The TSA's Michael Bay-style Blogger Hunters: Privacy RapistsS

The TSA's looking not-so-great these days, seeing as how their uber-reactionary measures to security breaches could technically be classified as some "PT Barnum-level shit." So how do you think they react when bloggers leak their directives? Subpoenas and door-busting, naturally.

Remember Enemy of the State? Or The Net? Or even Hackers? They were movies about people who got their hands on information—by accident or otherwise—the government basically wanted to kill them over. Civil rights and due process go out the window, and commence shady government agents showing up at your door. Most of the time, the information they get is often something the public should know, or isn't that valuable, except for the people who hold it proprietary, simply because it's proprietary.

A blogger named Chris Elliott got the memo on those new asinine TSA regulations leaked to him by someone on the inside. And of course: he didn't know who it was! He published the leak, and as it turned out, it wasn't anything people didn't already know (or were about to know). But the TSA was pissed. So: what'd they do to figure out who leaked the document? Try "showing up at his door to steal his computer."

Though there are cute anecdotes to the story like this:

(Incidentally, my kids liked Special Agent Flaherty. They've been calling him "our friend from the TSA" all evening. Probably because he had a cool badge and got along with the cats.)

This blogger makes the TSA look leaky, and the TSA gets a federal subpoena and sends their agents down to play with the guy's kids and cats while he gets on the phone with a lawyer and incurs legal expenses so he doesn't get his lappy jacked. Another blogger wasn't so lucky.

Steve Frischling actually did get his laptop taken away by the TSA. Again: so they could investigate the source of their leak. What's funny, though, is how they tried to do it the first time:

Frischling, founder of the Travel Strategist blog, said TSA agents came to his Connecticut home Tuesday evening to question him about his source, leaving for a brief time to go to Wal-Mart to buy a hard drive in a failed effort to copy his hard drive that night.

Since that didn't work and the Geek Squad was obviously unavailable, getting their Jungle Juice ready for the following night's festivities and all, they just took the entire computer.

On the 30th of December the same two US TSA Special Agents from the previous night returned to my home and removed my laptop from my house at approximately 10:30am and returned it around 4:20pm.

Interestingly enough, Frischling also notes that the TSA's got some nice guys working for them!

First let me say this, the two agents were polite and professional.

It's almost whimsical. If the government's gonna clamp down on you, you'd hope they'd be nice, right? And as the story ends, the TSA pulls the subpoenas and without much explanation, at that.

Frischling said he was contacted Thursday evening by TSA Deputy Chief Counsel John Drennan, who told him the agency was "no longer investigating how I came into the document." Drennan "apologized on the heavy-handed tactics the TSA agents took," Frischling said.

"Heavy-handed" would be one way to put it. "Shady and slightly rapey of due process" would be another! And the TSA is, as we're all now well-aware, familiar with this style of work. Especially since the former FBI agent the Obama administration has tapped to lead the TSA is....now being investigated for lying about violating privacy acts that keep fellas like him away from knowing what magazines I subscribe to! [Full Disclosure, guys: I haven't read AdBusters since 10th Grade.]

Elsewhere in TSA news, Obama basically said "fuck a conflict of interest, let's find the best guy to find out who did what wrong and nail them to the boards," which you know, would be nice. Except for the fact that the TSA can't actually protect us from the greatest threat in the skies right now: American Airlines pilots.