Security Check: The Long List of What You Won't Learn from the Transportation Security Administration

By Kirtley, Jane | American Journalism Review, August-September 2004 | Go to article overview

Security Check: The Long List of What You Won't Learn from the Transportation Security Administration


Kirtley, Jane, American Journalism Review


The 9/11 Commission reports issued this summer offer the public a tantalizing glimpse into the complicated and often secretive world of airline security. They reveal sobering details about communication and other systemic failures that contributed to the hijackers' success. They provide the best possible argument for greater public scrutiny and oversight of the operations of the Transportation Security Administration. That's the agency created in November 2001 to oversee civil aviation security, which was formerly the responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But if federal regulators and some members of Congress have their way, the public will be entitled to less information, not more, about security programs and equipment, personnel training and vulnerability assessments. The TSA issued an interim rule in May that permits it to withhold any "sensitive security information" (SSI) if disclosure would "be detrimental to the security of transportation." (The deadline for public comments was July 19, and a final rule will be issued at an unspecified future date.) The secretary of transportation has similar authority to withhold information about security activities if disclosure would be "detrimental to transportation safety."

If that language sounds broad to you, that's because it is. Although the concept of SSI dates back to the airplane hijackings of the 1970s, at that time, under the aegis of the FAA, restrictions on disclosure were limited to information that might harm "the safety of passengers in air transportation." The entities covered by the restrictions were those directly related to aviation, such as airport operators and airlines.

But since 9/11, the universe of records that can be classified as SSI has expanded to encompass just about anything, from details about how the U.S. mail is transported to assessments of how susceptible an airport might be to a terrorist attack. SSI is secret from the moment it is gathered or developed by the TSA, or simply if the transportation secretary declares it so. It isn't subject to the federal Freedom of Information Act, and a proposal in the Senate would exempt it from state open records laws as well. There is no formal classification procedure to determine whether the records really deserve to be kept secret, as would be the case with national security information. And there is no mechanism to declassify SSI. It stays secret forever, or the information can be destroyed, in most cases, once it is no longer necessary. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Security Check: The Long List of What You Won't Learn from the Transportation Security Administration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.