The place where the traditional left and the traditional right meet—as against the radicals currently in power—is civil liberties. So I find my self agreeing with, of all people in the world, a far-right ex-Congressperson who I would have put on my list of “top 5 nuts in office” while she served.
FAS Secrecy News, [IP] The Arrival Of Secret Law: Last month, Helen Chenoweth-Hage attempted to board a United Airlines flight from Boise to Reno when she was pulled aside by airline personnel for additional screening, including a pat-down search for weapons or unauthorized materials.
Chenoweth-Hage, an ultra-conservative former Congresswoman (R-ID), requested a copy of the regulation that authorizes such pat-downs.
“She said she wanted to see the regulation that required the additional procedure for secondary screening and she was told that she couldn't see it,” local TSA security director Julian Gonzales told the Idaho Statesman (10/10/04).
“She refused to go through additional screening [without seeing the regulation], and she was not allowed to fly,” he said. “It's pretty simple.”
Chenoweth-Hage wasn't seeking disclosure of the internal criteria used for screening passengers, only the legal authorization for passenger pat-downs. Why couldn't they at least let her see that? asked Statesman commentator Dan Popkey.
“Because we don't have to,” Mr. Gonzales replied crisply.
“That is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it, nor is anyone else,” he said.
There's something seriously wrong here, if we can't even see the rule (as opposed to the screening criteria which might legitimately be kept from the public) authorizing the search.
Which is why I'm involved in various efforts to make the government cough up the text of the alleged regulation, and justify it.