TSA says report detailing security breaches 'too secret' to release
A report from the Transportation Security Administration detailing serious security breaches at the nation;s airports has been held up for months because the TSA insists the information in the report is classified.
Inspector general John Roth had been trying to pry the report loose, but was ignored by TSA management.
Inspector General John Roth said the Transportation Security Agency was abusing its powers in order to shield the information — though he said the agency had released the exact same kinds of details in previous reports, so there’s no valid reason not to release them now. He said the only conclusion is that the agency is hiding behind classification.
“Over-classification is the enemy of good government. SSI markings should be used only to protect transportation security, rather than, as I fear occurred here, to allow government program officials to conceal negative information within a report,” Mr. Roth said, referring to sensitive security information, or “SSI.”
Adding to the problems, TSA Administrator John Pistole refused to reply to Mr. Roth’s appeals, ignoring them for months and delaying the release of the report. Finally Mr. Roth went ahead with the release after one of Mr. Pistole’s subordinates wrote back insisting the classification be maintained. Mr. Pistole resigned from his job at the end of last year.
The report says TSA has failed to follow security protocols in a number of areas at JFK, which is one of the country’s busiest airports. But the total number of vulnerabilities and the seriousness of them were blacked out in Mr. Roth’s public report. TSA also made Mr. Roth delete details about TSA communications cabinets, which were not as secure as they should have been.
The full report, without redactions, was shared with congressional committees that oversee the TSA.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said Mr. Pistole’s successor should personally review the redactions and find a way to release the full report.
“Proper transparency is key to good governance and by insisting this report be partially redacted, TSA undercuts this transparency,” Mr. Thompson said. “Unfortunately, government agencies have all too often over-classified material under the pretext of security in order to sweep negative or embarrassing information under the rug.”
Congressional committees have the full, unredacted report and are lookng for a way to override the TSA and fill in all the blanks. A new chief of the TSA is expected soon, and it is hoped that he will clear the entire report for publication.
It would be nice to know what kind of job the TSA is doing in protecting us.