The TSA has dropped their ridiculous subpoenas of two bloggers who leaked their ultra-top-secret worthless security directive after the Christmas would-be condom bomber incident:
The TSA said the investigation is "nearing a successful conclusion and the subpoenas are no longer in effect."
The security directive, which ordered extra measures after a Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, quickly became known to passengers at screening lines and aboard their flights. Nonetheless, the passenger screening agency said it "takes any breach in security very seriously."
One subpoena went to Internet travel writer Chris Elliott, who obtained an attorney and did not immediately comply.
Elliott, from Winter Springs, Fla., said TSA agents had showed up at his house, demanding that he reveal who leaked the security directive.
…Another travel blogger who received a subpoena, Steve Frischling, said he met with two TSA special agents Tuesday night at his Connecticut home for about three hours and again on Wednesday morning when he was forced to hand over his laptop computer.
Frischling said the agents threatened to interfere with his contract to write a blog for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines if he didn’t cooperate and provide the name of the person who leaked the memo.
It’s good to see these subpoenas were dropped, but questions remain. Why was Frischling forced to hand over his computer? Why did agents threaten to interfere with his work? Is it true that he was threatened with his name on the no-fly list, as was reported by Blake Fleetwood? Most importantly, were these bloggers treated like any other journalists, or were these extremely coercive techniques used because they were bloggers.
Threatening someone with the no-fly list, or to interfere with their work, seems highly out of the ordinary and overly militaristic, but I guess the TSA’s memo was so super important that these police-state tactics were worth it.
The larger point concerns a federal shield law for journalists and bloggers, as David Dayen points out:
The case really shows how bloggers are at risk because of the lack of a journalist shield law extending to them. Frischling got the document through an anonymous tip from a Gmail account, and his lawyer told him that he might as well give up the source, not only because of his lack of detailed information about it but because “there was no federal shield law to protect him.”
With a shield law that protects bloggers, bloggers would be treated like any other journalist. There would be no double standard, as seems to be the case here. Would the TSA threaten a New York Times reporter with the no-fly list? If not, then bloggers shouldn’t be threatened, either, and the TSA’s heavy-handed tactics should be investigated.
And while were at it, can we start questioning why the TSA needs $8 billion a year, when they do nothing to make us safer?