Did the TSA Back Down?

Here’s an interesting round-up of stories suggesting the Transportation Security Administration kept body-image scanners (and the associated aggressive pat downs) out of service over the holiday weekend. If so, it was a cynical effort to dampen growing concerns about the TSA’s new security measures — so the TSA could proclaim “Opt-Out” day had become “TSA Appreciation Day” — and one that is likely to fail. As I noted here, the body-image machines and new pat downs have only been installed in less-than-twenty percent of the airport security lanes in the country, so if their use is objectionable to many travelers, then the groundswell will return as the TSA puts the new scanners and policies in place.

Speaking of the TSA, here’s something I almost posted over the weekend, under the heading “Tyrants Securing Airports”:

There are two sides to every story, so I will be very interested to hear about the Transportation Security Administration’s side of this. Even though the events in question occurred several months ago, I can’t find anything on the TSA Blog. I did confirm, however, that breast milk is treated as a liquid medication, so it does not need to go through the x-ray machine.

This incident, which occurred well before the new machines and procedures were in place, is very troubling.  It appears to show a vindictive and callous agency whose employees abuse their power without consequence.  I say “appears” as the video is incomplete — there is no sound and the TSA allegedly withheld 30 minutes of the tape — and we have yet heard the TSA’s response.  But given how long ago this occurred, one would have thought the agency would have investigated the incident, responded to the complaint, and taken some action against the offending employees — even if nothing more than a reprimand for retaliating against an allegedly provocative and uncooperative traveler.  For this reason, I’m not particularly inclined to give the TSA the benefit of the doubt — but I would still like to see their response.

UPDATE: In a post above, Stewart Baker takes exception to the first link in this post, which was also linked on the Drudge Report.  The link is from Prison Planet which, I’ve learned from Stewart, is a website that occasionally traffics in various conspiracy theories, including birther and 9/11 truther stuff.  I’m glad he pointed this out, as I’ll know to be more careful next time I see a link to their site.  In this case, however, I don’t think the source discredits the message, nor do I think it’s fair to suggest (as Stewart does) that Drudge (and others?) linked to the story because it “really want[ed] to run a story” but couldn’t “find a respectable source for it.”  As I pointed out in the comment thread to Stewart’s post, the Prison Planet story here was largely a collection of links to other, quite reputable, sources, including the Newark Star-Ledger,  Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Politico. These accounts are also consistent with much anecdotal reporting on what TSA did (or didn’t) do this past week. It may well be, as a general matter, that “the line between using Prison Planet as a source and just plain making things up is too thin for comfort,” but in this case shooting the messenger won’t make the story go away.

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