(NaturalNews) As the federal Leviathan grows ever larger, so, too, does the arrogance of the statists who run it.
Enter the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration, an ad hoc monster created out of whole cloth by emotional, spur-of-the-moment legislation following the worst terrorist attacks ever committed on U.S. soil. So dismissive of our system of checks and balances are those who manage this giant agency that they no longer feel compelled to even pay attention to court orders. Worse, those above them obviously feel the same way, else they would have ordered the rogue bureaucracy to comply.
A year ago, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the TSA to conduct a public commentary period regarding the agency’s planned use of full-body scanners at certain airports around the country.
More than a year later, the agency still has not complied, and now the court is demanding to know why.
The court has given DHS until Aug. 30 to give a reason as to why it has not yet held public hearings on procedures involving use of the scanners, even as the agency has robotically deployed them.
In July 2011, the court ruled TSA violated the law when it began installing the radiation-emitting scanners without first holding a public commentary period, almost as if the agency doesn’t really want to hear what travelers have to tell them.
In a case brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the advocacy group challenged TSA’s rule-making in relation to installation and use of the advanced imaging scanners, “saying the agency failed to provide notice and allow for comment before the TSA adopted what critics call an invasive and unconstitutional scan of a person’s body,” the Legal Times reported.
The people will be heard
In a unanimous three-judge decision, the court did say that EPIC’s challenge to the new screening method on constitutional and statutory grounds did not hold water, but the panel nonetheless sent the dispute back to the TSA for further consideration.
“[M]uch public concern and media coverage have been focused upon issues of privacy, safety, and efficacy, each of which no doubt would have been the subject of many comments had the TSA seen fit to solicit comments upon a proposal to use [advanced imaging technology] for primary screening,” the panel said.
Judge Douglas Ginsberg, writing for the panel, said none of TSA’s exceptions justified its failure to give notice and receive comment.
EPIC’s Marc Rotenberg hailed the decision, saying the court held that the TSA “is now subject to the same rules as other government agencies that help ensure transparency and accountability. Many Americans object to the airport body scanner program.”
“Now they will have an opportunity to express their views to the TSA and the agency must take their views into account as a matter of law,” he said.
And yet, the agency hasn’t complied.
Last year the agency’s lawyers argued the TSA “should not have to stop every five minutes for comment and rule-making,” and that apparently its mission was too vital to the nation’s security to have to comply with the law.
Out of touch and out of control
Nevertheless, the court said the agency must “act promptly” to initiate the legally required commentary period.
The non-compliance forced EPIC to file more paperwork with the court last month to ensure TSA compliance – the third time it has sought such compliance.
In its petition, EPIC said the agency’s non-compliance is endangering passengers, is an act of defiance against the court, and is just plain unlawful.
In response, the court issued its Aug. 30 ultimatum, leading Rotenberg to declare in an email to Wired that the “order indicates that we have meritorious arguments.”
It’s bad enough that an organization has to go to court to force a government agency to comply with federal law. It’s worse when the organization has to repeatedly seek that compliance.
It’s intolerable; however, when a federal agency demonstrates such flippant disregard for due process and our governmental system.
The entire episode proves, once more, that the TSA is out of touch, out of control and has outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any.