TSA & FLL Airport Admit Lying in FOIA Response, Say They Can
June 7, 2012 48 Comments
If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I have a lawsuit against the TSA for unlawfully detaining me at FLL airport after I told them they couldn’t “touch my junk,” in addition to the lawsuit that’s now sitting at the US Supreme Court which hopes to ban the scanners and the groping. After the FLL incident, I requested, via the Freedom of Information Act, the checkpoint videos of the TSA illegally holding me for one hour. I eventually got responses from all parties who could have possibly had the videos saying that no video exists:
This despite signs at the checkpoint that say, “Checkpoint under video surveillance” and at least 14 visible camera domes at the checkpoint. Eventually, the truth came out: Broward County has (or at least had) the videos, but formally lied to me “for security purposes.” Follow this logic: there are signs that say there is video being taken, there are more than a dozen visible camera domes, and every idiot expects they are being video taped while inside an airport, but the TSA and Broward County think that, for security reasons, they can’t admit to having a video of me at their checkpoint.
Or, you know, maybe Broward is lying about that too, since the more likely explanation is that they hid the video evidence of the TSA telling me that I could not leave the security checkpoint when no lawful authority to hold me exists (remember, the TSA screeners are not police officers, and even a police officer needs probable cause to detain you).
So, naturally this violation of the FOIA is a part of my lawsuit, and Broward has now twice asked a judge to dismiss these claims because the TSA and Broward feel that they have the legal right to lie to the public, so long as they think it’s in the interest of security (their first motion was denied for procedural reasons). But, we can’t actually call it a “lie” since that would make them feel bad about their false statements:
What kind of democracy would we be in when the government is allowed to lie to its citizens? How can we meaningfully exercise our constitutional rights to vote, petition our government for redress, and due process when the government not only hides from us the facts, but affirmatively says the exact opposite of the truth?
Luckily, there is no precedent for allowing deception in FOIA responses based on a designation of “sensitive security information,” and I do fully expect the judge to slap down Broward’s motion. The best they can lawfully do, if there were legitimately a security concern about disclosing the existence of the videos, is to have simply said, “We can’t confirm or deny if a record exists.” Lying is simply unjustifiable, and it’s truly sad that a judge has to tell them that lying to the public is wrong.