Clerical Blunder Reveals TSA Considers Airport Terrorist Attack Unlikely

Thursday, October 24, 2013
(AP Photo)

The United States is unlikely to experience another airline hijacking like those that occurred during 9/11, according to a secret government document mistakenly made public by a federal court.


The document, created by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), said terrorists are not focused on American commercial jets—an admission that could undermine the agency’s use of controversial body scanners at airport checkpoints.


The low-risk hijacking assessment was revealed after Jonathan Corbett sued (pdf) the TSA over its installing the Rapiscan “backscatter” body scanners. Corbett claimed the equipment’s use, as well as pat-downs by TSA agents, violated passengers’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches.


Once the case moved to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a clerk inadvertently failed to place under seal the classified document that TSA provided as part of the discovery phase.


“As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing,” the TSA document reads, according to Courthouse News Service.


The brief also states that “the government concedes that it would be difficult to have a repeat of 9/11 due to hardened cockpit doors and the willingness of passengers to challenge hijackers rather than assume a hijacking merely means a diversion to Cuba. … Further, the government admits that there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Defense of Airport Body Scanners Undermined (by Jack Bouboushian, Courthouses News Service)

Jonathan Corbett V. Transportation Security Administration (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit) (pdf)

TSA Runs Background Checks of U.S. Passengers before They Arrive at the Airport (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

TSA Ignores Year-Old Court Order to Regulate the Use of “Nude” Body Scanners (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)           

Body and Vehicle Scanners Spreading and Using Higher Doses of Radiation (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)   


Bob 10 years ago
Pretty myopic considering how easily (and often) TSA "red team", investigative journalists and even unwitting average citizens intentionally and unintentionally slip prohibited items by the security checkpoint. Besides, only an idiot would consider the porous checkpoints as the only way into the sterile area. The insider threat is a much bigger deal than anyone thought especially after that MAC-11 was found in a locker at JFK. The threat exists and make a juicy target to those who desire news coverage.

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