How Classified TSA Documents Admitting Miniscule Threat of Terrorism Became Public

Over the weekend I noted a story about how the TSA has admitted in court documents that it does not believe there are any active terrorism threats against US airlines or airports.

Courthouse News has more on how the leaked truth happened.

Classified TSA documents revealed by clerical error show that the agency does not think terrorists are plotting to attack airplanes, suggesting that nude body scans are unnecessary to protect passengers.

…In the course of discovery, the TSA gave Corbett classified documents, which he incorporated into the brief that he filed under seal.

A clerk at the 11th Circuit somehow neglected to place the document under seal, however, allowing the public to see the redacted information.

This mistake revealed the TSA’s apparent admission that terrorists are unlikely to target airports in a subsequent attack.

Here’s how the brief explains the TSA’s admissions:

“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 said.

In addition, the brief 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. The government also credits updated pre-flight security for that difficulty assessment, but the assessment was written before the en masse deployment of body scanners and before the update to the pat-down procedure. Further, the government admits that there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11.”

Document in question can be found here.

(HT: TravelBlawg)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. And on 9/12 I deputized my 12 year old football playing son and gave him explicit instructions of what I expected him to do in sign of any trouble of the flight to grandma’s house………and my 12 year old’s ability to deter terrorism has been more effective and less costly than TSA hands down…………remember the warnings of Eisenhower on the military industrial complex as he left office……………we have met the enemy and it is us…….

  2. Yeah, we’re spending an awful lot of time and money on a pretty small threat. I’ve always assumed that Pre-Check is eventually the solution to make this Security Theater more palatable over the long term to American travelers.

  3. And part of the problem is that the massive investment in TSA means diverting gazillions of dollars to this operation that could instead be used for real concerns. I’ve thought for some time now that the TSA security screening process is largely a jobs program. For the reasons given – passenger awareness, hardened cockpits – the danger of a 9-11 type attack is very remote compared to the danger of other types of attacks, and that the disproportionate funding for TSA puts us more, rather than less, at risk. A return to the pre 9-11 screening process would make sense, but the only group that can do something about it is the Congress, and we all know they have trouble doing anything at all these days.

  4. On a recent extended trip to Australia I thought my wife and I had entered a time warp. Traveling on multiple Qantas domestic flights, there was no war on water, no war on shoes, no war on liquids, etc and of course no nude o scopes-only metal detectors–normal airport security–nobody asking me what my name is either…..Why cant we have a similar version of this?

  5. @JohnnieD – Because it’s “for our own protection”. It’s a colossal waste of taxpayer money and lost productivity time.

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