Thursday, July 02, 2009

Absurd TSA disclaimer

In response to recent events (and a few older ones) I began a brief correspondence with a senior regional TSA agent at one of our nation's larger airports in an attempt to get the Administration's side of the story. I'm used both to reading and writing incendiary assaults on government organizations when an infringement on basic freedoms is suspected or agents misbehave in the performance of their duties, yet I realized that the TSA side of the argument was likely a little more sophisticated than the "Security Through Slavery" zealots many of us are used to imagining.

As I'd hoped I found the man's comments good-spirited and even informative, though most of my original concerns as a Bill of Rights/civil liberties nerd remain. But I can't discuss any of what we discussed due to a backward, ridiculous disclaimer at the bottom of each of his e-mail messages:

WARNING: The information in this email is confidential and may be legally privileged. Access to this email by anyone other than the intended addressee is unauthorized. If you are not the intended recipient of this message, any review, disclosure, copying, distribution, retention, or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it is prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the intended recipient, please reply to or forward a copy of this message to the sender and delete the message, any attachments, and any copies thereof from your system.

So the part of his message that reveals him as a man concerned with security while remaining conscious of the problem of preserving individual liberty is "classified," while the ridiculous, restrictive disclaimer that ties my hands is fair game. I can't talk about what we discussed here, reproduce it or even show it to anybody without fearing some possible reprisal, but I can tell you that I can't.

I don't understand - the contents of his e-mail were transparent discussions of TSA policy, with nary a factoid that might jeopardize our nation's security - in fact, they served to humanize his organization significantly in my eyes. But they've decided that they have the authority to restrict each and every message they send, and I've never been one to create undue trouble for myself.

Too bad.

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