before. They'll do it again.
  10. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    In a sane world you'd be right. But we're talking about the TSA here. Number of comments absolutely matter. We need more, otherwise the TSA will say, "no one cares, we're keeping nude body scanners as primary screening."

    From the wikipedia article:

    Arbitrary and capricious and/or unsupported by the record. Most frequently, objectors will argue that, even if the judge is not an expert, she can tell that there is an obvious gap in the agency’s data or analysis. A court may intervene if it finds that there is no reasonable way that the agency could have drafted the rule, given the evidence in the rulemaking record. A court may send a rule back to the agency for further analysis, generally leaving the agency to decide whether to change the rule to match the existing record or to amend the record to show how they arrived at the original rule. If a court does remand a rule back to the agency, it almost always involves an additional notice and public comment period.

    So far most comments are against the body scanners, and that is important to anything that EPIC or any other organization does after the rulemaking period ends.
  11. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Submitted mine. Hopefully it helps.

    Sunny Goth and Caradoc like this.
  12. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    Submitted mine just now (I know, I am a procrastinator)!
  13. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Now we wait. ....
  14. FliesWay2Much

    FliesWay2Much Original Member

    The stupidist thing about all of this is that the TSA would have had far less opposition a couple of years ago if they had published this notice on time. Instead, the public (including us) has had two more years of anger under our belts.
  15. RB

    RB Founding Member

    We've learned along the way that TSA and its employees lied about every aspect of the Strip Search Machines. Safety, image storage, image quality and everything else. We know of no one TSA employee who was honest, including those TSA employees that have posted here and at the other place.

    We do know that the TSA Strip Search Machines do not find WEI but anomalies, a search that exceeds the TSA mandate.
  16. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    Is there any aspect or facet of the TSA that a TSA employee (or even Boggy Boob) has not lied about?
  17. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    I disagree. I think they would have had a HUGE amount of opposition when the scanners first rolled out. Remember opt out day and all the press it generated?

    I think their game plan was to delay, delay, delay, in order to get people used to the scanners. How many people opt out now? By the time the comment period rolled around people were used to them. I don't know if this is a final number, but I saw 5,600 comments total. That's not a lot of comments given how many people rail against the TSA.
  18. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    You'll note that most of the polls footnoted in the proposed rule were taken prior to November 20, 2010. At that point, acceptance was high. Not one poll taken after January 1, 2011, when acceptance was beginning to drop precipitously, was cited.

    There has been concern expressed on the TSANews Blog that the TSA will attempt to trivialize the 5,000+ comments submitted. Should that happen, then we should point out the following:

    The CBS poll, 81% approval, of 1,137 individuals was from 11/15/10 - before NBS was fully instituted.
    The Gallup poll, 78% approval, of 542 (yep, that's right all of 542) individuals was taken on 1/11/2010.
    The WSJ poll from, I believe, March of 2010, was responded to by 1,032 individuals and gave an approval rate of 74%.
    Although I looked them up, I don't recall what the other two polls cited showed but I do recall that one was taken in 2009.
    We need to now start to compile results of polls taken after January 1, 2011 to show the drop in the acceptance rate. (Hopefully, somebody in their comments did just that.) But we need to begin to gather than information.
    KrazyKat likes this.
  19. RB

    RB Founding Member

  20. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    Disagree completely. This is not a poll.
    If anything, compared to number of comments generated by what other agency rule?

    This was not a "cast your vote", "add your name" type effort. Conflating Federal Register comment submissions with quickie polls or political support is knowing rubbish.

    5,600 is a HUGE number in its context.
    Only the agency and apologists for inaction will say otherwise. Satan will find these people eventually.

    I'm with Doober on pointing out proper poll numbers. I think the nearly 25,000 who signed the TSA White House petition before it was yanked is a better indicator of opposition.

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