This is a developing story so details are a bit rough at this point. While Christopher Elliot (National Geographic Traveler’s reader advocate, travel troubleshooter, and MSNBC columnist) blogged and tweeted as he was putting his kids in the bathtub, he heard a knock at the door.Â It was Special Agent Robert Falherty serving him a subpoena from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The subpoena gave Agent Falherty the permission to search any faxes and emails related to TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06. Directive 1544-09-06 spelled out all the fun new rules the TSA put into place that were widely panned (even by me).
Fancy I should choose to link to Steven Frischling’s Flying with Fish blog, since he too is reporting via Twitter that the DHS served him a warrant and searched his computer (update: he has now blogged about his DHS experience). Frischling made fun of the fact that he could see many people from the TSA and DHS reading his blog. But now it isn’t much of a joke, it is just crazy!
It seems the DHS is trying to find who leaked the TSA Directive and they are obviously willing to go toÂ ridiculous lengths to do so.
I realize I don’t have all the facts yet, but even in the best case scenario, this is not going to look good for the DHS. It makes them look aggressive by trying to cover it up, seemingly embarrassed by their own directive.Â I am no legal expert, but I am pretty certain the press have protections from such violations.
Elliott and Frischling are highly respected travel and aviation journalists. When the TSA and government were silent about what was going on, you could count on them to get some answers before anyone else.
Even if DHS is in the legal right, it doesn’t make it right what they are doing.Â As a Twitter follower of mine said, “If [DHS] were as good on security as they are on chasing bloggers…”
I will be updating this blog as more information becomes available.
* Great write up and interview with Frischling from Runway Girl
* In the gig economy, who protects journalist bloggers? from Chris Around the World
* Government harassing blogger for source of TSA directive “leak” from Gadling
* Follow all the latest developments via Twitter #tsaFAIL
* Article written up by Tnooz
* Write up by the Seattle PI
* A counter argument made by Christopher Fotos at Things with Wings on why the TSA did the right thing.
UPDATE 12/30 8am: Elliott and Frischling are reporting via Twitter that the DHS came this morning and took Frischling’s computer and plan to be back around 3pm. This is getting crazier by the hour.
UPDATE 1:45pm: Mary Kirby via her blog Runway Girl talked to TSA agents. The TSA confirms they are looking into the leak. They did not have an answer to an airline reportedly was reading the Directive 1544-09-06 before takeoff and was unable to answer what direction the airlines were given. Frischling just reported on Twitter that the DHS just delivered his laptop back to him after searching it all day. Wired now has the story and is reporting:
Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer in Connecticut who writes a blog for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didnâ€™t provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.
Update 4:15pm: Wired now has a photograph of Frischling and agent Falherty. Now that is good! Looks like that is his laptop on the car hood. Frischling was interviewed on an internet radio station at 4pm CST, I am working on getting a link to that soon.
UPDATE 5:10pm: From Frishling’s Twitter account: “Well..MacBook left with TSA functioning, except a mouse issue, now I have all sorts of harddrive & operating system issues. Oy, not good“
UPDATE 9:00pm: About 24hrs ago I was one of two people that blogged about this story. Now USAToday, FoxNews, NYT and many more have covered it. It is even on the front page of MSNBC. I am amazed at the grassroots efforts of a few aviation bloggers on Twitter helped to make this happen!