Apparently a law requiring a “prompt” public hearing equates to “anytime you feel like in roughly the next two years” according to a U.S. Federal Appeals Court — or at least when national security is supposedly involved.
Following a lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which alleged that the U.S. Transportation Safety Agency’s “nude” full-body scanners had been used and abused and were unable to detect dangerous materials as well as metal detectors or traditional search techniques, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the TSA violated a federal transparency law.
The court on July 15, 2011 ordered the TSA “to act properly” and rectify its breach of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) of 1946, which requires federal programs to hold 90-day public comment periods, complete with public hearings. The TSA held no such hearings with regards to the court scanners, so three judge appellate panel ordered the agency [PDF] to “promptly” hold its missed 90-day public comment period.
The TSA responded by doing nothing, and when the court in a short ruling [PDF] in August reiterated its request for compliance with the law, the TSA griped that the deadline was too restrictive.
The TSA has defied a court order to hold a public review its “nude” full-body scanners.
[Image Source: TSA]
Inexplicably, the federal court reversed its previous ruling, telling the TSA that it now had until March to comply in a new ruling [PDF]. That means the TSA will get roughly a 20-month window to hold a “prompt” public hearing, raising eyebrows of the court’s activist interpretation of the APA, a law which clearly states that the comment period must be held before federal programs go into place.
In bending over to the TSA, the court argued that penalizing the controversial agency would hurt America’s ability to respond to “ever-evolving threats”. File this as another example of America’s politicians and judges arguing that the need for security outweighs the need for freedom, transparency, and democratic process.
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